Jeremy Hunt MP hears from Waverley Infrastructure Resilience Group members about their Winter Plans for Godalming and South West Surrey

The significant progress made by Waverley Borough Council to reduce the impact of severe weather on local residents and businesses and provide a coherent and co-ordinated response  by leading agencies is the subject of a report presented to  Waverley’s Infrastructure Resilience Group on Friday 14 November.

The  report, Winter Readiness 2014-15, details flood defence works and months of work by councils, the Environment Agency and utility providers for any repeat of the severe weather that affected the borough last year.

Set up in January by Jeremy Hunt, MP for South West Surrey, and Leader of Waverley Borough Council, Councillor Robert Knowles in response to last winter’s severe weather; the Infrastructure Resilience Group  is co-ordinating the work of Waverley Borough Council, Surrey County Council,, the Environment Agency, Thames Water, Scottish and Southern Electricity and others to plan for a united response in the event of severe weather this winter.

Chairman of the group, Councillor Knowles  said:.

“Protecting residents from flooding, power cuts and disruption  is a top priority for the borough council. But to do this effectively means providing a robust plan and co-ordinating the work of many organisations who provide the infrastructure and services upon which we all depend. This is why we set up the Infrastructure Resilience Group and have worked hard to make sure that all the key agencies are working effectively together.

“Significant work has been done to  reduce flood as well as protecting  power lines from falling trees. We have also established excellent communications lines between  councils, the Environment Agency and public utilities to ensure that we are all able provide a quick and effectively response to any future crisis.

“The plan is designed for residents and communities and aims to equip them better with effective lines of communication and action if they are affected by severe weather this winter”.

Doug Hill from the Environment Agency said:

“ Following the winter floods, we have been working closely with partner organisations including Surrey County Council, Waverley Borough Council and local communities to make Waverley more resilient to flooding. Our work includes;  the £1 million channel capacity restoration project on the River Wey, setting up the Godalming Flood Group to help the community be more resilient to flooding, holding a flood surgery to help residents understand local flood risk issues and developing options to reduce flood risk to properties in Godalming”.

Jeremy Hunt, MP for South West Surrey said:

“Since the terrible weather hit over Christmas and New Year it was crucial to take hold of the situation to ensure that as an area we would be better prepared in the future.  The impact of days of power cuts and the severity of the flooding, particularly in the Godalming area, was devastating – some residents only now being able to return to their homes.  Each of the Group’s member organisations has been diligently assessing their processes and procedures, implementing repairs and renewing its infrastructure, improving their communication channels and planning for a more co-ordinated response should we experience similar this Winter.  I am proud to say that the Waverley Infrastructure Resilience Group is one of only a few examples nationally which has pro-actively taken forward such a strategic approach and whilst there is still much work to do, long-term,  to protect the area well into the future, we do hope that our residents will find the Winter Plan helpful and reassuring”.

The report includes contributions from:

Environment Agency

Surrey County Council

Thames Water

Scottish and Southern Electric

Waverley Borough Council

Surrey Police

Openreach

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service

Godalming Town Council

UK Power

All have made preparations and will be part of a the response co-ordinated by Waverley Borough Council if severe weather strikes the borough again this winter.

Advice for residents and businesses to prepare for bad weather and what to do in an emergency is available on Waverley Borough Council’s website www.waverley.gov.uk/emergencies.