National Recovery Guidance: infrastructure issues

Guidance primarily for local responders covering some infrastructure issues that may arise during the Recovery Phase of a UK emergency.

Access to and security of sites

Background and context

In the aftermath of an emergency, access to and security of affected sites will become an important issue for a number of reasons. Access to sites must be limited for investigative purposes, insurance reasons, as well as protection of human health. The site must be secured as it may be unsafe for people to enter it, or it may be contaminated.

Multi-agency involvement will be necessary to ensure that sites are secure and access is given only to appropriate parties until it is deemed safe.

Policy and guidance: England


Following the rescue phase; in any incident where there is a police investigation into the cause and/or fatalities, the police will co-ordinate activities at the scene to recover the deceased and recover evidence as part of a criminal investigation; where relevant this will also be done in conjunction with other statutory investigative bodies eg the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB). The police may appoint a Scene Evidence Recovery Manager to facilitate this purpose. This officer will (on behalf of the Senior Investigation Officer (SIO) and the Senior Identification Manager (SIM) develop a plan for the site to recover human remains and evidence (including property). This will normally involve the formation of a Scene Evidence Recovery Group, involving specialist police staff, health and safety advisors, contractors and other relevant organisations eg RAIB. This group will determine priorities, protocols for operating and ensure safe operating practices.

However, in the rescue phase the police will normally operate a system of scene access control, which is a system of logging and escorting people who need urgent access to sites and the inner cordon area such as specialist medical staff, utilities companies, district surveyors, salvagers and conservators. During the rescue phase no person will be given authority to gain access to the ‘rescue zone’ without the authority of the on site fire service commander.

The (non-statutory) guidance on site clearance published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in October 2005 - Guidance on development of a site clearance capability in England and Wales - also contains advice on managing site access and security.

The HSE has a duty as a category 2 responder under the Civil Contingencies Act to provide relevant and specialist advice. This will continue into the recovery phase. Guidance on the role of the HSE in an emergency can be found in HSE’s role in response to a serious incident/emergency.

Access by the insurance industry

Loss adjusters (who are commissioned through the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA)) will need to be given access to the site to inspect properties before an insurance claim is settled. This will only occur when the site has been deemed safe.

A protocol - The role of the insurance industry in dealing with civil emergencies - is in place between the Association of British Insurers (ABI), The Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA), aviation insurers’ representatives, Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB), the Local Government Association (LGA), the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

The protocol sets out a framework for co-operation between the parties in the event of an emergency. It is not legally binding, but there is an expectation that parties to the protocol will abide by its provisions and co-operate to the fullest possible degree in ensuring it is operationalised. The protocol was introduced on 20 September 2007 and will be reviewed biennially in the light of experience.

Animal diseases

During an animal disease outbreak the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) policy on restrictions on public rights of way and access to open country is based on a clear principle that that there should be a presumption in favour of maintaining public access, more details can be found in Defra’s revised Contingency Plan for Exotic Diseases of Animals (December, 2009).

In Wales, such information can be found on the Welsh Exotic Animal Disease Contingency Plan

For information in Scotland, please see the Scotland’s Exotic Animal Disease Contingency Framework Plan

CBRN Emergencies

In the event of a CBRN emergency, Home Office guidance features points regarding cordons for areas affected by chemicals through terrorist incidents.

Hazardous materials (HAZMAT) guidance provides information on maintaining cordons following accidents at sites which are controlled by Control of major accident hazards (COMAH) regulations.

Policy and guidance: Wales

No differences.

Policy and guidance: Scotland


Policy and guidance: Northern Ireland


Roles and responsibilities: England

Local and regional

Following an emergency, the Police are responsible for co-ordinating all the activities at the scene, including managing the cordons and traffic control. Whilst the police have a role in ensuring the security of the site, local authorities and the private sector may also be involved in crime prevention in areas made vacant by evacuation. For more information, see Evacuation and shelter guidance, Chapter 6. Military aid may also be required.

Once the site is released by the Police, the local authority has limited responsibilities to maintain cordons, which are applicable only to building and highway safety. The Health Protection Agency, through the local director of Public Health, also has responsibilities on public health grounds. Otherwise, responsibility for site access and security falls on the site owner and insurers.

The HSE will be required to deem a site safe for re-entry in relation to those sites (eg workplaces) where they have ‘jurisdiction’ / have been carrying out an investigation.

Lead government department

There is no one lead government department responsible for access to and security of sites. This will be a cross governmental effort, if required, and will be emergency specific.

Defra will be the chief contact in the event of an incident involving animal disease. Defra will work with relevant organisations to determine whether access needs to be restricted to parts of the countryside to prevent the spread of disease.

Other government involvement

The departments involved will be determined by the type of incident that has occurred.

Roles and responsibilities: Wales

In Wales, the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer at the Welsh Assembly Government will work closely with Animal Health and DEFRA on access issues.

Roles and responsibilities: Scotland


Roles and responsibilities: Northern Ireland


Funding: England

In the case of accidental or malicious damage, local authorities may look to claim back the costs from the party responsible for causing the damage.

Case studies (incidents and exercises)


Background and context

Incidents such as the January 2007 gales, the North East water supply failure in January 2005 and the widespread flooding in June and July 2007, have demonstrated that effective co-ordination and communication between local responders and suppliers lead to effective recovery within the power (fuel, electricity, gas) and communications (landline and mobile) sectors.

Restoration of significantly damaged services can take a considerable period of time (days or weeks in some instances), and responders and suppliers need to work together to provide support to the affected communities. Critical to this is a joint understanding of how long services will take to restore, and in which order services will be restored.

Policy and guidance: England

Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) holds policy responsibility in Great Britain for gas and electricity supplies. In the unlikely scenario that there is insufficient gas or electricity supplies to meet demand, DECC have a number of response tools available to help manage the situation and mitigate the impacts.

Gas emergency arrangements

In the event of a gas supply emergency, the Network Emergency Co-ordinator (NEC), an industry senior manager, can use powers under the Gas Safety (Management) Regulations GS(M)R to control supply and demand. The NEC can direct five stages of a network gas supply emergency;

Five stages of a network gas supply emergency table

Stage Description Power
1 Potential emergency Isolation of supplies to large non-domestic consumers with interruptible supply contracts
2 Actual emergency Maximisation of beach gas and storage; suspension of the commercial arrangements
3 Firm load shedding Isolation of supplies to large non-domestic consumers with firm supply contracts
4 Network isolation Isolation of local gas networks including domestic and non-domestic consumers
5 Restoration Phased restoration of gas supplies

In the event of a gas supply emergency, there are 3 categories of priority (protected) consumer:

  • Category A - vital for public safety including hospitals.
  • Category B - as above but with interruptible supply contracts.
  • Category C - industrial sites that would suffer £50 million damage.

Priority users receive limited protection and are not protected against a local supply failure or damage to the service pipe work and associated equipment.

Electricity emergency arrangements

The initial response to an electricity supply emergency is led by the industry using powers that enable them to control short term electricity generation and demand. Most incidents are managed in this way.

Because of the need to act quickly the industry cannot usually protect any particular customers from disconnection or prioritise their reconnection. They are however aware of the importance of providing power as quickly as possible to critical sites such as hospitals and will take these into account when it is possible to prioritise reconnection.

In the event of a prolonged electricity supply emergency either across a region or nationally, it may be necessary to restrict the demand and consumption of electricity. In this far more remote situation the government can use emergency powers to instruct the electricity industry to retain supplies to key sites (see next paragraph) and share the electricity available among all other customers by the use of rota disconnections where consumers are cut off in blocks for 3 hours at a time on a pre–planned rota.

