12 October 2023


Photo: Lewis Chatfield



Following a number of large scale emergencies, the government undertook a review of emergency planning in England and Wales. The outcome was the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, which provides a consistent and resilient approach to emergency planning, response and recovery in the UK.

The Act placed new duties and responsibilities on organisations and is divided in two parts:

Part 1: relates to local arrangements and places statutory duties on those organisations that have responsibilities to respond to major emergencies affecting communities.

Part 2: covers emergency powers that can be used by central government.

The Act divides responders to an emergency into two categories, depending on the extent of their involvement in civil protection work and places a set of duties on each.

Category 1 Responders

These are the organisations at the core of an emergency response:

  • Local authorities
  • Police (including British Transport Police)
  • Fire and Rescue Service
  • Welsh Ambulance Service Trust
  • Health Boards, Public Health Wales
  • Natural Resources Wales
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency

These ‘Category 1’ responders are subject to six duties:

  • Carry out a risk assessment and contribute to the development of a community risk register.
  • Plan for emergencies, including training and exercising. Ensure robust business continuity arrangements are in place to maintain service delivery.
  • Ensure arrangements are in place to warn & inform the public both before and during emergencies.
  • Co-operate with partner agencies to enhance coordination and efficiency.
  • Share information with partner agencies. In addition to these, local authorities have an additional statutory duty:
  • To promote business continuity to local businesses and the voluntary sector.

Category 2 responders

These are organisations which, although not ‘primary’ responders, could potentially have a significant role and be heavily involved in incidents that affect their sector. They are:

  • Utilities (water companies, gas and electricity distributors and telecommunications companies)
  • Transport (airport operators, railway operators, Network Rail, Highways Agency)
  • Harbour authorities
  • Health & Safety Executive

Category 2 responders have statutory duties to co-operate and share information with Category 1 responders in the planning and response to major emergencies. 


All major emergencies are dealt with by the Emergency Services, Local Authorities, Health Agencies, Utility Companies and Voluntary Agencies in a combined response.

There is no statutory responsibility for community groups such as town or parish councils to plan for, or respond to, emergencies in their locality. However it is good practice for communities to identify hazards and make simple plans on how they may assist the agencies should an emergency occur.

It is also to be recognised that Community Groups are not an emergency service. They will not be trained, equipped, empowered or resourced to carry out the functions of an emergency service.

The response should generally be confined to looking after the welfare of people in the community or helping to maintain the infrastructure.

There are numerous hazards and risks that can have an impact on a community, such as fire, severe weather, flooding, industrial accidents, transport accidents, flu pandemic etc.

A friendly, vibrant, forward-thinking village in the South East corner of the county of Powys. We are surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Brecon Beacons National Park. 
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