Memorandum from the Emergency Planning
The Emergency Planning Society appreciates the
opportunity to comment on the draft Civil Contingencies Bill.
We welcome the Bill, and the Government's stated commitment to
bring in legislation to strengthen civil protection arrangements
in the UK. However, we believe that the draft Bill, and other
documentation and statements made by Government officials, show
that, in spite of everything that has happened both before and
after the events of 11 September 2001, there is still reluctance
amongst Government to give a serious commitment to the service.
Specifically, it has to be said that funding levels remain demonstrably
Our response to the publication of the draft
Bill is in two parts. The first part consists of general comments,
which perhaps do not fit very well in reply to any of the specific
questions asked by the consultation document; the second part
consists of our answers to the specific questions which the Government
The Society agrees with the House of Commons
Defence Select Committee that, in only allowing a time of 12 weeks
over the summer holiday, there has been insufficient time for
this part of the consultation process. The absence of any indication
of the scope and notice of the regulations that will follow makes
the consultation process somewhat superficial. We are concerned
that this haste may be repeated when the Government consults on
future draft regulations in support of the Bill, and we seek assurances
from the Cabinet Office that a full and proper consultation process
will take place before regulations are introduced.
Previous related documentation included a community
leadership role for local authorities, which is not reflected
in the draft Bill. We believe that greater consideration should
be given to the issue of leadership in relation to the planning
and risk assessment aspects of the Bill, as opposed to the response
dimension where this is already clear.
Previous documentation has indicated that the
Police would normally take the lead role in warning the public
about a potential emergency. The Society seeks clarification that
this is indeed the case.
It is important that the extent of local responders'
"risk asssessment" and "risk management" duties
is made clear. In our view, emergency risk management is a systematic
process that produces a range of measures that contribute to the
well being of communities and the environment. It includes: context
definition; risk identification; risk analysis; risk evaluation;
risk treatment; monitoring and reviewing; and communicating and
consulting. The Government should not try to adopt or encompass
the wider risk management agenda under the banner of civil protection.
The Society is concerned that the Bill does
not adequately address the issue of access to confidential information.
Emergency planning officers should have access to all relevant
information to enable them to write emergency plans.
In our view, the current funding for emergency
planning for local responders is completely inadequate to cover
existing responsibilities and requires a substantial increase
to meet both these and additional challenges posed by proposed
new duties. An impartial comprehensive funding review should be
set up to consider resource needs in all sectors affected by the
We believe that government should finance the
full range of responsibilities deriving from the Bill, as opposed
to making a "contribution", in order to ensure that
all the duties can be properly implemented rather than so-called
"new burdens". If the Government is serious about the
development of "resilience", then substantial additional
new resources need to be invested, particularly in terms of emergency
resources and supplies, 24-hour callout arrangements for staff
of all Category 1 responders, training and exercising, risk assessment
and "prevention", business continuity management, finance
to underpin the role of voluntary organisations, and informing
the public. In terms of local authority funding, the Local Government
Association and House of Commons Defence Select Committee have
recently confirmed the Society's view that this is wholly inadequate.
The Society is dismayed that shire districts
are to be denied direct funding, even though the draft Bill seems
to increase their role and responsibilities. We are concerned
that, rather than address the issue of local authority funding
with any degree of seriousness, the Government prefers to blur
the delegation of responsibilities between shire and district
It is also of concern that the Government is
not proposing to introduce a new system of capital grants which
could be used to implement an infrastructure appropriate to an
effective emergency response in the twenty-first century. This
would imply that the costs associated with the development of
control centres, radio systems, forward control vehicles and so
forth would have to be borne by the authorities directly. We find
it surprising that the new "CBRN Guidance for Local Authorities"
states that local authorities should consider having backup emergency
control centres when previous government advice has been that
there is no funding available for one such centre, let alone two.
We are disappointed that the Bill also does
not propose to encompass the Bellwin Scheme for compensating local
authorities post-disasters, which again seems to militate against
this framework becoming a "single framework for civil protection".
We believe that there should be a statutory central contingency
fund to replace the discretionary Bellwin Scheme.
Q1. Is the definition of emergency the right
one? If not, in what ways should it be tightened or expanded to
exclude certain classes of event or situation?