Certain categories of organisation can apply for inclusion on the priority user lists that provide exemption from these rota disconnections (but not from the much more likely causes of electricity disruption).

Downstream oil

Technical incidents occur from time to time in the downstream oil sector without any discernable impact on supplies, and are managed and resolved by the companies concerned. Oil companies have well practiced emergency response measures.

DECC is the lead government department for coordinating the response to a significant disruption to supply or demand patterns in the downstream oil sector in the United Kingdom. As part of the ongoing programme of work conducted by the government to build resilience to disruptive challenges, DECC has developed with key stakeholders the National Emergency Plan for Fuel.

The plan identifies how resources of the downstream oil industry and government can be used in an emergency. It also identifies the command structure and teams available to provide leadership and industry knowledge to enable the government to select and use one or more appropriate emergency response tools to manage any significant disruption.


The Electronic Communications Resilience and Response Group (EC-RRG) promotes the availability of electronic communications infrastructures in the UK and provides an industry emergency response capability through ownership and maintenance of the National Emergency Plan for Telecommunications.

Water and sewerage

Guidance and legislation related to water and sewerage providers can be found in the resources on resilience

Policy and guidance: Wales

The Welsh Assembly Government is responsible for water policy in Wales including:

  • water supply and resources
  • the regulatory systems for water environment
  • the water industry

The Assembly Government works closely with Natural Resources Wales to manage:

Policy and guidance: Scotland

In Scotland, the policy responsibility for Scottish Water (a public corporation, the sole water and sewerage undertaker in Scotland) rests with the Scottish Executive under Scottish legislation. These organisations work closely together with Defra and the rest of the water industry in England and Wales to ensure that all plans will operate together if required. There is a similar Direction in place to that for England and Wales.

Policy and guidance: Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland the Water Service Agency reports to the Department for Regional Development. Further information can be found in the resources on resilience.

Roles and responsibilities: England

The Planning for major water and wastewater incidents in England and Wales: generic guidance sets out the respective responsibilities at the local, regional and national levels.

Power suppliers

Electricity power suppliers have to take reasonable measures to avoid disruption. They may face a financial penalty if the numbers of people without power go above a certain threshold. For further information about this please contact your local power supplier in the first instance.

Lead government department

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is the lead government department for co-ordinating the response to a national non-terrorist related disruption within the power (fuel, electricity, gas) and communications sectors in the United Kingdom.

Defra is the lead government department for water and wastewater incidents in England.

Other government involvement

If the scale of the incident required co-ordinated UK central government action, most departments, including the devolved administrations and the government offices are likely to be involved in the response due to the wide ranging consequences that are likely to arise. The concept of operations document describes how the UK central government response would be organised.

Roles and responsibilities: Wales

For water and wastewater, the Welsh Assembly leads in Wales. The Planning for major water and wastewater incidents in England and Wales: generic guidance sets out the respective responsibilities at the local, regional and national levels.

Power and telecommunications are not devolved in Wales. However, the Welsh Assembly Government will have a role to play in the recovery work where the consequences impact upon devolved functions.

Roles and responsibilities: Scotland

For water and wastewater, the Scottish Executive leads in Scotland.

Roles and responsibilities: Scotland

For water and wastewater in Northern Ireland, the Water Service Agency reports to the Department for Regional Development.

In Northern Ireland, the equivalent Department to DECC is the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Industry. They hold policy responsibility for their Downstream Gas and Electricity National Emergency Plan.

Case studies (incidents and exercises)

Repairs to domestic properties

Background and Context

The provision of adequate, safe and healthy housing following an emergency is obviously a key concern, especially going into the medium term. For example, in the June 2007 flooding, there were approximately 27,000 residential properties where the habitable accommodation was affected.

Policy and guidance: England

Social Housing

Local Authorities ensure that minimum housing standards are maintained by inspecting against and enforcing the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, which replaced the fitness Standard on 1 April 2006.

The rating system is a risk assessment, goal setting system, rather than a prescriptive system. As such, Local Authorities have a lot of leeway in deciding whether to allow less than ideal housing to continue to be used in the event of an emergency where other accommodation is not available.

Guidance on the rating system and on the enforcement of the rating system is available here:

Private Housing

Repairs to private housing will usually be carried out by builders provided through the householder’s (Home Buildings) insurance company. More information on this can be found in ‘Dealing with insurance’ in this guide.

Building Control

Communities and Local Government has published a Building Control Performance Standards document, which all building control bodies (Local Authorities and Approved Inspectors) are recommended to follow.

Choosing a builder

Local Authority Trading Standards Teams can play a key role in communication with regards to encouraging the public to use reputable builders, rather than rogue traders.

All construction works should abide by the HSE’s Approved code of practice for managing health and safety in construction.

Dangerous materials

Local authorities can also play a key role in communicating some of the dangerous materials that can arise when repairing properties; in particular if householders are attempting the repair works themselves. For example, these dangers can include asbestos, lead pipes and lead paint.

The HSE has produced Asbestos Essentials Guidance.

Listed buildings

Some buildings may be protected by designation. More information on how to repair properties covered by such designations can be found in ‘Historic environment’ in this guide.

Policy and guidance: Wales

Housing is a devolved matter, although the Housing Health and Safety Rating System applies equally to Wales as to England.

Policy and guidance: Scotland

Social landlords have responsibilities in law to keep their houses wind and watertight and reasonably fit for human habitation. There is also a right to repair scheme. Under the scheme, landlords should carry out small urgent repairs within a specified time. If the landlord’s contractor fails to start the repair on time, the tenant may instruct another listed contractor to carry out the repair instead. In such circumstances, the tenant is also entitled to a compensation payment from the landlord.

The Right to Repair regulations do allow for suspension of the maximum period so long as there are circumstances of an exceptional nature, beyond the control of the landlord or the contractor who is to carry out the qualifying repair, which prevent the repair being carried out. In such cases the landlord is required to let the Scottish secure tenant know of the suspension of the running of the maximum period.

Policy and guidance: Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, public housing policy and delivery is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), which works with Housing Associations to provide public sector and social housing.

Where an emergency causes damage to NIHE property, there are contingency arrangements in place to provide emergency security and weather-proofing repairs and to make permanent repairs as quickly as possible. The scheme under which these actions are taken is provided for by The Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1988. NIHE tenants are allocated temporary accommodation if their properties are uninhabitable while repairs are carried out.

The NIHE may also make emergency weatherproofing repairs to privately-owned property on request in the event of civil disturbance and terrorist action and severe weather. For further information see the Department for Social Development, NI website

Roles and Responsibilities: England

Local and regional

Both housing strategies and enforcement of housing standards are run at the district or unitary local authority level. As such, local authorities will play the major role in any housing standards aspect of a recovery project.

The building control function is a statutory requirement for local authorities in accordance with sections 91 and 92 of the Building Act 1984. To provide a building regulation plan checking and site inspection service, to ensure that construction works submitted to approval meet the requirements of the building regulations.

Local authorities also have a statutory requirement to administer the following services, which are usually linked to the building control role:

  • building regulation application for disabled applicants
  • approved Inspector register
  • enforcement
  • receipt of building noticed for cavity wall insulation
  • safety at sports grounds
  • local land charges questions
  • inspection of dangerous structures
  • administration in respect of demolition of structures
  • checking planning conditions
  • licensing consultee

The traditional local authority building control function was opened to the private sector in 1985. Several companies and individuals, known as Approved Inspectors, now offer the building regulation service in direct competition to local authorities. Approved Inspectors are regulated by CLG through the Construction Industry Council (CIC).

The Local Authority Trading Standards Service will offer advice and assistance for consumers who are seeking repairs to domestic properties and/or are having problems. Incidences of rogue trading activity can also be reported to Trading Standards for investigation.

