York & North Yorkshire

UK Floods: Soldiers learn to assemble new flood defences

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Media captionSoldiers learn how to put up new temporary flood barriers

Soldiers have taken part in a training exercise to learn how to assemble new temporary defences aimed at protecting communities from flooding.

Personnel from 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, based at Catterick Garrison, have completed scenarios run by the Environment Agency in Selby.

More than 1,000 UK troops have been put on 24-hour standby to help in the event of flooding this winter.

The government previously said it would spend £12.5m on new temporary defences.

The preparations follow a Ministry of Defence review of the handling of floods in late 2015 which caused blackouts and forced people from their homes in several regions.

Storm Desmond wreaked havoc across Northern Ireland, north Wales and southern Scotland, but north west and north east England were worst hit.

Image copyright PA
Image caption York was one of the worst-hit areas after Storm Desmond caused widespread flooding in 2015

December 2015 was the wettest month on record for the UK since records began with 16,000 properties affected in Cumbria, Northumberland, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Herefordshire.

A total of 25 miles (40km) of steel temporary barriers - five times as many as last year - and 250 high volume pumps will now be available for winter floods, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

An Environment Agency spokesman said the training day with the new equipment held in Riccall, was "one of the first" to take place with the army, with others planned around the UK.

Image caption Compared to 2015, five times as many steel barriers are now available

The department previously announced the equipment would be kept at "seven strategic locations" around the country, but did not specify where.

The Stobart Group has a one-year contract to transport the barriers around the country when required.

Frank De Planta, Environment Agency duty manager, said: "One kilometre (0.6 miles) of barrier, which is approximately 1.25m (4ft) high, can be erected in three hours by 15 people.

"I think that provides some assurance around what we can do when required."

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