The Society is in broad agreement with the definition,
with three exceptions as follows:
1. We believe that the definition should
include reference to a trigger point at which an event may be
considered to be a "serious threat"; and we suggest
that the Government should adapt its own phrase from "Dealing
with Disaster", ie an event ". . . on such a scale that
the effects cannot be dealt with by the emergency services, local
authorities and other organisations as part of their normal day
to day activities".
2. We believe that there needs to be a caveat
that, in respect of 1(1)(c) "the political, administrative,
or economic stability of a place in England and Wales", this
should relate only to those instances where there is also a threat
to human welfare.
3. In 1 (1) (a-d) ". . . in/of a place
. . ." needs to be clearly defined, particularly in relation
to UK waters. Clarification should be sought that, in law, "water"
includes seawater. If it does not, then an appropriate definition
needs to be included. There may also be a need to clarify how
far out to sea any duty applies, although this may be covered
by other legislation, or could be clarified in regulations.
Q2. Do you agree that the obligations imposed
on both Category 1 and 2 responders by or under the new framework
will ensure operationally effective and financially efficient
planning and response to emergencies at the local level? If not,
how should these obligations be increased or reduced?
There can be no doubt that duties imposed on
both Category 1 and Category 2 responders by or under the new
framework have the potential to improve operational effectiveness
if they complement, build on and improve existing multi-agency
arrangements and plans at a local level. However, further definition
of Category 1 responders, particularly in two tier areas would
clarify the functions of each tier with respect to their involvement.
Chapter three is entitled: CHAPTER
There is however some confusion which suggests that roles and
responsibilities are not clear. The confusion concerns
the inclusion of both County Councils and Shire District Councils
as Category 1 responders, yet with the provision that under subsection
(2) may, in particular permit or require a county council to perform
a duty under subsection (1) on behalf of a district council within
the area of the county council.
This is further explained in the guidance under
Membership of Categories 1 and 2.
10. Although shire districts have been
placed within Category 1 it is proposed that, for the time being,
county councils will take full responsibility for local authority
civil protection planning in their area. This is a continuation
of the current arrangement under the 1948 Civil Defence Act. The
draft Bill provides for regulations to be made which will allow
county councils to plan on the basis of the full range of local
authority functions in their area, including those of the districts.
Whilst this will generally maintain current
arrangements it should be recognised that in many cases the county
councils do not plan on the basis of the full range of local authority
functions in their area, including those of the districts, but
on the basis of their own functions and co-ordinating these with
the district functions. And considering Part 1 subsection (3)
Regulations under subsection (2) may, in particular: (e) permit
or require a county council to perform a duty under subsection
(1) on behalf of a district council within the area of the county
In terms of response, a District Council clearly
co-ordinates the immediate joint response if it falls within its
area, and will deal with medium and long-term responses that naturally
fall to it, while the County Council mobilises the wider or multi-District
area, and more strategic long-term responses and recovery, where
necessary and appropriate.
The extent of the increase in operational effectiveness
and financial efficiency in planning and response will be dependent
upon the clarity and scope of the regulations to be announced
and on adequate funding to carry out the duties.
It is difficult to determine the extent of the
implications on the local level other than to ingrain best practice
until the Government provides more detail on the proposed content
of the regulations to be made under the draft Bill. As there is
scope for duplication of effort, we believe that the Government
should state how local authorities in two-tier areas are supposed
to work together. It is our expectation that this will be fully
covered in supporting regulations.
The move towards robust and fair performance
management of civil protection is welcome, although this should
build on National Standards of preparedness and performance and
must have a consistent and recognised framework of operation.
The highest of standards must be encouraged through local, regional
and national benchmarking, with recognition and promotion of examples
of best practice and national guidance. This will be assisted
by the requirement to publish plans and procedures where appropriate.