Anyone needing further advice can call Consumer Direct – a telephone and online consumer advice service funded by government and managed by the Office of Fair Trading. It operates in partnership with Local Authority Trading Standards Services to offer consumers clear, practical and impartial advice and information.

The Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) is the local government central body responsible for overseeing local authority regulatory and related services, including private sector housing. LACORS is responsible for:

  • providing specialist advice and guidance
  • promoting good practice
  • influencing and lobbying on behalf of local government, and
  • leading and partnering initiatives to enhance the reputation of regulatory services

Lead government department

Communities and Local Government (CLG) is the Lead Government Department for the regulation of housing.

Devolved Administrations

Housing is a completely devolved matter.

Funding: England

Funding for housing standards is managed directly by Local Authorities.

Depending on the Regional Housing Strategy, some funding may be available from the Regional Housing Board.

Funding: Wales

Housing is a completely devolved matter and funding for the owner-occupied sector is primarily derived from local authority General Capital Funding (GCF) which is unhypothecated. Funding for public sector stock is from the Major Repairs Allowance (MRA) and the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).

Funding: Scotland

Housing is a devolved matter. The Scottish Government Housing and Regeneration Directorate oversee housing matters in Scotland.

Funding: Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the lead government department for public-sector housing is the Department for Social Development (DSD). The Northern Ireland Housing Executive is a non-departmental public body of DSD. Social and public housing is funded by the NI Housing Executive on behalf of the Department for Social Development.

Trading Standards in Northern Ireland is a function of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. Building Control services are provided by Northern Ireland district councils.

Case studies (incidents and exercises)

Useful organisations

Historic Environment

Background and Context

Natural and man made emergencies have a devastating impact on the historic environment – buildings, archaeological remains, historic landscapes – and on cultural property contained in museums, art galleries, libraries, archives and peoples’ homes. Many people find that losing treasured items such wedding albums, treasured heirlooms or photographs of children can be the worst long term impact of the emergency once rebuilding has taken place.

Policy and guidance: England

The historic environment is protected in a variety of ways – by legislation and by planning controls.

The main statutory provisions relating to planning controls on listed buildings are contained in The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Regulations 1990 [SI 1990/1519] as amended.

Scheduled Ancient Monuments are protected under the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act as amended. It is a criminal offence to undertake works to listed buildings or scheduled ancient monuments without detailed written consent, although there are certain exceptions for emergency works provided authorisations are given by the appropriate authorities (Local Authority, English Heritage or Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS).

The main guidance is Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) 15: Planning and the Historic Environment. This was published in September 1994 by the then Department of the Environment and Department of National Heritage (now DCMS). It provides a full statement of Government policies for the identification and protection of historic buildings (including the listing of buildings of special architectural or historic interest), conservation areas, and other elements of the historic environment, such as World Heritage Sites, Registered Historic Parks and Gardens, Historic Battlefields, and explains the role played by the planning system in their protection. It is intended not only for local authorities, but also for other public authorities, property owners, developers, amenity bodies and members of the public with an interest in this subject. It complements the guidance in Planning Policy Guidance 16: Archaeology and Planning.

Amendments to PPG 15 have been included in DETR Circular 01/2001, ODPM Circular 09/2005 and DCLG Circular 01/2007.

Paragraphs 3.16ff of PPG 15 cover demolition of historic buildings, and paragraphs 7.1ff cover their upkeep and repair, including the need for urgent works, repairs notices, and compulsory acquisition of listed buildings needing repair. Paragraph 6.31 covers the removal of buildings from the list where they no longer meet the statutory criteria. The government has recently published a White Paper, Heritage protection for the 21st Century, which sets out its proposals for creating a single Historic Asset designation and single register.

Devolved Administrations

The 1990 Act referred to above, and the regulations made under it, relate to England and Wales, though analogous legislation was made in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Planning is a devolved matter, and Wales generally now adopts separate but analogous regulations to those which apply in England.

Roles and Responsibilities: England

Local and Regional

Applications for listed building and conservation area consent are handled by local planning authorities, though the Secretary of State deals with appeals against an authority’s decision or failure to give a decision, and may direct that an application be referred for his/her own decision. English Heritage are consulted on applications involving Grade 1 and 2* buildings, registered Parks and Gardens, Battlefields and World Heritage Sites, and on applications involving Grade 2 listed buildings in London. A separate system exists for scheduled monuments and applicants seek permission from DCMS who are advised by English Heritage. Local Authorities handle the archaeological aspects of planning applications as part of their normal planning control process.

There are no statutory controls over cultural property akin to the designation and planning systems outlined above, although certain museums, libraries and archives are designated national repositories. Applications for export licences of cultural property are dealt with by DCMS. The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council administer schemes relating to museums, libraries and archives, and these include provision for emergency planning and business continuity. Some regions, such as the East Midlands, have collaboration arrangements offering mutual assistance in the event of an emergency (a good example of this model is REDS – Regional Emergency and Disaster Support. Many local authorities have contracts in place with emergency organisations, and libraries, archives and museums are advised to find out if they are covered by such schemes as part of their normal business continuity and emergency planning arrangements.

Individuals who have cultural property affected by emergencies (whether that be damage to a rare book, the architectural features of an historic house, or a treasured family photograph) may wish to use professional conservators to help repair damage and are advised to contact the Institute of Conservation for advice on appointing conservators (see Contacts at the end of this guide).

Preventive measures

Local Authorities can encourage everyone who owns cultural property to help protect it by making plans of what to do in an emergency. These plans (emergency plans) should examine what needs to be done in different scenarios, eg flood or fire; identify key priority items and make arrangements for their salvage; and run regular exercises checking that the plans work and this will include arrangements for reviewing and updating the plans in light of the results. Further advice on this issue can be found in the Flooding and historic buildings technical advice note on the English Heritage website.

Lead government department

Communities and Local Government (CLG) are the Lead Government Department for planning controls on the historic environment.

The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) are responsible for the listing of buildings. English Heritage administers the listing system on behalf of the DCMS Secretary of State and gives grants for historic environment repair.

Other government involvement

DEFRA operate European Union funding schemes such as Environmental Stewardship schemes and grant schemes funded by the waste industry.

The Treasury are involved, together with DCMS, with certain tax exemption schemes which are both general and specific to the historic environment. These include the Acceptance in Lieu scheme where cultural property is transferred to public ownership while paying inheritance tax or one of its earlier forms. The tax payer is given the full marked value of the item.

English Heritage is a repository of expertise on the protection of historic buildings, and as well as advising Government, it is required to be notified by local authorities of applications affecting buildings of outstanding national interest (normally those listed Grade I and II*).

Roles and responsibilities: Wales

The Welsh Assembly Government supports the historic environment through its division Cadw (Cadw is a Welsh word meaning ‘to keep’ or ‘to protect’) and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW).

Cadw works to promote the conservation of Wales’ historic environment and provides:

  • advice on the conservation and maintenance of historic buildings, ancient monuments, historic landscapes and underwater archaeology
  • grants for conservation and repairs for the historic environment
  • comments on applications for development or demolition that impact upon the historic environment

Roles and responsibilities: Scotland

Historic Scotland is an executive agency of The Scottish Executive responsible for discharging the functions in relation to the protection and presentation of Scotland’s built heritage and advising on built heritage policy. It administers statutory duties for the listing and protection of historic buildings and for the scheduling and protection of ancient monuments under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The agency is also responsible for producing the Memorandum of Guidance on Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas. A series of Technical Advice Notes (TANs) offer detailed guidance on various issues related to the use and repair of historic buildings and traditional building materials. Historic Scotland is also responsible for the direct management and promotion of over 300 historic properties in State care.

