Today I am announcing that Defra and the Environment Agency (EA) will be undertaking a review of multi-agency flood plans produced by local resilience forums (LRFs) in England. These plans are used by local responders (including the emergency services, local authorities, local NHS and others) to coordinate their response to flood incidents.
The Multi-Agency Flood Plan (MAFP) Review is part of the government’s ongoing work to address flood risk. We are investing £2.5 billion to better protect the country from flooding. This includes over 1,500 flood defence schemes, which will better protect more than 300,000 properties by 2021. As we approach winter, we have improved our capability to deploy military assistance and invested in our ability to respond to flooding. For example, the Environment Agency now has 25 miles of temporary barriers and we have 1,200 military troops trained to assist in flood response.
LRFs are at the forefront of local emergency response to a wide range of incidents. The MAFP Review will look at the effectiveness and consistency of current flood plans. It will also identify good practice and advise on how it can be spread, to help make sure we have the best plans in place across the country.
This Defra review will be led and overseen by an independent external reviewer. I am delighted that Major General Tim Cross CBE (retired) has agreed to take on this role. General Cross had a distinguished 35 year career in the British Army. He has since served as an adviser to the House of Commons Defence Committee, and he is currently President of the Institute of Civil Protection and Emergency Management.
General Cross will be supported by a group of specialists in resilience and emergency planning, including from LRFs. Membership of this group will be confirmed in due course.
The review will examine around 30 strategic flood plans and over 600 tactical flood plans related to specific districts. General Cross and the external advisory group, supported by Defra and the Environment Agency, will undertake a qualitative review, visiting LRFs and identifying best practice. This will inform the revision of Defra guidance on how to produce good MAFPs.
The review is due to be completed by the end of May 2018.
The government is also undertaking wider reviews into LRF preparedness. The MAFP Review will be taken forward with due consideration to this wider work.
The terms of reference for the review will be published on the GOV.UK website today. The findings of the review will be published on GOV.UK in due course.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: