Hilary Benn opens flood warning centre
by David Masters
April 29, 2009
A new centre that will provide early warnings of extreme rainfall and potential floods across England and Wales was opened last week in London by Hilary Benn, minister for environment, food, and rural affairs.
The £10m Flood Forecasting Centre, a joint venture between the Environment Agency and the Met Office, has been set up to provide earlier warnings of floods to local authorities and emergency services, giving them extra time to prepare, and reducing the risk of lost life and property damage.
Setting up the centre was in direct response to the Pitt Review into the summer 2007 floods across England and Wales.
“Combining the knowledge and experience of the Met Office and Environment Agency, we will see a big improvement in the ability to produce earlier flood alerts and more accurate, targeted information to our emergency services, local authorities and utility companies,” said Hilary Benn.
“This will give people in areas at risk of flooding more time to protect themselves and their homes and businesses from the effects of flooding.”
Previously the Met Office, which forecasts rain, and the Environment Agency, which monitors groundwater levels, only communicated by telephone.
This separation of work was identified by Sir Michael Pitt in his 2007 review as one of the key reasons why 13 people died and over 40,000 homes were flooded during the deluge of rain that year.
“The flood forecasting centre should make a real difference,” said Benn.
“From now on there will be one unified forecast covering rainfall and flooding.
“The two agencies will physically sit side by side.”
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