“Bold action” on flood risk is Wales’ only option NRW welcomes Welsh Government flood defence investment
Taking bold action in the approach to flood risk management is Wales’ only option, the Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) said today (17 March) as the environment body welcomed the Welsh Government’s financial commitment to strengthening the nation’s flood and coastal defences.
The Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths MS has outlined a range of projects that will be supported over the forthcoming year as part of its Flood and Coastal Risk Management Programme for 2021-22.
While this commitment will enable NRW to progress its plans to build and maintain flood defences across key at-risk areas, its Chief Executive Clare Pillman has also underlined the need for further urgent interventions and the embedding of a mix of flood risk management approaches to improve Wales’ resilience to the impacts of the climate emergency.
Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales said:
“Investing in and maintaining hard defences will always be at the heart of Wales’ approach to managing flood risk, and we welcome this commitment from the Welsh Government to improve defences and to support flood risk projects today.
“But while defences reduce the risk of flooding for thousands of homes across the country, they cannot protect everyone all the time. The growing frequency and ferocity of storms stimulated by climate change mean that there is no silver bullet, and we have limited time to take the steps needed to adapt to its future impacts. Our only option is to start taking bold action now.
“What we can do, and what we must do in the face of the climate and nature emergencies, is to consider a range of options to manage flood risk. For example, to look at how we better work with land owners and decision makers to make space for and control the huge quantities of water we are seeing during floods. This includes looking upstream for new ways to slow the flow and to store water. We also need to ensure people know the steps they can take themselves to reduce the impact of flooding when the waters start to rise.
“Governments and society need to recognise the importance and urgency of taking a holistic approach to resilience and increase the nation’s level of preparedness to manage and compound the growing flood risks precipitated by the climate emergency.”
Across the whole of Wales, 73,000 properties already benefit from NRW’s flood defences.
Pending relevant permissions and approvals, the schemes earmarked to benefit from the flood programme 2021/22 include:
- Stephenson Street, Newport - construction work to improve tidal flood defences in the Liswerry area of Newport reducing the risk of flooding to 194 homes and 620 businesses
- Llyn Tegid, Bala, Gwynedd - commencing construction on reservoir safety works to the embankments and structures which surround Bala.
- Ammanford, Carmarthenshire - commencing construction work to improve local flood defences in Ammanford which will benefit 289 homes and 13 businesses.
- Cardigan, Ceredigion – progress scheme development for areas liable to tidal flooding in the town around the Strand and St Mary Street and develop design work ahead of potential future defence construction.
- Llanfair Talhaiarn, Conwy – completion of construction work on culvert improvements already undertaken in the village and community and consideration of other measures within the local catchment.
- Ely Bridge, Cardiff – construction of a tree catcher structure upstream of the Cowbridge Road bridge over the River Ely in Cardiff to help prevent debris accumulation on the bridge.
Funding will become available to help progress detailed appraisal work and flood risk project development work on the River Ritec in Tenby, in Llangefni on Anglesey, in Porthmadog, in Liswerry Pill in Newport, in Aberdulais and in Bangor on Dee.
The announcement will also allow NRW to continue its work in response to the extreme flooding experienced in Wales over recent years. This will include the progressing of detailed flood modelling work and project development in a number of locations across Wales to determine the possibility of further reducing flood risk – including communities in the South Wales Valleys impacted by the flooding caused by Storm Dennis.
NRW will also receive funding to progress a substantial improvement project on its Flood Warning and ICT systems and other related services. This will enact some of the actions outlined and the lessons learnt in the reviews of the February 2020 floods when NRW called for a seismic shift in how Wales responds to the climate emergency and manages its future flood risk.
The funding settlement will also enable NRW to deliver many smaller projects across Wales including maintenance work and the refurbishing and repairing of flood defence structures.