GCHQ SUFFERED DURING THE SUMMER FLOODS
Cheltenham-based spy agency GCHQ suffered "significant
disruption" as a result of last summer's floods, it was disclosed today.
The committee said that it would now be reviewing the
"business continuity" arrangements of all the agencies - MI5, MI6 and GCHQ -
in the light of events last summer.
The Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee - which oversees the
work of the intelligence agencies - said that the "unprecedented conditions"
in Gloucestershire, where GCHQ is based, had caused "severe problems" for
While GCHQ had been able to keep its most important operations going, the
committee said that the disruption could have been even more severe if the
flooding had become any worse.
"The summer floods in the Gloucestershire region caused significant
disruption to GCHQ and its staff," the committee said in its annual report.
"Despite some serious problems in unprecedented conditions, GCHQ was able to
maintain its most important operations and we commend management and staff
for the tenacity and dedication they demonstrated during such a difficult
"We are concerned that had the flooding continued for very much longer or
been more severe, GCHQ's operations could have been even more severely
"In the light of these events, the committee intends to undertake a review
of business continuity arrangements of all three agencies in the coming
GCHQ, which is based near Cheltenham, plays a key role in counter-terrorism
operations, supplying vital information from electronic intercepts to the
Security Service, MI5.
At the time officials sought to play down the disruption caused by the
Although GCHQ is powered by the Walham electricity sub-station - which came
within just two inches of flooding - officials said it would have been able
to carry on by using back-up generators.
In its response to the committee's report, the Government said GCHQ had
carried out a "lessons learned" exercise which would improve its ability to
respond to future crises.
The committee also highlighted the pressure that counter-terrorism work was
imposing on the agencies at the expense of other operations.
MI6 chief John Scarlett told the committee that it now accounted for 56% of
his agency's effort.
"We are concerned that aspects of key intelligence and security work are
suffering as a consequence of the focus on counter-terrorism priorities,"
the committee said.
"We believe consideration may need to be given to separate additional
funding to maintain the agencies' capabilities in these areas."