Roles and responsibilities: Northern Ireland


Funding: England

In the case of damage due to natural causes, the owner of the property would be expected to meet costs, supported by any insurance if available.

Funding: devolved administrations

As noted above.

Case studies (incidents and exercises)

Other useful documents



  • English Heritage, The use of intumescent products in historic buildings, London: English Heritage, 1997
  • English Heritage, Timber panelled doors and fire. Upgrading the fire resistance performance of timber panelled doors and frames, London: English Heritage, 1997
  • English Heritage, Fire safety management in cathedrals, London: English Heritage:1997
  • English Heritage, Prevention of loss or damage by fire in cathedrals, London: English Heritage, 1997
  • English Heritage, Smoke detection systems for cathedrals, London: English Heritage, 1997
  • English Heritage, Surge protection equipment: A guide to selection and installation in historic buildings, London: English Heritage, 2003
  • Historic Scotland, Technical Advice Note 11, Fire protection measures in Scottish historic buildings, Edinburgh: Historic Scotland, 1997
  • Historic Scotland, Technical Advice Note 14, Sprinkler protection of historic buildings, Edinburgh: Historic Scotland, 1998
  • Kidd,S., Fire safety management in heritage buildings. Historic Scotland Technical Advice Note 28, Edinburgh: Historic Scotland, 2005. ISBN 1-904966-11-X
  • Kidd, S. ed., Heritage under Fire: A Guide to the Protection of Historic Buildings, Second Edition, London: Fire Protection Association, 1995. ISBN 0-902167-90-1
  • Maxwell, I. et al, eds., Fire Protection and the Built Heritage, Edinburgh: Historic Scotland, 1999. ISBN 1-9001 68-72-3

Cultural property

  • Ball, C. and Yardley-Jones, A., Help! A survivor’s guide to emergency preparedness, Alberta: Museums Alberta, 2001. ISBN 0-9694518-1-4
  • Clarke, J., Hope for the best but plan for the worst – the need for disaster planning, Employment Relations Today, Vol 22, No 4, 1995
  • Dorge,V., Jones, S. L. eds., Building an emergency plan: a guide for museums and other cultural institutions, Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute, 1999. ISBN 089236-529-3
  • Stovel, H., Risk preparedness: a management manual for world cultural heritage, Rome: ICCROM, 1998. ISBN 92-9077-152-6.
  • Wellheiser, J., Scott, J., An ounce of prevention: Integrated disaster planning for archives, libraries and record centres, 2nd Edition, London: Scarecrow Press, 2002. ISBN 0 8108-4176-2

Useful organisations

Site clearance

Background and context

On 11 September 2001, following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, 1.6 million tonnes of building debris was created as a result of the collapse of the Twin Towers. Whilst, in the UK, the incidents requiring site clearance have been smaller in scale, each has presented particular challenges and confirmed the need for effective planning and preparation.

So as part of the government’s Civil Contingencies Capabilities Programme, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, now the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), in co-operation with the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG), has been responsible for encouraging site clearance planning across England and Wales.

Policy and guidance: England

The main source of (non-statutory) guidance on site clearance is a document published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in October 2005 - Guidance on development of a site clearance capability in England and Wales. Annex A of this guidance, which sets out the roles and responsibilities of organisations involved in site clearance, was updated in August 2012.

Policy and guidance: Wales

No differences for Wales: the guidance on site clearance, referred to above, was published in partnership between ODPM and the Welsh Assembly Government on an England and Wales basis.

Policy and guidance: Scotland

The Scottish Government has produced guidance as part of ‘Preparing Scotland’.

Policy and guidance: Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, there is in production a joint protocol to co-ordinate an efficient road clearance response - Co-ordination of Road Clearance Activities in Response to a Major Incident or Public Disorder.

Roles and responsibilities: England

Local and regional

During the early phases of an incident, the Police and the Fire and Rescue Service will take responsibility for commissioning site clearance activity where necessary for the conduct of search and rescue activities. They will do so in close co-operation with other responders and contractors. During the recovery phase, lead responsibility will normally pass to local authorities operating in close co-operation with site owners, insurers and contractors. For full details of organisational roles during site clearance, please refer to Annex A – key roles and responsibilities in guidance on development of a site clearance capability in England and Wales.

Lead government department

Where national input or assistance is required on incidents requiring site clearance, nomination of a lead government department will reflect the nature and cause of the incident. For full details of the Lead Government Department role during site clearance, please refer to Annex A – key roles and responsibilities in guidance on development of a site clearance capability in England and Wales.

Resilience advisors / government liaison officers will help local partners make the connections with the appropriate lead government department.

Other government involvement

A number of other government organisations may have a role to play during a site clearance operation. These include DEFRA, the Government Decontamination Service (GDS), BIS, DfT and the Environment Agency (EA). For full details of their roles during site clearance, please refer to Annex A – key roles and responsibilities in guidance on development of a site clearance capability in England and Wales.

Roles and responsibilities: Wales

In Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government will lead in areas of devolved responsibility, and will act as a conduit with the nominated UK government department where the lead is not devolved.

Roles and responsibilities: Scotland


Roles and responsibilities: Northern Ireland

Strategic co-ordination arrangements in Northern Ireland are defined within Annex D of ‘A Guide to Emergency Planning Arrangements in Northern Ireland’.

Funding: England

In the case of accidental or malicious damage, the costs of site clearance would normally fall on the party responsible for causing the damage. In the case of damage through natural causes, responsibility for costs would normally be expected to rest with the owner or occupier of a property. For further information on funding of site clearance, including following terrorist incidents, refer to Chapter 4, Meeting the cost of site clearance in Guidance on development of a site clearance capability in England and Wales.

Funding: Wales

No differences for Wales.

Funding: Scotland


Funding: Northern Ireland

District councils in Northern Ireland are able to apply for funding from the Department of the Environment in certain circumstances - Schemes of emergency financial assistance to district councils

Case studies (incidents and exercises)

Manchester Bombing: 15 June 1996

Other useful documents

Contractors and expertise

The following is not intended to be an exhaustive list, as the potential range of contractors and other sources of advice/expertise required in the event of an emergency requiring site clearance is very wide and ideally, should be considered during the process of developing plans for dealing with such emergencies.

A current list of National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC) members is available on their website (Bottom left of the page - Find a Member).

The Construction Plant Hire Association (CPA) also has a searchable database of contractors.

Dealing with insurance issues

Background and context

Insurance and insurance companies have a major role to play in dealing with and recovering from emergencies. Loss adjusters will be among the first on the ground following an event. Insurers and loss adjusters will seek to help their customers get back on their feet and help businesses get back up and running.

The following guidance sets out advice for organisations and individuals on the insurance issues that are likely to arise following an emergency. This advice and guidance has been developed over a long period and with the experience of a number of emergencies. It has been prepared with the assistance of the ABI.

The insurance industry has a great deal of experience in dealing with emergencies. Insurers are committed to dealing with claims quickly and effectively. However, if an event is on a very large scale and over a large geographical area, the resources available to the insurance industry are likely to be tested. In these circumstances, it is important that individual insurers, and the insurance industry as a whole, communicate effectively with their customers. The ABI takes a leading role in dealing with the media immediately after an event and local responders should contact the ABI to discuss any emerging issues around insurance at the earliest opportunity.

Insurance coverage

  • 93% of all homeowners have home buildings insurance in place, although this falls to 85% of the poorest 10% of households owning their own home. This insurance is a standard condition of a mortgage
  • 75% of all households have home contents insurance in place
  • Half of the poorest 10% of households do not have home contents insurance

Many local authorities and Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) offer low cost home contents insurance via ‘insurance with rent’ schemes to their tenants. Similar affordable cover is available via credit unions, trades unions and certain charities such as Help the Aged and Age Concern. Despite this, some homeowners may either not be insured, or may be underinsured. The ABI provides guidance for customers on underinsurance on contents insurance.

