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Emergency Planning

Emergencies happen. In the last few years,Wales has experienced severe winter weather, flooding, travel disruption, fuel shortages, animal diseases, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government has put in place statutory legislation to assist us in meeting the challenge of dealing with such emergencies. 


Following the fuel crisis and the severe flooding in the autumn and winter of 2000 and the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in 2001, the Government announced a review of emergency planning arrangements. The review included a public consultation exercise which reinforced the Government’s conclusion that existing legislation no longer provided an adequate framework for modern civil protection efforts and that new legislation was needed.

This led to the Civil Contingencies Bill being introduced to Parliament on 7 January 2004. The Bill received Royal Assent on 18 November 2004 and henceforth became known as the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (the “Act”).

Overview of the Act

The Act is separated into two substantive parts:

  • Part 1: focuses on local arrangements for civil protection, establishing a statutory framework of roles and responsibilities for local responders.
  • Part 2: focuses on emergency powers, establishing a modern framework for the use of special legislative measures that might be necessary to deal with the effects of the most serious emergencies.

Key to modernising existing legislation is updating the definition of what constitutes an “emergency”.

Definition of Emergency

The definition of emergency in the Act focuses on the consequences of emergencies. It defines an emergency as:

  • an event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare;
  • an event or situation which threatens serious damage to the environment; or
  • war, or terrorism, which threatens serious damage to security.

As Local Authorities are included as “Category 1” Responders along with the Emergency Services, Health Bodies and Government Agencies, they have to comply with six “Duties” under the Act.

These are: 

  • 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;

Counter terrorism

We are proud to support Counter Terrorism Policing’s Action Counters Terrorism (ACT Campaign) to encourage the public to help the police tackle terrorism and save lives by reporting suspicious behaviour and activity.

With the enduring terrorist threat, it is now more important than ever that everyone – including council staff – plays their part in tackling terrorism. Our actions could save lives.

Like other criminals, terrorists need to plan. If you see or hear something unusual or suspicious trust your instincts and ACT by reporting it in confidence at gov.uk/ACT. If it’s an emergency call 999.

Watch the ACT film to learn more

Page updated: 16/02/2022 09:04:00