News story

Military support urgent flood defence inspections

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Military personnel will assist the Environment Agency in inspecting flood defences across England.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has announced that more than 200 personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and RAF will be trained by the Environment Agency over the next week to act as flood defence assessors.

Once trained, the service personnel will be tasked by the Environment Agency to support the assessment of around 150,000 flood defences and use an electronic system to report back their findings.

The task is expected to take 6 weeks and military personnel will work both independently and alongside Environment Agency flood defence inspectors. The individuals selected will be chosen on the basis of their ability to understand their training and apply it in the field.

Soldiers erect flood defences alongside the River Thames
Soldiers erect flood defences alongside the River Thames in Staines [Picture: Corporal Richard Cave, Crown copyright]

The Environment Agency requested this support from MOD in order to increase their capacity and carry out the task more quickly.

Military engineers remain on standby to assist with assessments and repair work as areas move from flood response to flood recovery.

Mr Hammond said:

We have agreed with the Environment Agency to use military personnel to carry out a rapid inspection of all flood defences. It is important to remember that the series of weather events in the last few months have caused quite serious damage to our flood defence infrastructure.

Aerial view of flooding in Oxfordshire
Aerial view of flooding in Oxfordshire [Picture: Sergeant Mitch Moore, Crown copyright]

Military personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and the Royal Air Force continue to provide flood relief in affected parts of the UK, including in the south west and the Thames Valley where the majority of requests for military assistance have been made.

More than 3,000 servicemen and women have been committed to tasks, with thousands more at a state of high readiness to assist if required.

Commenting on the widespread deployment of the military so far, Mr Hammond said:

As we bring our troops back from Afghanistan and from Germany, we would like to see the military playing a bigger role in this kind of homeland resilience task in the future.