Hampshire County Council Leader Roy Perry has met with energy and water companies this week to discuss ways to improve the county’s resilience against future extreme weather conditions, through joint working.
The meeting, on Monday, with representatives of Scottish and Southern Energy, Southern Water and Thames Water in Winchester came on the day that the Met Office and Newcastle University researchers warned that global warming would lead to a significant increase in extreme summer downpours in the UK.
Councillor Perry said: “The storms and flooding that occurred in Hampshire this winter tested all the agencies in Hampshire to the full. It was acknowledged that Hampshire was one of the worst hit areas in the country, suffering from storm damage caused by high winds, together with tidal surges, river and groundwater flooding.
“The meeting was one of many I’ve been attending recently, to assess how we can plan for future resilience and sudden, widespread weather disruption. When I met with Government’s Flood Envoy for Hampshire and Sussex, Greg Barker, he remarked on Hampshire’s response being characterised by very good partnership working, and that is something we want to build on further.
“Staff from the utility companies were among those who battled through horrific conditions, day and night, to keep Hampshire moving. We recognise that the utility companies have a very important role, alongside Hampshire County Council and other partner organisations, in ensuring that disruption to communities is minimised as much as possible in the event of future extreme weather conditions, and that we are doing all we can to help communities who may find themselves without utilities for any length of time. Partnerships such as these put us in good stead for the challenges we may face in the future.”
The partner organisations have agreed to continue to work closely together, sharing technical expertise and knowledge, for instance, on the relationship between groundwater levels in boreholes and flooding incidents, the location and resilience of critical infrastructure such as water or electricity sub stations, or access to aerial photographs and flood mapping. They plan to work together to seek innovative ways to resolve problems and help make Hampshire more resilient in the future.
Representatives of the utility companies will be invited to attend a future ‘Hampshire Partnership’ meeting, to discuss ideas for future working.
Meanwhile the County Council is awaiting news of the bids for financial support it has submitted to Government to pay for the costs of repairing the damage caused by the wettest winter since records began, and measures to improve resilience against flooding, which total more than £60million.