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Lessons must be learnt following Storm Arwen devastation, MP tells minister

December 6, 2021 5:37 PM

On the floor of the House of Commons this afternoon, South Lakes MP Tim Farron told ministers that lessons must be learnt when dealing with the aftermath of future extreme weather events, following Storm Arwen.

It comes as there are fresh concerns about more potential power cuts in Cumbria with Storm Barra set to hit the UK in the next 24 hours.

Speaking in Parliament today, Tim said: "Communities in Cumbria have had ten days that have been devastating, exhausting, even harrowing.

"I'm pretty sure that all of us would agree with the calls for a public inquiry to learn lessons.

"But with Storm Barra approaching those lessons need to be learnt literally overnight.

"The kind of lessons that will need to be learnt are about timeliness as much as anything.

"Why did it take five days for the Government to come to this House and address the issue?

"Why did it take until the middle of last week to deploy additional generators when this could've happened on the Saturday eight or nine days ago so that families were not without heat or light for so long?

"The relevance of the army is significant in boosting the capacity of the engineers but also in going door to door to reach vulnerable people who have no telecoms whatsoever and may have been elderly people with care needs in bed tucked up to try and stay safe.

"I want to say thank you, massively, to those communities and people within them who stepped up to this challenge and to the engineers who were out making things better overnight.

"But I wonder what he can say to my communities as to how the Government will act to make things better next time?"

In response, the Energy Minister Gregg Hands MP said: "Can I thank him for that. I don't think a public inquiry is the right course. The public inquiry would inevitably take a long time.

"Better would be to use the established and effective review mechanism that we've already got in place which I would invite him and indeed all Right Honourable and Honourable Members to participate in to give their views to.

"I would say that the mutual aid scheme was deployed as soon as it practically could be, actually partly in advance of the storm coming in so I think that has worked well.

"I think in terms of the role of the army, it's principally a matter for the local resilience forums to make assessments for what resources they have and what resources they need to then put in that call.

"But in my experience, particularly in Aberdeenshire on Friday that when the local resilience forum put in that call, the response was close to immediate."