Critical infrastructure including the Channel Tunnel and several south east rail lines are seriously vulnerable to serious flooding, the Environment Agency warned last week.
This was among the initial conclusions which followed the Agency’s Exercise Watermark four day national flood response practice event earlier this month.
Environment Agency Exercise Watermark project executive Peter Midgley told a meeting of the disaster risk awareness body the Hazards Forum this week that real time exercise, designed to test the nation’s flood resilience, highlighted possible failures of critical infrastructure. These will be identified in a report to be published in mid-July.
A Transport for London representative told the meeting that infrastructure most at risk included the Channel Tunnel and several rail lines in south east England.
Midgely said all Exercise Watermark participants found the scenario seriously challenging, because it was “purposefully set on the very edge of what the UK might be capable of coping with”.
He said of the response to the exercise: “There are − as there will always be − improvements that can be made.”
He said that of the surface water, fluvial, reservoir and coastal flooding events included in the exercise scenario, tidal flooding presented the biggest challenge. “Tidal flooding will always be the worst because the power of the waves has so much power for destruction.”
Former ICE president Jean Venables said the recent flooding, earthquakes and tsunami in Australia, New Zealand and Japan have illustrated the importance of disaster preparation. She said they made the extreme combination of flood events in the Exercise Watermark scenario seem less exaggerated.
Midgley said that Exercise Watermark will now be used as the basis for an exercise to look at long term flood recovery plans. He said these were harder and more complex to devise than the immediate flood response.
He said Exercise Watermark participants will contribute to the July report, before action plans are produced in September.