Last edited 03 Nov 2016

Pitt Review Lessons learned from the 2007 floods


[edit] Introduction

The Pitt Review: Lessons learned from the 2007 floods, published on 25 June 2008, was prepared by Sir Michael Pitt following the widespread flooding that took place in England in June and July 2007. The 505 page report was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

55,000 properties were flooded, 7,000 people had to be rescued and 13 people died in June and July 2007. Nearly 500,000 people were left without water or electricity and the insurance bill was expected to be more than £3 billion. Tim Brain, Chief Constable of Gloucestershire said “In terms of scale, complexity and duration, this is simply the largest peacetime emergency we’ve seen”. 2007 was a year of more than 200 major floods globally, causing £40 billion worth of damage. However, the floods in England were the most expensive.

Sir Michael Pitt was asked to carry out a review focussing on; flood risk management, the resilience and vulnerability of critical infrastructure, the emergency response, emergency planning and the recovery phase. This was described by Pitt as " of the widest ranging policy reviews ever carried out in the UK".

[edit] Recommendations

The review began in August 2007. More than 1,000 pieces of written evidence were received during a three month consultation period. An interim report was published in December 2007 and a progress report on urgent recommendations was published on 16 April 2008.

Pitt suggested that “… the risk of flooding continues to escalate; making the events that shattered so many communities last year an ever increasing threat” (Ref press release 25 June 2008).

Key recommendations of his final report included:

  • Establishing a cabinet committee to address the risk of flooding.
  • Adopting a long-term approach to flood risk management, with priority given to adaptation and mitigation, and above inflation increases in the resourcing of flood resilience measures.
  • Establishing a National Resilience Forum to facilitate emergency planning at a national level.
  • A presumption against building in high flood risk areas.
  • Pre-planning financial arrangements for responding to exceptional emergencies.
  • Action to ensure the resilience of critical infrastructure such as power, water and transport (in particular dams and reservoirs).
  • A wider brief for the Environment Agency, taking a national overview of all flood risk.
  • A ‘step change in the quality of flood warnings ‘ with the Environment Agency and the Met Office working to improve forecasting, modelling and warning systems.
  • Establishing a national capability for flood rescue.
  • Using armed forces personnel to provide logistical advice during civil emergencies.
  • Providing better information, awareness and advice.
  • Preventing householders from laying impermeable surfaces on front gardens.
  • Removing the automatic right to connect surface water drainage from new developments to the sewerage system.
  • Local authorities leading on the management of local flood risk.
  • Preparation of emergency flood kits by the public.
  • A Director in Defra overseeing the programme of delivery and issuing regular progress updates.
  • The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee assessing progress after 12 months.

[edit] After the review

A number of responses, progress reports and legislative changes have been made since the Pitt Review:

The final progress report suggested that 43 of the 92 recommendations in the Pitt Review had been implemented and a further 46 were progressing (although no deadlines were given for these remaining recommendations). Dr Pete Fox, Head of Strategy and investment, Flood and Coastal Risk Management, at the Environment Agency suggested that "Some really good things have come out of the Pitt Review, but plenty more needs to happen” (ref BBC news Floods 2007: Five years on, has enough been done?)

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