Environment secretary Owen Paterson has said that the UK is set to face further “exceptional weather”, with gale-force winds and heavy rain set to continue.
Following a meeting of Cobra, the government’s crisis response committee, Paterson said that emergency agencies and power companies were on high alerts and were “absolutely prepared” to deal with the weather and floods.
The Environment Agency is set to issue severe flood warning for coastal communities as strong winds combine with high tides and large waves from the early hours of January 3.
The flood risk will extend along the UK coastline from north-west England, through Wales and the south-west and southern England. The Isles of Scilly, the north and south coasts of Devon and Cornwall, Dorset and the coastline of Wales have been highlighted as being particularly vulnerable.
Pete Fox, head of strategy at the Environment Agency, said, “The Environment Agency is monitoring the situation closely, working alongside partners including the Met Office and local authorities. Environment Agency teams are out on the ground making sure that flood defences are in good working order, monitoring sea levels and preparing to issue flood alerts and warnings.”
Natural Resources Wales, the organisation that leads in flooding in Wales, is expected to issue warning to communities along the coastline of Wales.
Storms over the Christmas period led to flooding and travel disruptions, leaving thousands of homes without power on Christmas Day. Further weather warnings were issued for most parts of the UK on New Year’s Eve, sparking concerns in the worst affected areas.
UK Power Networks issued a statement saying customers left without power when the storms hits on Christmas Eve would receive payments as a “gesture of good will”. Rather than the standard £27 customers are paid when they are left without power for 48-60 hours, UK Power Networks will compensate customers with £75.
The recent heavy workload for the Environment Agency comes as the government prepares to shed 15% of jobs at the organisation. Campaign group Friends of the Earth labelled the cutbacks “shortsighted”, adding that considering the impacts of climate change must become a top priority.