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Wiltshire based soldiers from 5th Battalion The Rifles and The King’s Royal Hussars undertook flood defence training provided by the Environment Agency today, Wednesday 29 November. The exercise, called WESSEX TEAL, was conducted to ensure that troops are fully conversant in the design and construction of the latest flood defence barriers.
Following the winter flooding last year, more than 1,200 UK troops across the country have been put on 24-hour standby to help in the event of a repeat this winter.
Three battalions will be held at a high state of readiness for three months at a time and can be called upon if needed to support communities across the UK. Tasks could include erecting the temporary flood barriers, providing engineering and logistics support, and assisting with the evacuation of affected communities.
Over the last year, personnel have taken part in training exercises to make sure they are prepared to reduce the impacts of floods across the UK.
As part of the Government’s drive for winter preparedness, the Ministry of Defence has also reviewed the way that the military supports authorities such as the Environment Agency, and made this process easier to make sure they can be mobilised more quickly to support partner agencies in case of emergencies.
Mike Penning MP, Minister for the Armed Forces said:
“Our Armed Forces are committed and professional and are ready should they be needed to support local authorities in responding to flooding and other adverse weather in our communities.
“We have three Army battalions, split across the country who have undertaken dedicated training to prepare them to help reduce the impacts of floods”.
Lieutenant Colonel Rod Small, Joint Regional Liaison Officer for the South West of England said:
“This has given the soldiers the opportunity to physically work with the equipment so that if they get called out in inclement weather, they will have the muscle memory to go straight into it. They have also learnt how to work in support of their Environment Agency partners and I am sure that both the 5 RIFLES and the King’s Royal Hussars will be ready for the challenge should it come.”
Robbie Williams, Wessex Operations Manager for the Environment Agency, said:
“As Storm Angus reminded us last week, floods happen quickly and can be devastating but we’re prepared to take action wherever it is needed this winter. We have 6,500 staff trained in incidents and 1,200 soldiers on standby to help us protect communities from flooding. Today’s exercise with the army has allowed us to test our temporary barriers so that we can respond even more quickly and efficiently when severe weather hits.
“It’s important that everybody is aware of their own flood risk. People can find out how to get ready and check their flood risk on GOV.uk at https://www.gov.uk/prepare-for-flooding or by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188.”