The requirements for Category 1 and Category
2 organisations to work closer together will ensure consistency
and improved communication between the key private and public
sector co-operating bodies. However, there needs to be more clarity
regarding the relationship between the two categories of responders,
including the requirements for Category 2 responders to work with
There is no inclusion of the roles and responsibilities
of national government in the draft bill. Whilst we understand
that it is perhaps unusual in English Law for statutory responsibilities
to be placed on central government departments, we believe that
history has shown that the lead government department concept
has not worked in practice and that civil protection is too important
an area of public life for statutory responsibilities not to be
imposed on any of the agencies which have key roles in contributing
to creating a robust culture of resilience in the United Kingdom.
With reference to Part 1, subsection 3(a), we
are also concerned that the definition of fuel oil is too specific.
This is enabling legislation, so it is our view that the wording
of this subsection should be more general. This would ensure that
all potential contaminants, including any future materials, could
be properly covered. Any need to include, or exclude, specific
contaminants could then be dealt with by way of regulation. We
would therefore suggest the following change:
Subsection 3(a) should be reworded as: "contamination
of land, water or air with substances, materials or articles that
are harmful to human, animal or plant life".
The Society also welcomes that business continuity
planning is recognised in the Bill as a valid and necessary part
of the civil protection process. However we would wish to point
out the following:
Contained in clause 2(1) are responsibilities
for Category 1 responders. In subsection (c) there is a requirement
"maintain plans for the purpose of ensuring,
so far as is reasonably practicable, that if an emergency occurs
the body or person is able to continue to perform his or its functions"
Although not using the term "Business Continuity"
the guidance and consultation information make it clear that this
is what is meant.
The issue that arises is that only Category
1 responders are required to comply with this function. It is
suggested that this requirement, and only the requirement of subsection
(c), should also be made of Category 2 responders.
Chapter 3 part 8 of the consultation document
outlines the reason for the creation of Category 2 responders
as ". . . co-operating bodies . . . which are less likely
to be involved in the heart of planning work but will be heavily
involved in incidents that affect their sector." These responders
are major infrastructure organisations. If they fail, either by
industry/service groups or geographical area or other shared commonality,
this could lead to an emergency or compound the effects of a pre-existing
Their involvement in an incident will be affected
by the impact of an incident upon themselves. In order to ensure
the maximisation of their involvement it is crucial that they
have the ability to function in response to an incident.
It is difficult to see why this would be expected
of Category 1 responders and not Category 2 responders. Without
this requirement being extended to Category 2 responders it is
doubtful that the "practical benefits" referred to in
paragraph 8 will be fully achieved.
Q3. Do you agree that the membership of categories
1 and 2 is right? If not, which organisations should be added,
moved or removed?
The Society is convinced that both the central
and regional arms of government should be subjected (with notable
exceptions) to specific statutory duties. This is particularly
of concern in light of the Consultation Document's claim that
the Bill's purpose is to "deliver a single framework for
civil protection in the United Kingdom" and the absence of
any compelling reasons given by the CCS to justify this omission.
We believe this should be reconsidered as, in our view, the main
impetus for the original Emergency Planning Review stemmed from
the shortcomings in the arrangements of Central and Regional Government.
Although we remain convinced that the Lead Government Department
concept is fundmentally flawed, we would like to see Lead Government
Departments, together with the Regional Resilience functions,
included in Category 1 as a minimum. We also believe that the
central and regional tiers should be subject to the same range
of performance criteria as local responders.
We would suggest that Primary Care Trusts, Health
Protection Agency, Strategic Health Authorities and Hospital Trusts
are all included in Category 1, given that all now have a role
in emergency planning and response.
We are concerned that the utilities and major
transport providers have been consigned to Category 2 on the basis
that this "reflects the importance that these organisations
have in terms of potentially being the cause of an emergency situation
and in aiding response and recovery". This does not seem
an accurate depiction of reality given the public's dependence
on utility supplies. In our view utilities and major transport
providers should also be placed into Category 1 so that these
organisations also have a duty to assess the risk of emergencies
arising, maintain emergency and BCP plans and so forth. It appears
clear to us that existing regulations for these sectors are insufficient
as evidenced by: (1) the recent poor performance of electricity
supply companies in reconnecting large numbers of customers following
storms in October 2002; (2) the apparent lack of a budget for
running exercises within individual Network Rail Major Stations;
(3) the lack of a regulatory requirement by the CAA for airport
exercises airside to extend to the terminal side; (4) the recent
major power failure in North America effecting 50 million people
which could easily happen to us, and (5) the power cuts in London
of August 2003.
