Civil emergencies

Civil emergencies

Here you will find information on how we deal with civil emergencies.

Civil emergencies

During emergencies, Northumberland County Council has a responsibility for the care and welfare of its residents, visitors and environment.

An integral part of our work is, therefore, to prepare and plan for emergencies and to help protect/support communities when emergencies occur. In order to do this, we identify, examine and record key risks and prepare appropriate emergency response plans, train our staff and test these arrangements.

The work is co-ordinated by the civil contingencies team based at fire and rescue service headquarters and is conducted in collaboration with multi-agency partners who share the council’s objectives in community protection.

To access national guidance on firearms and weapons attacks, click here. 
 

What is a civil emergency?

An emergency is defined within the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 as:

  • an event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare
  • an event or situation which threatens serious damage to the environment
  • war or terrorism which threatens serious damage to security
This definition is concerned with consequences, rather than cause or source therefore, an emergency inside or outside the UK is covered by this definition, provided it has consequences inside the UK.

To access national guidance on firearms and weapons attacks, click here. 
 

What are the county council’s legal responsibilities?
Under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, Northumberland County Council is classified as a 'category one' responder with responsibility for the care and welfare of its residents, visitors and environment during emergency situations.

As a 'category one' responder, Northumberland County Council must:
  • assess the risk of emergencies occurring and use this to inform contingency planning
  • put in place emergency plans
  • put in place business continuity management arrangements
  • put in place arrangements to make information available to the public about civil protection matters and maintain arrangements to warn, inform and advise the public in the event of an emergency
  • share information with other local responders to enhance co-ordination
  • co-operate with other local responders to enhance co-ordination and efficiency
  • provide advice and assistance to businesses and voluntary organisations about business continuity management (local authorities only)
What are category one and category two responders?
Under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, 'category one' responders are the organisations that will be at the core of the response to most emergencies and are subject to the full set of civil protection duties.

'Category two' responders are co-operating bodies and are less likely to be involved in core activities of a civil emergency response. However, they will be heavily involved in planning for and responding to incidents that affect their sector.
 

Northumbria Local Resilience Forum

Category one and two responders come together to form the Northumbria Local Resilience Forum, based in the Northumbria police area.

This helps the co-ordination and co-operation between responders on a local level.

Community risk register

The community risk register for the Northumbria Local Resilience Forum has been produced in collaboration with category one and two responding organisations across the Northumbria police force area.

Risk assessment is a key first step in planning and preparing for emergencies. The updated community risk register was published in November 2016.

Emergency community assistance plan

The aim of this plan is to provide Northumberland County Council and its partner organisations with an integrated response to emergencies within the county.

We produce the plan so we are prepared to mitigate and alleviate the effects of emergencies that may disrupt the normal provision of services, or which might threaten the safety of the community.

The plan has been developed in a format that takes account of advice contained in ‘emergency preparedness’ and ‘emergency response and recovery’ within the guidance of on the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.

What information is included within the emergency community assistance plan?
The plan details how the county council and other organisations respond to an emergency and includes:
  • an emergency management structure
  • responsibilities
  • emergency contact procedures
View the latest version of the Northumberland County Council emergency community assistance plan here.

Northumberland County Council provides humanitarian assistance during and after emergencies. Humanitarian assistance is the ability to provide a virtual ‘one stop shop’ for information in the aftermath of an emergency.

It should provide those affected, directly or indirectly, by the emergency with as much information and help as is possible in a convenient and accessible medium or location.
  • View the Northumberland County Council humanitarian assistance guidance here.
The following related documents are also available: More information is available on the Northumbria Local Resilience Forum.

Other civil emergency related hazards

Other general hazards and emergencies and responses.

Marine and Coastal pollution
Marine and coastal pollution is a hazard in Northumberland. The level of risk of an oil pollution incident ranges from “high” to “low”, based on how likely it is to occur and the potential impact on the environment, our economy, public health and social wellbeing. For more information visit the ‘risks’ section of the community risk register.
 
Nearly the entire intertidal zone of the Northumberland coast is included in sites of special scientific
interests (SSSIs) or other environmental protection designations.
 
We have contingency plans in place to protect these special areas from pollution, especially oil pollution. The plans include measures to limit the effects of pollution, including dispersing, containing and disposing of oil.
 
Further details about oil pollution contingency plans:
Hazardous substances and natural gas
Some businesses, which store or process hazardous substances, are required by law to inform people who live nearby of the risks associated with hazardous sites.
 
This requirement currently applies to the following site:
  • Campact Ltd, (within EGGER UK site), Anick Grange Road, Hexham, Northumberland, NE46 4JS.
If you live in the immediate vicinity of the above site you should have received an information card from the company. Make sure that you and everyone who lives in your property understand the information and advice, so you can take the appropriate action if an accident happens. If you have not received their information card, contact the company.
 

