Kent Community Risk Register
Severe weather encompasses events including heavy snow, high winds, extreme temperatures, and heavy rain. Theses events can cause significant disruption as well as very serious health impacts.
The nature of the UK as an island, and Kent as a coastal region, mean that the weather can be very changeable and difficult to forecast.
Storm and Gales
The planning for this risk is based upon a reasonable worst case scenario of storm force winds affecting the county for at least six hours. Historical records suggest a reasonable forecast of wind speeds in excess of 55 miles per hour with gusts over 85 miles per hour.
This has the potential to cause significant damage to buildings and infrastructure. This can often be accompanied by periods of extremely heavy rainfall, with surface water having the potential to cause flash flooding or dangerous driving conditions.
The risk is more prevalent in exposed areas, particularly coastal communities.
Low Temperatures and Heavy Snow
Planning for this risk is based upon the reasonable worst case scenario of snow falling and lying over most of the county for at least seven days, with most lowland areas experiencing cover in excess of 30 centimetres with daily mean temperatures below 3°C.
Such a scenario may result in 'excess deaths' and cold weather related illness and injury (predominantly in vulnerable groups such as older people and those with chronic health problems).
There is also likely to be substantial disruption to transport networks, schools and businesses.
This hazard would also be accompanied by icy conditions including the risk of road traffic collisions and hospital admissions due to slips, trips and falls.
A heatwave is an extended period of hot weather relative to the expected conditions of the area at that time of year.
The UK does not have a formal definition of what constitutes a heatwave, however the World Meteorological Organisation defines it as when the maximum temperature is more than five consecutive days exceeds the normal maximum average temperature by 5°C.
The event will typically be triggered from air coming from the Mediterranean and North Africa (with the potential including of Saharan Dust). The air will be very warm and humid with the threat of thunderstorms.
The high humidity makes conditions uncomfortable and prevents temperatures from lowering overnight. During these conditions pollution may also be trapped closed to the ground causing additional issues for those with respiratory conditions such as Asthma.
The extreme heat can cause secondary impacts such as damage to infrastructure through the melting of tarmac or buckling of rails, increased risks of heath-land fires, and additional pressure on the power network through higher demand for climate control systems.
Local fluvial flooding
This assessment considers a 'sub-regional' event in which flows create a danger to life. Infrastructure and economic recovery could take between 6 and 18 months. The depth and velocity of water flows can be variable dependent on location and weather. Mutual aid may be required from other counties depending on the scale of the event.
Major coastal and tidal flooding
This risk is based on the reasonable worst case scenario of a tidal flood affecting multiple counties along the East Coast. National resources would need to be share across counties. It is anticipated that there would be up to 4 days advanced warning of a potential event, with confidence in forecasts becoming greater closer to the event. Confirmation of anticipated flooding would be between 24-8 hours before the event occurring. Emergency services operations may be impacted if they are within the inundation zone and rescues would be required by specialist vehicles. Immediate evacuation may be required and infrastructure and utilities may suffer significant damage.
It is assumed that a significant proportion of those who are required to evacuate would choose to stay with friends and relatives. Planning assumptions suggest up to 142,000 people in Kent may need assistance with shelter for up to 5 days, with some of those requiring ongoing support for up to 12 months. Historically, East Coast flood events initiate in the north and work down the coast, with Kent being the last county affected. In historical events the Thames Estuary has also served to mitigate some of the impacts of the surges.
Toxic chemical release
This threat includes a fire or explosion at a site near to a populated area where either fuel, flammable liquids, or toxic liquids are stored in bulk. Toxic chemicals are stored in bulk form throughout the county and the larger facilities are covered by COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazards) Regulations, and therefore have bespoke plans in place. There are a large number of these sites in Kent, ranging from large scale storage to small scale. Incidents at these sites could have an impact on their local communities as well as disruption to the wider community. As part of the regulations the sites and Local Authority carry out planning and awareness raising in the areas that could potentially be affected. This risk also covers incidents occurring during the transit of chemicals (which is also covered by HSE guidance).
Radioactive substance release
There are no nuclear reactors bordering Kent within the risk range, however Kent does have two nuclear reactors at Dungeness, one of which is still generating and one of which is being decommissioned. There is a potential for hazardous releases at both sites, and as such both have emergency plans in place and close monitoring procedures. The type of reactor used at Dungeness means that there is no risk of nuclear explosion and therefore no risk to the public or animal life outside the boundary fence due to the conventional hazards associated with electricity generation.
The hazard that does exist is the risk of a release of radioactive products into the environment, albeit this risk is very low, and any release is unlikely to go beyond the boundary of the site. There are, however, plans in place should a larger release occur, with those in the risk area being regularly engaged with information and protective measures (such as potassium iodate tablets).