In addition, we would strongly suggest that
all major airlines, all rail freight companies (including EWS,
Freightliner), passenger transport executives, and British Waterways
are also covered by the legislation as Category 1 responders.
We believe that there is a strong case to be
made for the inclusion of major bus companies (eg First Bus, Stagecoach)
in the Bill, possibly as Category 2 responders, given their potential
role in assisting in major evacuations or transportation to rest
From a regulatory perspective, we consider that
it would be appropriate for the Coal Authority, the Met Office
and agencies involved in the NAIR/RADSAFE/CHEMSAFE schemes to
be included in the Bill as Category 2 responders.
Q4. Do you agree that the Bill gives the
Government the right balance of regulation making powers to meet
its aims of consistency and flexibility? If not, please explain
how the powers should be expanded or constrained.
There is a general acceptance of the balance.
However, because of the pivotal role given to Regulations in the
Bill it is important that a proper consultation mechanism is put
in place, which allows for full consideration of the draft Regulations
before their implementation. Although not specifically referred
to in the consultation, the same point is made regarding Orders
(Clause 5) and Guidance (Clause 3).
Time for full consultation is vital.
Q5. Do you agree that consistent arrangements
for multi-agency working should be established, through the creation
of Local Resilience Forums? If you, how else should consistency
There is no doubt that inter-agency co-operation
is the key to effective civil contingency planning. Plans developed
on an inter-agency basis are essential to an effective response
as they provide the foundation for the emergency services, local
authorities, health service, utilities, voluntary agencies, central
government and other responding bodies to build on, no matter
what the type of emergency involved.
The revised third edition of "Dealing with
Disaster" states that "Civil contingency planning arrangements
need to be integrated both within and between organisations. They
should be an integral part of departmental and organisational
The requirement under Section 5 of the draft
Bill, for both Category 1 and Category 2 responders to share information
and to co-operate with each other, goes some way to fulfil the
Most areas of the country now have in place
voluntary arrangements to ensure integration of both contingency
plans and the combined response to a major incident. Some of these
include a Strategic Co-ordinating Group, usually chaired by the
Chief Constable, which will meet in the case of emergencies that
require a combined response. It is felt that where these arrangements
are found to be functioning effectively they should identified
as best practice in order that others can use them as a model.
Where joint working arrangements exist they
should be encouraged to continue. Where a central emergency planning
team, set up under joint arrangements and based on a host authority,
is in place it is felt that consideration should be given to extending
that team to include representatives from all the Category 1 responders.
This would lead to true interagency working and allow for the
complete fulfilment of the requirements as they are currently
proposed under Section 5 of the draft Bill. This is not a completely
revolutionary approach as at least one area of the country has
already trialled this method. Funding should be made available
in the next financial year to introduce further trials across
the country in order to enable a fair assessment to be made.
There will be difficulties experienced in the
arrangements outlined above, not least of which will be funding,
but the benefits will by far outweigh these and they should not
be used as an excuse to prevent its introduction.
The use of the term "Local Resilience Forums"
may well cause confusion especially where local arrangements have
already been in place for some years with their own local, and
well known, nomenclature. If there is to be a change in order
to bring uniformity across the country then it will need to be
clearly stated in either the Act or, more probably, the Regulations
made under that Act.
Q6. Do you agree that the partial Regulatory
Impact Assessment accurately reflects the costs and benefits of
the Bill proposals? If not, how should it be changed?
The Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) does
not reflect fully the costs and benefits arising from the Bill
The RIA seeks to quantify new burdens arising
from improving the local capacity to detect, reduce and handle
risks through enhanced co-ordination and clarity of roles and
We believe that resource requirements should
be assessed following a thoroughly investigated funding review
which takes account of the fact that the definition of emergency
takes civil protection far beyond what is currently expected to
be in place.
Q7. Do you agree that funding for Category
1 local authorities should be transferred from specific grant
(Civil Defence Grant) to Revenue Support Grant? If not, why should
specific grant be retained?