Natural gas pipeline system

The operator for the notified major accident hazard pipelines in this area is Northern Gas Networks (NGN). For more information and guidance on natural gas emergencies, click here.



 
Providing humanitarian assistance
Northumberland County Council provides humanitarian assistance during and after emergencies. Humanitarian assistance is the ability to provide a virtual ‘one stop shop’ for information in the aftermath of an emergency.

It should provide those affected, directly or indirectly, by the emergency with as much information and help as is possible in a convenient and accessible medium or location.
  • View the Northumberland County Council humanitarian assistance guidance here.
Dealing with emergencies

 Providing reception and rest centres

During an emergency in Northumberland, it will usually be Northumberland County Council’s responsibility to prepare for and establish reception or rest centres. Reception or rest centres will usually be established following a request from the police or another uniformed organisation.
 
The Northumberland County Council reception / rest centre guidance aims to provide those called upon to establish and manage a rest centre during an emergency with a structured and agreed process to ensure it is done effectively and efficiently.
 
Why might a reception or rest centre be needed?

A reception / rest centre or centres may be required for the safe evacuation and shelter of people or uninjured survivors affected by an emergency or anticipated emergency situation which threatens life, property or the environment.

 

Experience of previous emergency situations shows the care and support for evacuees and uninjured survivors prior to, during and / or after any emergency situation is important to the individuals and community’s recovery and welfare.

 
View the Northumberland County Council reception / rest centre guidance
 

Why is the reception/rest centre guidance publicly available?
Due to the geographic size of Northumberland, it may take time to get a full complement of rest centre personnel on site. By making the reception/rest centre guidance document publicly available, partner organisations and/or members of the public have the information they need to self-help and build community resilience until support becomes available.
 

Responsibility for reception and rest centres

Within the reception/rest centre guidance, Northumberland County Council acknowledges the reliance on the support of other agencies and the community / voluntary sector in delivering services to and in rest centres. However, Northumberland County Council can only accept responsibility for those centres which it specifically establishes and authorises in response to an emergency

 

 Recovery and restoration after an emergency
 
Northumberland County Council has developed recovery and restoration guidance to provide an effective framework to facilitate an integrated response by the county council, and its partner organisations, to mitigate and alleviate the effects of any emergency which disrupts the normal provision of services following an emergency.

 
Planning for recovery and restoration actually begins while the emergency is ongoing. This work has no fixed timeline and may go on for days, weeks, months or longer, depending on the impacts of the emergency and the needs of the communities affected.
 
View the recovery and restoration guidance here

 

How is the recovery and restoration plan used?

The county council’s recovery and restoration plan outlines basic principles for planning and implementing actions as part of the recovery and restoration phases of an emergency. The Plan can be implemented after any emergency, regardless of the size or location of the emergency. The actual level of recovery and restoration activity will be proportionate to the impacts and effects of the emergency and will take into account not only the physical damage which might occur but also:

 

 community recovery
 health and welfare
 business and economy
 environmental impacts

 infrastructure
 communications
 financial and legal

 

The recovery and restoration guidance has been developed in a format that takes account of advice contained in "emergency preparedness" and "emergency response and recovery" guidance within the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.

 

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Business Continuity
How can businesses prepare for an emergency?
 
Consider your business continuity management
Business continuity management (BCM) is a management process through which potential threats to
an organisation and its business operations are identified and controlled as far as is practicable. This
enables a business to develop plans to ensure that it can continue delivering key services during
emergencies and business interruptions. This in turn safeguards the interests of key stakeholders, and
the business’ reputation and brand.
 
Business continuity enables businesses to:
· identify the impacts of an operational disruption
· put arrangements and procedures in place to allow them to continue business during a
disruption
· maintain the ability to manage uninsurable risks
· encourage staff to have a better understanding of how the organisation operates
· have the ability to validate their arrangements and procedures through a testing and
exercising programme
 
How can business continuity benefit your organisation?
The benefits of an effective BCM programme are that the organisation:
· is able to proactively identify the impacts of an operational disruption
· has in place an effective response to disruptions which minimises the impact on the
organisation
· maintains an ability to manage uninsurable risks
· encourages cross team working
· is able to demonstrate a credible response through a process of exercising
· could enhance its reputation; and might gain a competitive advantage, conferred by the
demonstrated ability to maintain delivery
 
Prepare your business now - develop a business continuity programme
To make a success of your business continuity programme there are a series of steps to follow, as
identified by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI). Following these steps on an annual basis will
assist you in creating business continuity plans and arrangements that are valid, fit-for-purpose and
which will add value to your organisation.
1. Understand the organisation
2. Determine Business Continuity strategies
3. Develop and implement a Business Continuity response
4. Exercise, maintain and review Business Continuity arrangements
5. Embed Business Continuity into the culture of the organisation
Please see the business continuity leaflet for further information and guidance on how to implement
a business continuity programme and how to develop a business continuity plan.
 
