The county council’s emergency planning team has been chosen to lead an international project to improve contingency plans to cope with mass evacuations.
The council has been given a £300,000 EU grant to co-ordinate a two-year project to provide emergency accommodation in the event of a mass evacuation, such as after severe flooding.
An East Coast Tidal Surge is considered one of the highest risks on the UK’s National Risk Register and is a high priority for Northamptonshire given the impact it would have on neighbouring counties.
The last significant event of this kind was in January 1953, when high tides, storm surge and large waves resulted in severe coastal flooding from Lincolnshire to Kent. Over 300 people died and 32,000 residents had to be evacuated.
This new project will create a contingency plan to provide shelter on a greenfield site for 10,000 people for a period of up to six weeks which can be operational within five days of such an event.
Cllr André González de Savage, county council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, economic growth and public protection, said: “It is a huge honour for Northamptonshire County Council to be taking the lead on this project, which addresses one of the top threats to national security currently faced by the UK.
“The East Coast Tidal Surge of 1953 resulted in hundreds of deaths, a mass evacuation and £50 million worth of damage.
“The potential effects of global warming mean we have to be prepared for further incidents of severe coastal flooding, and the council’s Emergency Planning team will be leading the project to create a contingency plan for such a disaster.
“Northamptonshire may not be directly affected by coastal flooding, but should the East Coast suffer from severe flooding, inland counties will have an important part to play in offering shelter to those needing to be evacuated.
“The success of our bid to lead the project shows that our expertise in emergency planning and resilience is being widely recognised.”
The project will run from January 2015 to December 2016 and will bring together more than 50 European experts through a series of workshops, the first of which will be hosted in Northamptonshire.
The county council will be supported by its project partners the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Cabinet Office Emergency Planning College, the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management in Ireland and the Federal Agency for Technical Relief in Germany.