The ABI provides guidance for housing officers on helping tenants protect their possessions.

The ABI also provides specific guidance on insurance to businesses.

Summer floods 2012

Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) should be aware of the insurance industry’s request to be involved in relevant meetings and conference calls relating to flooding incidents.

Insurers have received a large number of flood and storm claims since the beginning of June and feedback from both insurers and loss adjustors is that, whereas the period has seen some serious flooding, so far these events are well within their capacity to deal with insurance claims.

In the past the insurance industry has worked with LRFs, particularly local Recovery Co-ordinating Groups (RCGs) and would like to do so again, for example being able to contribute to relevant conference calls and meetings to discuss any generic insurance issues.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has also produced a guide aimed at flooded customers.

UK policy and guidance

The Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority regulate the insurance industry. More information can be found at their website.

Protecting against the risks associated with everyday life is essential to everyone’s well-being and peace of mind. Insurance is a way of allowing people to minimize their individual financial damages by combining their potential for loss with that of others.

Although many types of insurance seem complicated, the basic principles are straightforward. Insurance companies assess the risk of any eventuality and the potential downside associated with it. Then, based on past experience and their own expertise, insurance companies calculate the ‘premium’ that a customer needs to pay to provide ‘cover’ against injury or loss. When the insured event happens, the company pays out the agreed level of ‘claim’.

The ABI has also produced a short document on the role undertaken by the insurance industry after a major event like a flood. The briefing is designed for all stakeholders in the recovery field. More information on insurance and its benefits can be found on the ABI website.

General guidance

The following notes summarise cover normally included in standard policies and are provided as a general source of advice to be drawn on by local authorities. However customers should ALWAYS check the details of their own policies since insurers operates in a highly competitive market and offers a range of products to suit different needs, from low cost policies to high service level policies. Some details will vary accordingly.

The actions to be taken immediately following an event are:

  • make sure people are safe first, treat injuries, evacuate unsafe areas
  • check the property is safe (dvise those affected to speak to their insurers or brokers, as soon as possible, giving as much information as they can)
  • unsafe structures should be stabilised/demolished, taking advice from the insurer on how best to handle this - they may have preferred contractors/suppliers who will undertake the work
  • properties should be secured against crime and weather as early as possible – homeowners should check whether their insurers will arrange this or whether they need to take action and claim back any costs

For households

If homeowners are unable to stay in severely damaged properties overnight, they should speak to their insurers as soon as possible about arranging alternative accommodation.

For businesses

Businesses should do as much as they can themselves to minimise business losses. They should remember that they can lose customers just because they assume something is worse than it is, but this type of trade loss is not covered by insurance.

Insurers expect to respond with loss adjustors on the ground within hours of an incident and will often attempt to make contact pro-actively with customers in affected postcodes if they have not heard anything within 24 hours. A complete list of ABI members is available on their website together with information on insurance coverage and what people should do when making a claim.

More information on buildings insurance can be found on the ABI website.

Guidance on specific events

Weather and earthquake damage

Homeowners and householders

Storm damage (which includes tornado) and damage caused by earthquakes are standard features of home buildings and home contents insurance. These covers may be bought under a single policy or separately. Tenants only need purchase home contents insurance.

Home buildings insurance covers:

  • immediate repairs to buildings to make them safe and secure
  • where necessary, demolition, site clearance and re-building
  • repair of building and replacement of fittings (eg bathroom suites, fitted kitchens) which have been damaged
  • alternative accommodation, up to a set proportion of the sum insured (check policy for details but typically 15-20% of total sum insured) while repairs are being undertaken if the level of damage is such that an individual cannot occupy the property

Home Contents insurance covers:

  • repair or replacement of furniture and possessions damaged by the weather event or earthquake
  • replacement of possessions stolen whilst the property was insecure provided that all reasonable steps were taken to secure the property at the earliest possible time
  • alternative accommodation, up to a set proportion of the sum insured (check policy for details but typically 15-20% of total sum insured) if the address on the policy cannot be occupied


Storm damage (which includes tornado) and damage caused by earthquake are standard features of Landlords insurance policies – any specific exclusions will have been notified to the policyholder as part of the policy documentation.

Landlord’s insurance typically covers:

  • immediate repairs to buildings to make them safe and secure
  • where necessary, demolition, site clearance and re-building
  • repair of building and replacement of fittings (eg bathroom suites, fitted kitchens) which have been damaged
  • repair or replacement of landlord’s furniture and contents damaged by the weather event or earthquake
  • [if option purchased] alternative accommodation, up to a set proportion of the sum insured (check policy for details but typically 15-20% of total sum insured) while repairs are being undertaken if the level of damage is such that a landlord and/or the tenant cannot occupy the property
  • [if option purchased] loss of rent during repairs if the property is unoccupiable, up to a similar amount


Storm damage (which includes tornado) and damage caused by earthquake are standard covers in business policies – any specific exclusions will have been notified to the policyholder as part of the policy documentation.

If a business has suffered storm damage or damage caused by earthquake, this will also trigger the business interruption cover where appropriate. Standard package policies for eg. SMEs will normally include business interruption. Tailored policies will include this where the customer has asked for cover.

If the business premises are not themselves damaged, but access to the business is denied by the authorities for eg, public safety reasons, some policies will also respond to cover loss of profits/business interruption. Businesses should check their policies to see if they have this cover in place.

Loss of trade solely due to people being put off coming to the area, or because they think it isn’t open to business, is not covered by business interruption, so let customers know you are open for business as soon as possible.


Key messages for people affected by a flood:

For those people living in a flood risk area, personal safety is the top priority. They should:

  • listen to local radio and Environment Agency Floodline bulletins (0845 988 1188) for up-to-date information on the flooding situation in their area, or alternatively register with the Environment Agency’s ‘Flood Warnings Direct’ early warnings system
  • collect personal belongings, including insurance and bank details, and essential telephone numbers together, and keep them in a waterproof bag
  • if safe to do so, move belongings from lower floors to higher levels
  • be prepared to turn off essential supplies – gas, electricity and water – at the mains
  • listen to the advice of the authorities and follow any instructions to leave a property

If people are affected by a flood, they should contact their insurers as soon as possible after their properties have been damaged. Most insurers have a 24-hour helpline. Claims staff will be able to give advice on the actions that need to be taken. In certain circumstances, claims staff may also be able to give the go-ahead for repair work to be commenced.

If people have to leave their houses during the flood and subsequent repair, alternative accommodation must be reasonable and in keeping with their normal lifestyles. They should always obtain their insurers’ approval before incurring any costs.

Once the flood waters have receded, the property should have mud removed, be cleaned and disinfected, and dried out. Where possible, people should seek professional advice as to how walls, furniture and carpets should be cleaned and dried out, before any work is undertaken.

It is a good idea for people to take photographs of the damage. Any carpets, furniture or other goods that have been removed from their homes should be retained until their insurers have agreed that they can be disposed of. If it is not possible to store or retain goods, every effort should be made to contact the insurers or their representatives (loss adjusters) to obtain their agreement to the disposal of goods.

The Environment Agency website provides further information on the Floodline bulletins and the steps that can be taken to prepare for flooding. See also the guidance on Preparing for a flood and getting help during and after.

Further information on insurance and flooding is available from the Association of British Insurers website.

The ABI have produced a leaflet for householders describing the support they can expect from insurers following a major flood.

The ABI statement of principles on the provision of flood insurance explains insurers’ commitment to continue to provide flood insurance cover to as many people as possible.