NO. The Society believes that funding for Emergency
Planning in all sectors should be easily identifiable, and we
do not believe that this is possible unde the Revenue Support
Grant system. The government is quite rightly trying to change
the way in which the service is managed, and whilst the small
Civil Defence Grant should be disposed of, the Government should
provide a direct specific grant to local authorities and other
public sector agencies, which adequately funds the service.
It is our expectation that a much greater level
of funding should be allocated to emergency planning than that
which is currently the case. We also expect that a vigourous process
will be introduced.
Q8. Do you agree that the level of funding
to support the Bill is sufficient? If not, please explain why
you believe it to be too high or too low.
The current level of funding (£19 million
Civil Defence Grant) is woefully insufficient to support even
the current level of local authority civil protection activities.
More particularly, it does not take account of new and additional
burdens to be imposed by the Civil Contingencies Bill. Furthermore,
the draft Bill raises the overall aspirations for improved resilience
(and raises public expectations) without recognising the costs
that this will involve.
Accordingly, a very large increase in funding
is necessary to support the basic responsibilities for local authorities
that flow from the forthcoming Bill.
The government has long insisted that the Civil
Defence Grant is only a contribution to local emergency planning,
and that local authorities are expected to supplement the grant
in order to fulfil their emergency planning duties. Consequently
local authorities have had to use money that would otherwise have
been spent on Education or other local services in order to ensure
emergency planning is adequately resourced. In truth, therefore,
the actual cost of current arrangements greatly exceeds the current
level of central government funding.
The new and additional burdens flowing from
the forthcoming Bill, which require additional funding, arises
(a) Promoting Business Continuity Management;
(b) Greater emphasis on risk assessment work;
(c) Preventing emergencies from occurring;
(d) Warning and informing the public;
(e) Participation in initiatives arising
from the new Regional tier of resilience.
In addition, it is relevant to note that public
expectation of how they will be looked after during an emergency
is rising all the time. Is it reasonable, for example, to assume
that people evacuated from the homes in an emergency will be content
with the basic provision of shelter and sustenance provided for
in most Rest Centre Plan? Is it not more reasonable to expect
the public to demand more substantial and comfortable accommodation,
which is beyond the capability of local authorities to plan for
with current resources and in the absence of regional stockpiles
Funding of other category 1 responders should
also be significantly higher than at present, particularly as
in order to comply with the new Bill, all responder organisations
will have to employ new or additional staff. It is also obvious
that the introduction of standards and a monitoring process will
generate a much greater level of planning and training activities
than is currently the case.
Q9. Do you agree that performance should
be audited through existing mechanisms? If not, what mechanisms
would you like to see established?
Yes, where auditing mechanisms already exist.
In the Consultation Document, chapter 3, paragraph 37 deals with
"Performance Management". It is suggested that performance
could be monitored by existing bodies such as the Audit Commission,
the emergency services' inspectorates and utility regulators.
In terms of local authorities we would expect
the Audit Commission to audit the service under the Comprehensive
Performance Assessment process. We are, however, concerned that
if auditing takes place under the existing Comprehensive Performance
Assessment that the weighting for, what would be modest expenditure
by local authority standards, would mean that there would be only
a little incentive to improve emergency planning performance.
We would therefore expect that the weighting attached to civil
protection should also take into account the absolutely huge costs
to local authorities of responding to emergencies and the potentially
huge costs that will occur if local authorities are not adequately
There is also concern that existing audit processes
may not address the qualitative issues that need to be addressed
in emergency planning. There needs to be an audit regime that
is able to measure capacity and competence that is not readily
quantified. We would therefore expect to see personnel performing
audits on behalf of the existing bodies to include appropriately
qualified or experienced staff.
A NEW REGIONAL
Q10. Do you agree with the role of Regional
Nominated Co-ordinator? If not, who should take responsibility
at the regional level, and with what responsibilities?
Yes. In principal, the ESP welcomes the appointment
of a RNC during a regional crisis. It will, firstly, ensure that
the communications link between central government and local multi-agency
commands is greatly improved, and, secondly, provide the embracing
leadership necessary for regional emergencies.
However, while we understand the Government's
wish to mirror central arrangements for crisis management, ie
different lead Government Departments for different types of emergency,
we echo the Select Defence Committee's concerns that the RNC will
be selected with a greater emphasis upon specialist knowledge
rather than leadership skills and crisis management experience.