Major Maritime Pollution Incident
This risk assessment considers incidents occurring from ships at sea, at anchor, or alongside discharging any form of heavy oil, fuel or petroleum that will potentially have a significant impact on the aquatic ecosystem, marine life, coastline, agricultural produce, commerce, tourism, and potentially displacement of local communities (due to risk of explosion or fire from fumes). The effects of such a discharge could be long term. Depending on the nature of the environmental contamination there could be impacts on air, land water, animal welfare, agriculture, and waste management. There may be a need for extensive clear up operations on shore and at sea, and there may potentially be long term restrictions put in place, e.g. for fishing.
Major Pollution of Controlled Waters
The pollution of controlled waters, including surface and groundwater, is a significant threat to the numerous and extensive river systems and underground aquifers in Kent. The supply and demand of water is an important resource to the day to day activities of the county. All drinking eater in Kent is supplied from either a river or groundwater source and it is therefore important to safeguard these. The Kent Resilience Forum works together to maintain a high quality of protection to minimise and mitigate potential environmental damage from pollution incidents. The most likely source of such a pollution incident would be industrial or commercial accidents. In addition to its value as a resource the river networks support a rich and diverse ecology which would be impacted by any pollution.
Loss of Utilities
Constraint on the supply of fuel
This risk is based on a scenario where filling stations, depending on their locations, start to 'run dry' within a period of 24-48 hours. Panic buying would exacerbate the situation, and replenishment of sites could take between 3-10 days (depending on location). The situation would depend largely on whether drivers from other companies would be prepared to cross picket lines or protests, whether companies judged that they were able to maintain safe operations in the presence of picket lines or protests, and the extent of the supply of fuel from other sources. The impact of a restriction in fuel will have business continuity consequences for businesses and individuals. The UK has ample fuel within the system to manage normal demand levels during a disruption in supply, but 'panic buying' places an unusual pressure that would outstrip even normal supply levels.
Failure of water infrastructure
This assessment relates to a complete loss of water supplies. This would mean domestic, industrial, and agricultural premises would have no piped water and fire tenders would not be able to use fire hydrants within the affected area. Water companies have an obligation to provide domestic customers with at least 10 litres of drinking water per person per day until supply is restored. This is done by a variety of means such as water bowsers or bottled water. Priority is given to vulnerable customers and those with special needs. Water companies are also required to give priority to hospitals and schools and have due regard for livestock and essential food industries. It may not, however, be possible to maintain a full service at hospitals, schools, and other businesses. Water companies have well established plans in place to ensure that they can fulfill their obligations.
The reasonable worst case scenario considers a loss of water for up to 3 days over a wide area affecting up to 50,000 people, with schools, hospitals, businesses, and domestic residences affected. This would cause public health and sanitation issues.
Loss of telecommunications
This scenario involves a full loss of the telecommunications infrastructure with no notice. The disruption could have wide ranging impacts, such as disruption to traffic lights, ATM machines, retail systems, , e-mail and internet, and the ability to contact the emergency services. Mobile phones are also reliant on the landline phone infrastructure, so it is likely that this service would be disrupted as well. This could be caused by a variety of sources, such as fires in key infrastructure, flooding, or human error. The emergency services have plans in place to ensure that they can continue to communicate via a variety of means.
Failure of electricity network
This scenario involves a total failure of the national electricity transmission network lasting up to 5 days, with potential for some areas to remain without power for up to 14 days. Power stations require an amount of power to carry out the generation process. In the event of a full loss of power it would be necessary to manually restart many power stations using an external input of power. This is a well rehearsed process, however it would take some time to implement and restore full power generation to the UK. Demand for power is highest during the winter so this is considered within the assessment. Whilst this risk is technically feasible, it has never previously occurred and numerous control measures are in place to prevent it from happening. In this scenario and smaller scale disruptions, it may be necessary to implement 'rota disconnections' to ration the power that it available. In this case customers would have scheduled periods without power. Emergency services have arrangements in place to ensure they can continue to operate without power for extended periods of time.
Attacks on crowded places
Crowded places are regarded as locations or environments to which members of the public have access that could be potentially liable to terrorist attack by virtue of the crowd density. These include bars, pubs, nightclubs, restaurants, hotels, shopping centres, sports and entertainment stadia, cinemas, theatres, visitor attractions, major events, commercial centres, health establishments, education establishments, and places of worship. The UK has a variety of transport systems, including overground rail, underground rail, air, and maritime. This assessment covers 'conventional' means of attack. That is to say that it does not assess the risk from chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) elements. Conventional attacks may result in traumatic injuries such as burns, breaks, bleeding, etc. This assessment considers a scenario larger than any that has previously occurred within the UK, with multiple seats of attack. The incident would involve large numbers of fatalities, alongside high numbers of traumatic injuries requiring specialist care.
Major incident at a large scale event
This risk carries many of the same issues as the one above, but considers large scale events within those environments. As with the risk above the large numbers of people involved in an unfamiliar environment creates the potential for minor incidents to escalate. Most well organised events will be organised in consultation with the emergency services and local authority, giving organisers access to a wide range of safety expertise, however In some cases they will not, meaning that safety measures could be lacking. Many of these types of event take place outside, and so can easily be impacted by extreme weather conditions.