The British Damage Management Association (BDMA) provides guidance on flood recovery procedures, working with contractors and electrical supplies.


Key messages:

The Pool Re scheme was set up by the insurance industry in partnership with the UK Government, in 1993, and is designed to ensure that insurance cover can continue to be offered by insurers for damage caused by acts of terrorism to commercial property in Great Britain. Cover is provided, in return for an additional premium, as an optional add-on to commercial property insurance in mainland Great Britain through insurers participating in the Pool Re scheme.

The only exclusions applying to the terrorism cover are in respect of war and related risks and damage to computer systems caused by virus, hacking or similar acts. The cover does not exclude clean up costs following a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) incident.

Some commercial insurers have also altered the cover available within small and medium sized enterprises (SME) insurance packages, ensuring that any terrorism exclusions are more clearly spelled out.

Similar cover under the Pool Re scheme is also available to blocks of residential flats (as they are dealt with as commercial properties for terrorism cover purposes). Again, cover is optional and there is no statutory obligation to take it out – the broker needs to specifically ask for this extra cover. However there may be contractual obligations imposed by the landlord or lender and policyholders need to check their contract terms.

For the Pool Re scheme to operate, the HM Treasury needs to issue a certificate deeming the event an ‘act of terrorism’.

Nearly all Household policies include wide cover for damage caused by terrorist activity including fire, explosion and blast damage. However, contamination cover is excluded on virtually all policies (irrespective of whether or not it is caused by a terrorist incident), so CBRN clean up is not included – some policies explicitly state this as a specific terrorism exclusion. In such circumstances, local authorities would normally take the lead in arranging decontamination of private property.

Separate arrangements apply in Northern Ireland and in UK islands, eg. the Isle of Man and Channel Islands. Further guidance on insurance and terrorism can be found on the ABI website and the Pool Re website.

Guidance on specific types of insurance

Private medical insurance

In some circumstances responders may want more information about private medical insurance. Further information on private medical insurance cover is available on the ABI website.

Life insurance

Life Insurance and Pensions are products that protect income/lifestyle, and in some cases family members, in the event of premature death of the policyholder or even just once retirement age has been reached and the policyholder is no longer working. Further information on life insurance can be found on the ABI website.

Travel insurance

Some travel insurance policies contain exclusions for claims arising from a terrorist incident. Individuals should be aware of this and should check the policy details to ensure that the policy contains an appropriate level of cover for their individual needs.

The government is currently working with the insurance industry to raise consumer awareness around terrorism exclusions in travel insurance policies, and to identify whether industry guidance would be necessary to help improve the quality of disclosure to consumers. Following an announcement by the HM Treasury in June 2007, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) – now the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) – will now regulate the selling of all travel insurance. This followed a call for evidence, review and Treasury Select Committee report which had all looked at the level of information provided to consumers when purchasing policies. Further work looking at the need for exclusions to be written in plain English and the level of consumer awareness of exclusions continues.

At the same time, HM Treasury and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) are working with the ABI to ensure there is adequate provision of terrorism cover within travel insurance clauses.

Further information on what travel insurance covers is available on the ABI website.

Claims: if something goes wrong

The government has established a system of financial services regulation that works through the FCA, PRA, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). These are independent from the government although subject to the provisions of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, and more detailed rules made further to it.

Policy documents explain how to make a claim. If a customer is not satisfied that the claim has been handled correctly they should contact their insurer, who will explain how they will handle the complaint. If a customer is not satisfied with the insurer’s final response to a complaint, they can refer the case to the FOS. The service is free to consumers and their decisions bind the insurer, but do not affect the customer’s right to take legal action should they wish to do so.

The FCA and the PRA are responsible for the setting and enforcement of insurance: conduct of business rules, including requirements relating to insurers’ claims handling procedures.

The FSCS is the UK’s statutory fund of last resort for customers of authorised financial services firms, which means that the FSCS can pay compensation if an insurer is unable, or likely to be unable, to pay claims against it.

More information on the FSCS can be found on their website.

Roles and responsibilities: England

Local and regional

Insurance industry

Following an emergency, the insurance industry will provide the following:

  • facts and figures about who and what is covered by household and business insurance
  • specific guidance on the issues likely to arise after a flood or terrorist event
  • details of the protocol between the insurance industry, the police and other emergency responders on communication and co-operation after a major event (see below)
  • contact details of the organisations that represent the insurance industry

The protocol is in place between the Association of British Insurers (ABI), The Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA), aviation insurers’ representatives, Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB), the Local Government Association (LGA), the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). The protocol was introduced on 20 September 2007 and will be reviewed biennially in the light of experience.

The protocol sets out a framework for co-operation between the parties in the event of an emergency. It is not legally binding, but there is an expectation that parties to the protocol will abide by its provisions and co-operate to the fullest possible degree in ensuring it is operationalised.

Dealing with the uninsured

Although local authorities have discretionary powers to commit ‘expenditure’ in an emergency situation, section 138 of the Local Government Act 1972 and amended by section 156 Local Government and Housing Act 1989, this is not usually used to cover the costs of the uninsured, but rather to fund the response and to deal with welfare needs of those affected.

Lead government department

HM Treasury is responsible for the overarching framework for the regulation of financial services (including insurance) in the UK.

Devolved administrations

The generic insurance advice set out above applies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with the following exceptions:

  • The Pool Re terrorism insurance scheme does not apply in Northern Ireland, where a separate scheme exists through the Compensation Agency, an agency of the Northern Ireland Office.
  • The above protocol on the role of the insurance industry following a civil emergency only formally applies in England and Wales but it is the intention of several of the signatory organisations to apply it throughout the UK in due course. It remains the responsibility of the local responder to make contact with the Association of British Insurers.

Case Studies (Incidents and Exercises)

Other useful documents

The ABI has developed useful list of Frequently Asked Questions describing its role and the functions of the insurance industry more widely. Other related documents are also available on that page.

Damaged School Buildings

Background and context

The June and July 2007 floods showed that repairing damage to school buildings can be a significant part of recovery work by local authorities, who may also have to provide temporary facilities in order to continue fulfilling their statutory duty to provide education. This is particularly the case in the recovery phase from flooding, when buildings may require a long drying out period.

This topic covers damage to school buildings only. For dealing with the death of a pupil, please see the section on community engagement in National Recovery Guidance: humanitarian aspects.

Policy and guidance: England

Guidance on emergency planning was produced by the Department for Education. The DFE’s generic guidance is applicable to all types of schools, including special schools and boarding schools.

Policy and guidance: Wales

The Welsh Assembly Government has policy responsibility for education in Wales.

Policy and guidance: Scotland

The Scottish Government, in conjunction with Chief Fire Officers Association, has produced guidance on fire safety in schools. Section 4 of the guidance is concerned with planning for recovery from major fires.

Policy and guidance: Northern Ireland

Roles and responsibilities: England

Local and regional

The DFE has published statutory guidance on the roles and responsibilities of senior local authority staff and councillors who lead on a local authority’s delivery of education and social services functions for children.

Local authorities are responsible for continuing to provide education when a school building cannot be used, eg through providing temporary accommodation for the school, placing children in alternative schools, or by distance learning packages.

The CCA does not require a maintained-school governing body to have an emergency plan, though fire regulations require those managing school premises to have an emergency evacuation plan; so business continuity arrangements for maintained schools, as for independent schools, are a ‘should’, not a ‘must’.

Lead government department

The Department for Education is the lead government department for advice on recovery of schools, children services and youth groups from civil emergencies.

Other government involvement

There is no other central government involvement for issues around damaged school buildings.