We agree that specialist knowledge is required, but it should
be in an advisory role to the RNC.
Lessons from FMD and the fuel crisis demand
that any individual appointed has real authority, and is a respected,
respectable and credible lead individual. The EPS would like to
see a cadre of pre-selected RNCs, based upon leadership skills,
strategic management, and crisis management, experience. The EPS
believes that this would provide the leadership, guidance, and
flexibility required to respond to, and recover from, a regional
In addition, the consultation document states
that the RNC will be formally appointed, only when special legislative
measures have been addressed, ie Level 3. However, the document
also states that, "At Level 2, RCCC would be chaired by the
Regional Nominated Co-ordinator." The EPS would welcome clarification
on this point, as it seems impossible for the RNC to chair the
aforementioned meetings, when they would not yet have been appointed.
We would also point out that the tasking of
resources at the point of delivery, must be met by appropriate
funding. How does this relate to Bellwin? If the RNC declares
certain action should be taken that is beyond the local resource
level, even given partnership working, is there an implied guarantee
that Bellwinor something elsewill follow?
Q11. Do you agree with the principle of applying
special legislative measures on a regional basis? Please explain
Yes we agree that, clearly, there is a need
to be able to apply "special legislative measures" in
certain circumstances. The reasons for repealing the Emergency
Powers Act 1920 etc and replacing and enlarging those powers with
something more relevant are understood. We also welcome the government's
thinking on this issue as it relects the situation in other developed
Q12. Do you agree that the current emergency
powers framework is outdated and needs to be replaced? If you
do not think it should be replaced, please explain why.
Q13. Do you agree that the circumstances
in which special legislative measures may be taken should be widened
from limited threats to public welfare to include threats to the
environment, to the political, administrative and economic stability
of the UK and to threats to its security resulting from war or
terrorism? If not, how would you like to see the circumstances
narrowed or extended?
Q14. Do you agree that the use of special
legislative measures should be possible on a sub-UK basis? If
not, please explain.
Q15. Do you agree that authority to declare
that special legislative measures are necessary should remain
with The Queen as Head of State, acting on the advice of Ministers?
If not, who should it sit with?
Q16. Do you agree that in the event the process
of making a Royal Proclamation would cause a delay which might
result in significant damage or harm, a Secretary of State should
be able to make the declaration in the place of The Queen as Head
of State, acting on the advice of Ministers? If not, is delay
acceptable or is there another alternative mechanism?
No. This would give rise to a major constitutional
change which we do not believe is necessary for this Bill to work.
Q17. Do you agree that emergency regulations
should be treated as primary legislation for the purposes of the
Human Rights Act? If not, please explain why.
The question as framed, and the consultation
document, fails to identify the implications that needs to be
fully explored, to give an answer that shows how human rights
should be addressed by legislation.
UK? IF NOT,
The Emergency Planning Society agrees that the
arrangements proposed for Scotalnd are appropriate. It is clear
that the Scottish Parliament has a right to assess and consult
on any proposed legislation for civil protection in Scotland.
However, as has been the case with the Emergency Powers aspects
of the Bill, the Society would encourage the government to continue
the close working that has taken place so far between the Cabinet
Office and the Scottish Executive to ensure that, ultimately,
Scotland "enjoys the same degree of civil protection as the
rest of the UK".
Q19. Do you agree that the arrangements proposed
for Wales strike the right balance between reflecting the devolution
settlement and ensuring consistency across the UK? If not, what
changes are necessary?
The Society asks that attention be paid to the
way the service would be funded. Under devolved Government secondary
legislation would have to be introduced, to reflect that the Welsh
Assembly Government was funding the Emergency Planning Service,
while responsibility for it still sat with the Cabinet Office.
If this was to change then clear regulations would have to be
drafted, to show where the funding was going to ensure it would
not be lost.
Q20. Do yo agree that the arrangements proposed
for Northern Ireland strike the right balance between reflecting
the devolution settlement and ensuring consistency across the
UK? If not, what changes are necessary?
