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Call For Urgent Action To Prevent Flooding In The Region

28th July, 2010
THE Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) South West is repeating its call that urgent action must be taken to defend the UK’s critical infrastructure following the severe flooding in the North West.

ICE South West has renewed its plea to the government to improve the resilience of the region’s infrastructure, including roads, sea defences and power supply networks.

It comes as heavy rains continue to fall in Cumbria, flooding homes and sweeping away bridges.

ICE South West originally made its call for a more robust infrastructure in its State of the Nation report, published earlier this year. In a briefing sheet examining the South West in more detail, ICE South West said infrastructure was the ‘backbone’ of the nation – but was under greater threat than ever before.

Barry Griffiths, Regional Director of the Institution of Civil Engineers South West, said: "The terrible floods in Cumbria have shown how vulnerable communities and people are when severe weather hits and critical infrastructure is unable to cope.

“Previous similar flooding incidents in the South West such as Boscastle and Gloucestershire also showed how communities - particularly rural ones - are prone to disruption on a grand scale if our infrastructure is not robust. An area of special concern in our region is the railway at Dawlish, which is vulnerable to storm damage and rising sea levels.

"We have asked the government to establish a new single point of authority for infrastructure resilience to coordinate the work of the agencies responsible for defending critical infrastructure and for the creation of a Natural Hazards Team."

The State of the Nation report highlighted the floods of summer 2007 as an incident that brought the South West to a standstill as the closure of the M5 virtually cut the region off from the rest of the country. The 2007 floods nearly escalated into a full-scale evacuation of Gloucestershire due to the vulnerability of the water and electricity supply networks.

The rail network is also susceptible to disruption, with Dawlish Warren particularly vulnerable to coastal erosion, rising sea levels and strong gales because the track runs so close to the sea defences.