Roles and responsibilities: Wales

The Welsh Assembly Government has policy responsibility for education in Wales.

Roles and responsibilities: Scotland

The Scottish Government School Estates Directorate has responsibility for overseeing Schools Estate matters.

Roles and responsibilities: Northern Ireland


Funding: England

Local authorities make provision for schools and education within their budgets. LA-maintained schools should fall under the local authority’s risk management arrangements risk management for health and safety, which would cover emergency planning and recovery, falls to the employer. In community and voluntary controlled schools, this is the local authority; in foundation and voluntary aided schools it is usually the governing body. Such risk management is a requirement of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. These should include risk management, risk prevention, risk retention and risk transfer (to an insurer).

Terrorism insurance can be purchased as an additional insurance premium through the ‘Pool Re’ scheme (see the section on dealing with insurance issues).

Case studies (incidents and exercises)

Yorkshire and the Humber Flooding, June 2007


For schools, the first point of contact should be the school’s local authority.


Background and context

Emergencies, such as the widespread flooding in June and July 2007, have highlighted the need for effective co-ordination and communication between local responders and transport providers to ensure effective recovery within the transport sector should the need arise.

Restoration of significantly damaged services can take a considerable period of time (weeks, months, or even years in some instances), and responders and transport providers need to work together to provide support to the affected communities. However, the restoration of transport services should been seen as an important step in the return to normality after an emergency. Critical to this is a joint understanding of how long services will take to restore, and in which order services will be restored.

Roles and responsibilities

British Transport Police

BTP is the specialist national police force responsible for policing the railways. In addition to policing national rail, the force also have responsibility for the London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, the Glasgow subway, Midland Metro and Croydon Tramlink. BTP also police Eurostar international services. The Chief Constable is responsible to the British Transport Policy Authority whose members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport.

Passenger Transport Executives (PTE)

A Passenger Transport Exeutive is designed to provide a single integrated public transport network. A PTE works with local authorities and Government to set strategies affecting rail, road, bus and othe public transport services within their area. Funding is provided from local council tax payers and national Government grants. There are currently PTEs in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Tyne & Wear, West Midlands and West Yorkshire.

Transport for London (TfL)

TfL is the strategic body, created under the 1999 Greater London Authority Act to operate, manage and co-ordinate London’s strategic transport assets. This covers the:

  • London Underground
  • Docklands Light Railway
  • London Buses
  • Victoria Coach Station
  • London River Services
  • Woolwich Free Ferry
  • Croydon Tramlink
  • Street management
  • London Overground (from November 2007).

Transport for London reports to the Mayor who sets London’s Transport policy and strategy (covering service provision, safety and security, fares). In addition to fare box revenue, funding is provide via London’s Council Tax payers, prudential borrowing (within agreed Treasury limits) and Transport Grant from Central Government (DfT).

In the event of any emergency, the relevant TFL business will take charge of the services to direct the response and recovery of its contracted operators and other contractors, using the Gold/Silver/Bronze protocols and will work closely with the Emergency Services and other London responders as described in London’s Command and Control protocols.

For larger scale emergencies, TfL corporate will co-ordinate the response across its various businesses and attend with representatives from these businesses any Strategic Co-ordination Centre (SCC) established by the Police. TfL (and its business) will link directly to the DFT’s Incident Response. TfL (and affected businesses) will be represented on any pan-London recovery management group.

Railways – Great Britain

Network Rail run, maintain and develop Britain’s tracks, signaling system, rail bridges, tunnels, level crossings, viaducts and 17 key stations. The remaining stations are managed by one of the licensed Train Operating Companies (TOCs). Under the Railway and Other Guidance Transport Systems (ROGS) regulations, there is a duty of co-operation between Network Rail and Train Operators.

Network Rail will assume command and control responsibilities for the network in the event of serious disruption. They (along with the affected TOCs) will make decisions on which trains to run and routes which can be served. Network Rail will appoint a Rail Incident Officer (RIO) for serious incidents, ie. derailments, collisions, fatalities, etc. Likewise, Train Operators will appoint a Train Operations Liaison Officer (TOLO). The TOLO is the lead person on-site for the TOC involved and will liaise with the emergency services and Network Rail. Network Rail (and the TOCs as necessary) will be represented at Strategic Co-ordinating Groups and Recovery Co-ordinating Groups as necessary. Network Rail would carry out any repairs to the infrastructure following an emergency.

The independent safety regulator for the railway is the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). Inspection and enforcement of rail safety legislation is carried out by Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate (HMRI), which became part of the ORR on 1 April 2006.

Rail Accident Investigation Branch

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) is the independent railway accident investigation organisation for the UK. The purpose of an RAIB investigation is to improve the safety of railways, and to prevent further accidents from occurring. The RAIB achieves this by identifying the causes of accidents and other aspects that made the outcome worse. The RAIB does not apportion blame or liability nor enforce law or carry out prosecutions.

Rail Incident Care Teams

The TOCs have in place Rail Incident Care Teams (RICTs) who would be deployed following an emergency to provide emotional and practical support (including financial) to those directly affected. This includes survivors, their friends and families and those bereaved. Team members are all volunteers from the TOCs who have also been through a selection process to ensure their suitability for the role – in terms of motivation as well as psychological and practical suitability. All have also received (identical) specialist training designed to prepare and equip them for the role.

Channel Tunnel

Eurostar is the high-speed rail service directly linking the UK to France and Belgium via the Channel Tunnel. It started operating in 1994, providing city centre to city centre services. Eurostar launched services from its new London terminal, St Pancras International, on 14th November 2007 with the completion of the second section of the UK’s first high-speed line.

In view of the clear need for a coherent Anglo-French approach to the regulation of the tunnel, an Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) was formed to supervise, in the name and on behalf of the two Governments, all matters concerning the construction and operation of the tunnel.

The Strategic Road Network (England)

The strategic road network is managed, maintained and operated by the Highways Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Transport.

In the recovery phase, the Highways Agency is able to assist in a number of ways including:

  • strategic road infrastructure repair
  • supporting the Police and other emergency services
  • supporting emergency scenarios and emergencies in adjacent regions
  • provide real time information about traffic conditions
  • providing specialist technical support, advice and intelligence on infrastructure and traffic impacts
  • assisting with the ongoing recovery and removal of vehicles from the network

Local Roads (England)

Responsibility for the management and maintenance of local roads in England falls to the relevant local highways authority. This includes non-trunk A roads as well as B roads and C roads and a small number of short motorway standard A roads in major urban areas. A local highway authority is either a county council, a metropolitan council, a unitary authority, or Transport for London.

Maritime (UK)

Harbour masters have principal operational responsibility for the safety of navigation in a harbour.

Maritime pollution and salvage in UK waters is the responsibility of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and, in practice, is delegated to the Secretary of State’s Representative (SOSREP). SOSREP, on behalf of the Secretary of State, is able to oversee, control and, if necessary, intervene and exercise ‘ultimate command and control’ acting in the over-riding interest of the UK in salvage operations within UK waters where there is significant risk of pollution. The MCA is also responsible for the activities of HM Coastguard and for UK Search & Rescue.

Receiver of Wreck

The following is general background information only and is not a definitive list of the rights or responsibilities of salvors.

The main task of the Receiver of Wreck is to processes incoming reports of wreck, in the interest of both salvor and owner. The function of the Receiver of Wreck is carried out by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) which is an executive agency of the Department for Transport.