The different structure of central and local
government and legislative framework in Northern Ireland would
dictate that a specific approach is required to the application
of the part of the local response issues dealt with in Part 1
of the Bill.
Although it is considered that legislative controls
on such arrangements should continue to be the responsibility
of the devolved administrations, if consistency is to be achieved,
then minimum standards and timescales should be set on a national
level and the Cabinet Office should have an overseeing role. The
process of introducing the legislation should be joined-up to
prevent disparities in the degree of protection and also delays
In Northern Ireland, account also needs to be
taken of the fact that the current legislative framework is somewhat
different as are the traditional roles and responsibilities of
the various departments and agencies involved. For example, civil
defence arrangements have been handled centrally in the past and
although District Councils have, over the last number of years,
been developing local response arrangements, they do not enjoy
the same powers as their GB counterparts (for example, the power
of community leadership, as contained in the GB Local government
Therefore, it is considered that the application
of appropriate civil protection powers and duties to Northern
Ireland needs to go further than those described in the consultative
document. In particular, the statutory responsibilities should
apply to all departments, district councils and agencies (except
the voluntary sector) involved in emergency planning in Northern
Ireland. District Councils will also need to be afforded similar
general powers to their GB counterparts.
There needs to be a recognition that new powers
would be conferred on these organisations and appropriate funding
would need to be made available. In Northern Ireland, as in England,
District Councils have received no funding for emergency planning
in the past, making it difficult to perform their role effectively.
At present, the consultation document issued
by the Central Emergency Planning Unit (CEPU) in Northern Ireland
is somewhat lacking in that it does not address multi-agency working
(such as Local Resilience Forums) co-ordination, joint working
between the central and local response, or performance management
arrangements. There is also no mention of what would constitute
a regional planning tier for Northern Ireland or the possibility
of appointing a Regional Co-ordinator. In Northern Ireland, there
is currently a lack of clarity in respect of emergency planning
and response structures at a regional level and there is inadequate
co-ordination between the regional and local levels. Hence the
inclusion of such arrangements is considered necessary.
Q21. Do you agree that the role and accountability
of the Emergency Co-ordinator in a devolved country should be
flexible to reflect different types of emergency? If not, what
alternative role should the Emergency Co-ordinator have?
The Emergency Planning Society would suggest
that the role and accountabilities of the Emergency Co-ordinator
should be well established and consistent regardless of the type
of emergency. The flexibility should lie in the nomination of
the most appropriate officer to undertake the role.
As an exampleEmergency Planning Officer
roles/responsibilities and authority on a day-to-day basis change
significantly in an emergency situation. In a well-prepared organisation
the emergency response role is clearly stated within emergency
procedures outlining the framework within which officers operate
during emergency situations.
The effectiveness of the Emergency Co-ordinator
is dependent on having these clearly defined operating parameters,
combined with the training and development of officers likely
to be nominated as the Emergency Co-ordinator, to ensure that
they have the skills, confidence and capabilities to undertake
Q22. Do you agree that the devolved administrations
should be able to declare that special legislative measures are
necessary, and take action accordingly? If not, please explain
The view of the Emergency Planning Society is
that it is essential for devolved administrations to be able to
declare special legislative measures. This will ensure that there
is an effective and pro-actively managed response to the crisis
by the devolved administration based on local knowledge, assessment
and understanding of the situation and its implications. This
proposal would appear to be appropriate, particularly for Northern
Ireland (once the devolved administration is restored) given its
physical separation from the mainland and also as it has borders
with the Republic of Ireland.
Q.23 Do you agree that London should have
different arrangements for co-operation, and that the proposals
set out are the right way to deliver this? If not, what arrangements
should be in put in place?
The make up of local government in London demands
that the local authority arrangements be different. The London
Resilience Forum is an established body and seems to function
efficiently. The question of local resilience forums needs more
clarification. Each London borough currently meets with its own
emergency services and NHS Trusts and plans for local resilience.
In order to include the utilities and others in Category 2 use
should be made of the existing five Mutual Aid Groups in London.
It is believed that if the Groups were put on to a legal footing
they would provide a practical solution, allowing the co-operation
envisaged in the Bill.
Chair, Local Authorities Professional Issues Group
1 September 2003