£20 million flood-centre to become a reality

PUBLISHED: 10:13 26 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:03 17 June 2010

A NEW £20 million flood-disaster centre, that would warn residents of the kind of freak-floods that submerged huge swathes of Ottery St Mary, Tipton St John and Newton Poppleford in October will be established.

A NEW £20 million flood-disaster centre, that would warn residents of the kind of freak-floods that submerged huge swathes of Ottery St Mary, Tipton St John and Newton Poppleford in October will be established.

The Environment Agency is joining forces with the Met Office in Exeter to produce an unprecedented new joint Flood Forecasting Centre for England and Wales.

For the first time ever the centre will combine the expertise in weather and flood management under the same roof.

The Centre will also provide the basis for an improved forecasting and alert service for emergency responders and is part of a scheme that will also see an extra 78,000 properties sign up to its free Flood Warnings Direct service .

It will also provide advice to local groups and emergency services about steps that should be taken to address flooding.

They will also work with water utilities and Water UK on a national protocol for sharing data for surface water risk assessments and planning; and continuing to raise public awareness of flood risk.

The flooding that engulfed Ottery St Mary was a result of surface water, and Environment Agency Regional Director Richard Cresswell, said: "In 2008, the South West region experienced two major flooding incidents primarily caused by surface water in East Devon and Somerset.

"Our new role will enable us to provide leadership and co-ordinated planning and management of all sources of flood risk.

"We have been working closely with Government, local authorities, emergency responders and utility companies to ensure that we are better prepared for flooding when it occurs.

"Individuals and businesses must also take steps to prepare themselves for the risk of flooding.

"The Floods and Water Bill will give us the proper legal tools and clarity of responsibilities to complete the task ahead.

"We must all acknowledge the real threat posed by climate change and adapt accordingly to protect lives, the environment, the economy and property.

"For this reason, investment in flood risk management should continue to rise to help to meet these challenges.

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