Useful resources:
Business Continuity Leaflet
Business Continuity Survival Guide
Business Continuity for Dummies
Business Impact Analysis Template

Other websites:
Business Continuity Institute
Continuity Central
Gov.uk: Resilience in Society - infrastructure, communities and businesses
Gov.uk: Preparing your business for flooding
Farm Business Resilience
 

Flooding

The Environment Agency monitors rainfall, river levels and sea conditions 24 hours a day. This information is used to forecast the possibility of flooding.

If flooding is forecast, warnings are issued using a set of four easily recognisable codes:

  • Flood alert - flooding is possible so be prepared.
  • Flood warning - flooding is expected and immediate action is required. 
  • Severe flood warning - severe flooding is likely, which could cause danger to life.
  • All clear - an all clear will be issued when flood watches or warnings are no longer in force.
Northumberland flood action plan (NFAP)
Northumberland County Council has prepared the NFAP.which is designed to document the response to severe and/or widespread flooding within the Northumberland area.

It was developed using guidance created by NLRF and sits alongside similar plans developed by all councils within Northumbria, detailing all areas known to be at risk from flooding.

The plan also describes the Environment Agency’s flood warning system and how this will be used to trigger individual and multi-agency cooperation in response to flooding in specified areas.

General flood advice

If flooding is forecast, warnings are issued using a set of four easily recognisable codes:

  • Flood alert - flooding is possible so be prepared.
  • Flood warning - flooding is expected and immediate action is required. 
  • Severe flood warning - severe flooding is likely, which could cause danger to life.
  • All clear - an all clear will be issued when flood watches or warnings are no longer in force.
Northumberland flood action plan (NFAP)
Northumberland County Council has prepared the NFAP which is designed to document the response to severe and/or widespread flooding within the Northumberland area.

It was developed using guidance created by NLRF and sits alongside similar plans developed by all councils within Northumbria, detailing all areas known to be at risk from flooding.

The plan also describes the Environment Agency’s flood warning system and how this will be used to trigger individual and multi-agency cooperation in response to flooding in specified areas.

If your property suffers from flooding consider what future resilience you can build into your property and what support might be available - www.centre4resilience.org
Sandbags in emergency flooding
The County Council does not provide sandbags direct to any residents in the event of flooding.
 
Residents in known flood risk areas are encouraged to make their own arrangements for protecting their properties against threat of flood water ingress including buying sandbags if appropriate. 
 
However if residents feel that their property is in danger of water ingress and they do not have suitable protection then they should phone the emergency number on 0345 600 6400 with their details. 
 
The Council will arrange for the area to be inspected at the earliest opportunity. Upon inspection, if water ingress is imminent, then a decision will be made by the inspector to arrange for sandbags to be deployed. 
 
It is important to stress whilst every effort is made to ensure that water ingress is avoided we must also ensure that our resources are carefully utilised and only where immediate water ingress to properties is verified will sandbags be deployed.
 
The Environment Agency website also offers useful tips for home and business owners to protect their premises - www.environment-agency.gov.uk 
 
Sandbags are readily available at builders' merchants and there are lots of modern alternatives that are easier to store and expand.

For more information about different products please go to:
Flooding from reservoirs
In order to ensure reservoirs are properly maintained and to minimise the possibility of reservoir failure, large reservoirs in England and Wales are regulated under the Reservoirs Act 1975.

This is enforced by the Environment Agency and requires reservoirs to be routinely maintained to an appropriate standard. At present there are about 2,000 reservoirs in England and Wales covered by the Reservoirs Act.
  • Please click here to view more information regarding reservoir flooding. 
Further information about a current flooding situation
Further information about a current flooding situation can be found using the details below:
  • Visit the Environment Agency website
  • Call the Environment Agency floodline service on 0345 988 1188 - you can listen to recorded flood warning information or speak to an operator for general information and advice 24 hours a day.

Further information regarding civil emergencies

If you require any additional information regarding civil emergencies, please contact the civil contingencies team:

  • Write to us - Civil Contingencies Team, Northumberland County Council, Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters, West Hartford Business Park, Cramlington, Northumberland, NE23 3JP
  • Telephone - 0345 600 6400
  • Email eplan@northumberland.gov.uk