UK – Army on Alert for Winter Floods

Following the winter flooding last year, more than 1,200 troops across the UK have been put on 24-hour standby to help in the event of flooding this winter.

As part of the Government’s drive for winter preparedness, the Ministry of Defence has also reviewed the way that the military supports authorities and made the mobilisation process easier during major flood incidents.

Throughout the year, military personnel have taken part in training exercises across the country to make sure they are prepared to reduce the impacts of floods across the UK. Last week it was Wiltshire’s turn with troops from 5th Battalion the Rifles and The King’s Royal Hussars carrying out flood defence training with the Environment Agency’s Operations Delivery team.

Part of the training involved erecting temporary barriers which work by creating an artificial wall to block the flow of water across the floodplain – preventing it from reaching those properties at risk without increasing the impact of flooding elsewhere.

Temporary flood defences are a short term means of limiting the impacts of flooding, for a limited period of time. These products are then entirely removed from site afterwards and have no fixed foundation, requiring only minor work in preparation (for example, vegetation clearance, levelling the ground) to enable their use.

Operations Manager for the Environment Agency, Maria Herlihy said:

“We have a strong partnership with the Army and have worked closely with them to help communities affected by flooding in previous years. This crucial partnership will strengthen our resilience, enabling battalions to be on hand to help with erecting temporary flood barriers, providing engineering and logistics support, and assisting with the evacuation of affected communities.”

Newcastle Quayside Barrier Test

Also as part of winter flood preparations, the Environment Agency recently tested the installation of temporary flood barriers in Newcastle, north east England.

Teams deployed 700 metres of temporary flood barriers along Newcastle’s Quayside as part of a ‘live’ training exercise on Tuesday 06 December.

It was the first time the temporary barriers, which form part of the Government’s national flood prevention plans, have been deployed and tested in the North East.

The exercise boosted flood resilience across the region by training staff how to put the barriers up as well as testing operational deployment plans for the Quayside.

Newcastle Quayside barrier test, 06 December. Credit: Lyndsey Clarke / Environment Agency