The relevant legislation covering this area includes:

  • Merchant Shipping Act 1995
  • Protection of Wrecks Act 1973
  • Protection of Military Remains Act 1986

Wreck is defined in section 255 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 as including ‘jetsam, flotsam, lagan and derelict found in or on the shores of the sea or any tidal water’:

  • jetsam: goods cast overboard in order to lighten a vessel which is in danger of being sunk, not withstanding that afterwards it perishes
  • flotsam: goods lost from a ship which has sunk or otherwise perished which are recoverable by reason of their remaining afloat
  • lagan: goods cast overboard from a ship which afterwards perishes, buoyed so as to render them recoverable
  • derelict: property, whether vessel or cargo, which has been abandoned and deserted at sea by those who were in charge of it without any hope of recovering it

Any wreck material found in UK territorial waters (to a 12 mile limit), or outside the UK and brought within UK territorial waters must by law be reported to the Receiver of Wreck.

Finders should assume that all recovered wreck has an owner. It may, for instance, be owned by an individual, a company, a dive club, an insurance company, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) or the Department for Transport (DfT). The owner has one year in which to come forward and prove title to the property and, during this time, the finder may be asked to hold the wreck on indemnity to the Receiver of Wreck.

A salvor has to be seen as providing a service to the owner which will benefit the owner financially; individuals should not simply pick up or remove items and assume they are acting as “salvors”. If an intending salvor is at all unsure about this they are advised to contact the appropriate authorities before commencing salvage operations. A salvor acting properly under the law is entitled to a salvage award.

On recovering wreck material, the finder should declare it promptly (where possible within 28 days) to the Receiver of Wreck giving a description of the wreck and will usually be asked to hold it to the Receiver’s order. Report of wreck and salvage forms are available directly from the Receiver of Wreck and from your local coastguard station. Forms can also be downloaded from the MCA website](

Once the form has been completed, it should be returned to the Receiver of Wreck office. Once a report has been received, the Receiver of Wreck will investigate ownership of the wreck items. If wreck material recovered from UK waters is unclaimed at the end of the statutory one year period, it generally becomes the property of the Crown, and the Receiver is required to dispose of it.

The receiver will investigate any report of possible offences regarding the treatment of wreck. If the investigation reveals sufficient evidence, the receiver may prosecute those suspected of having committed an offence. The receiver shares information with other prosecuting authorities, for instance, when offences come to light in relation to the Theft Act 1968 or the Firearms Act 1968.

Marine Accident Investigation Branch

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch, part of the DFT, examines and investigates all types of marine accidents to, or on board, UK ships worldwide and other ships in UK territorial waters.

Aviation (UK)

The DFT is able to establish Emergency Restrictions of Flying (Air Exclusion Zones) during the response and recovery phase of an emergency if these can be justified. There are well established procedures for seeking such restrictions, and these processes are known to all UK police forces and a small number of other authorised agencies.

Some UK airports have a dedicated care team that can provide practical support following an emergency to those directly affected, their friends and the families of those bereaved. Airport care teams may also be able to provide assistance in establishing airport reception arrangements for British Nationals returning back to the UK from emergencies overseas. A number of airlines also have care teams that are able to assist - together with other crisis support resources such as emergency telephone call centre capability, specialist equipment and air / ground transportation assets. Responders should liaise with their local airports and airlines operating to and from them to discuss what support may be available.

Air Accidents Investigation Branch

The investigation of civil aircraft accidents and serious emergencies in the UK is the responsibilty of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) which is part of DfT. As with the other investigation branches, the primary aim of the AAIB is to make safety recommendations where needed and not to apportion blame or liability.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch have produced a booklet Aircraft Accidents: guidance for the Police and Emergency Services to assist those personnel in better understanding the essential processes that need to be followed in the aftermath of an aircraft accident. Additionally, it details some of the hazards that may exist at aircraft accident sites.

Lead government department

The Department for Transport has the following lead government department responsibilities:

  • Pollution from vessels and offshore installations (via Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)) – UK
  • Control of Maritime Salvage Operations (via MCA) – UK
  • Accidental Release of Radiation from Civil Nuclear Material in Transit – GB
  • Civil Maritime Search & Rescue (via MCA) – UK
  • Severe Weather (where primary impact is on transport)
  • Aviation – UK
  • Rail – GB
  • Roads and ports – England
  • Transport accidents
  • Shipping and other accidents at sea (Marine Accident Investigation Branch) – UK
  • Aviation (Air Accident Investigation Branch) – UK
  • Rail (Rail Accident Investigation Branch) – UK
  • Disruption of supply chains (where primary effect is on the transport network) – GB

Devolved administrations

Wales: railways

On April 1st 2006, responsibility for the Wales and Borders Rail Franchise was passed from the Department for Transport in London to the Welsh Assembly Government in Cardiff. The Wales and Borders franchise is operated by Arriva Trains Wales.

As co-signatory to the Franchise with the Secretary of State, the Welsh Assembly Government, through Transport Wales, is responsible for the financial and performance management of passenger services covered by the agreement and any enhancements to it.

Network Rail is responsible for maintaining and operating the railway in steady state condition. The Assembly Government is working in partnership with Network Rail to fund enhancements to the railway infrastructure.

The Welsh Assembly Government’s Rail Unit was established in April 2006 to take forward new powers delegated to the Assembly Government following the Railways Act 2005.

Wales: the strategic road network

Transport Wales plays a similar role in Wales to the Highways Agency in England. It looks after 75 miles of motorway and over 1000 miles of trunk road in Wales. It is responsible for the production of statutory Orders and related statutory procedures required for improving and maintaining the trunk road and motorway network and stopping up of highways for local development.

Transport Wales is responsible for the programme for the improvement of the trunk road and motorway system and other selected transport projects with new construction and improvement schemes carried out through the employment of consulting engineers, agent authorities and contractors.

Scotland: the strategic road network

Transport Scotland is responsible for the management and maintenance of the trunk road network in Scotland.

The trunk road network is managed and maintained by private sector companies (Operating Companies) who are contracted by Transport Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Executive. They carry out day-to-day inspection, management, maintenance and repairs to the trunk road network under 5 to 7-year contracts. The Scottish trunk road network is separated into four areas: the North West, North East, South West and South East, each area is managed and maintained under a separate contract.

Northern Ireland: the strategic road network

Road Service Northern Ireland is responsible for the management and maintenance of the trunk road network in Northern Ireland.

Other government Iinvolvement

The Cabinet Office and Regional Resilience Teams may be involved for transport emergencies. Additionally, Defra may be involved if an emergency causes harm to the environment or involves radiation hazards.

Funding: England

Funding for Local Authorities to repair transport infrastructure after an emergency is covered in the financial impact on Local Authorities topic sheet.

Funding: Wales


Funding: Scotland


Funding: Northern Ireland


Case studies (incidents and exercises)

Other useful documents

List of contacts

Health and Safety Executive

  • Local responders can contact the HSE on: 0845 345 0055
  • Out of hours: 0151 922 9235 (duty officer)
  • Duty press officer: 0207 928 8382

Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA)


Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)

Emergency contacts for the energy and telecommunications sectors (dedicated numbers not available for use by the public) are held by the Regional Resilience Teams and Local Resilience Forums.

DFT can be contacted through the usual industry contacts or through the Regional Resilience Team who will be part of the Recovery Co-ordinating Group.

Cabinet Office

Energy Northern Ireland


Water and sewerage

Receiver of Wreck

Receiver of Wreck
Spring Place
105 Commercial Road
SO15 1EG

Tel: 02380 329 474 Fax: 02380 329 477 Email: Website:

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHRS)

Consumer Rights

Government Decontamination Service (GDS)

For decontamination advice for incidents involving CBRN and/or HAZMAT material, where the incident overwhelms local capability.

Association of British Insurers (ABI)

ABI is developing a list of contacts within its membership who can be contacted in the event of an emergency. In the first instance, the ABI should be contacted on 020 7600 3333.

Published 20 February 2013