Climate Change Commission of Enquiry

Climate Change Commission of Enquiry
Hearing 4, 19th September 2007
Report of the County Emergency Planning Officer (and Chairman of
the Emergency Planning Society), Ian Hoult
The Emergency Planning Unit submitted a report to Hearing 2 (Infrastructure) of the
Commission setting out some of the issues relating to climate change which impact
upon emergency planning in a general context. Via this paper and a subsequent
presentation I shall be making to the Commission on 19th September this report aims
to give a sharper focus to some of the issues debated. This paper also aims to answer
some questions raised at Hearing 2 in respect of emergency planning.
In my capacity as Chairman of the Emergency Planning Society, the professional
organisation for emergency planning practitioners nationally in the UK and Republic of
Ireland, I recently appeared on the Newsnight television programme and have been
specifically asked to refer to the points I made on that occasion for the benefit of the
National issues
The early Summer of this year saw large parts of the Country seriously affected by
flooding. There was a great deal of media interest in the flooding and of course as the
situation began to improve the media moved into the “who is to blame?” mode. In my
national role I was invited to appear on Newsnight and answer some specific questions
in relation to this. Bearing in mind that emergency planning officers are solely
interested in consequence management and the causes are largely irrelevant I made
the following points. Parts of the Country which experienced a ‘better’ response to the
situation were those where a clear and strategic command and control procedure had
been put in place and done early in the response timeframe. When asked why this
hadn’t been done everywhere I explained that unlike practically every other type of
emergency imaginable for flooding there is no one single agency at both national and
local level that takes the lead role. Therefore if no one agency comes to the fore at a
local level and makes it happen – it doesn’t happen.
I went on to add that it makes no difference which agency is given that role, Police,
Fire or Local Authority, as we are all used to doing that for different types of
emergency, but Government should give one of those agencies that Lead role. Locally
in Hampshire we have a County wide Flood Plan and have agreed that Hampshire
County Council would be the lead agency in responding to a flood event.
Other Issues
For Hampshire County Council I believe that one of the best ways of ensuring that the
issues around climate change are addressed is by factoring in the influences into both
the County Council’s Corporate Risk Register and also the Hampshire Resilience
Forum’s Community Risk Register. It is my view that climate change should not only
be addressed as a risk in its own right but rather that the potential effects of climate
change are taken into account when assessing other risks in terms of the Corporate
Risk Register that would mean looking the effects upon approach to transport and
transport infrastructure; the Basingstoke Canal; the way we deliver our services in
terms of IT resilience, Business Continuity Arrangements; financial risk management;
and the way we allocate resources in general.
For the Local Resilience Forum Community Risk Register the key areas where climate
change would influence the risk assessment and the subsequent need to have plans in
place are for issues such as storms and gales; low temperatures and heavy snow;
flooding, coastal, tidal, fluvial, flash flooding and groundwater flooding; heatwave; land
movement, tremors and landslides. For all of these risks and for those mentioned in
3.1 above it is possible that climate change will influence both aspects of risk
assessment i.e. the likelihood of these events occurring and, or, the consequences of
these events should they happen. Additionally all of this has budgetary considerations
as if new plans, procedures and arrangements are required AND there will be a
requirement to respond to these events more often and for more significant effects
then these will require additional funding.
Of particular note is the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 in two regards: firstly it gives
Hampshire County Council a statutory duty to prevent emergencies from occurring as
far as is reasonably practicable. To what extent do experts consider climate change is
a preventable emergency and therefore how should the County Council exercise its
statutory duty under the CCA in this respect; secondly the Act requires HCC to put into
place arrangements to ensure it can respond to emergencies and continue to deliver
its services to the population of Hampshire during times of emergency. To what extent
can Hampshire continue to do these in the face of the effects of climate change, is this
achievable? Is climate change in its own right a foreseeable emergency we must
prepare for and have plans to mitigate the effects of?
I have mentioned above the Hampshire Local Resilience Forum, a process comprised
of all agencies which have a statutory duty to respond to emergencies – the Police,
Fire, Health, Coastguard, Environment Agency, local authorities. I would pose the
following question for the Commission to consider: how much is it down to HCC to
resolve these issues or should we be looking to set up a Hampshire wide multi agency
body to look at the potential consequences of climate change?
I look forward to addressing the Commission on 19th September and exploring in more
detail these and other issues.