Report concludes St Asaph flood defence scheme protected homes

An in-depth report documenting the impacts of the flood events of February 2020 on the Afon Elwy has been published today by Natural Resources Wales (07 June 2021).

The Flood Investigation Report (FIR) has examined the conditions within the Afon Elwy catchment prior to the heavy rainfall experienced during February’s storms, the extent and magnitude of the rainfall event and the subsequent impacts of the rising water which led to the flooding of several residential and commercial properties.

Storm Ciara brought high winds and torrential rain during the wettest February on record, resulting in the highest ever recorded flow at the Pont Y Gwyddel gauge station, higher than those observed during the devastating 2012 flood event.

Considering these extreme levels, the findings from the report show that the NRW flood risk management scheme at St Asaph, completed in 2018, performed well and protected the vast majority of homes it was designed to protect. 

Without the scheme up to 370 properties would have been at risk of suffering serious flooding as they did in 2012.

The report also acknowledges that a number of residential properties, commercial premises and caravan parks did unfortunately flood. Many of these were outside the defended area for the St Asaph scheme.

NRW is committed to working with partner flood risk management authorities to learn lessons from the event,  to better understand the flood risk in the area with a view to further improving its flood risk procedures and its working practices to reduce the risk of flooding to St Asaph and Elwy Communities in future.

Operations Manager at Natural Resources Wales, Keith Ivens said:

“The report shows the NRW investment to improve the St Asaph flood scheme helped to protect hundreds of homes in the area, preventing a repeat of the widespread flooding experienced in 2012. The majority of embankments successfully stopped the river from overtopping and protected properties along the catchment.
“Having said that, this was a devastating event which significantly impacted many properties in St Asaph and Elwy. For those homes and businesses affected, this was a deeply personal tragedy, and our thoughts continue to be with those still recovering and rebuilding. 
“NRW will now take action to work with its professional partners and other Risk Management Authorities as well as local communities in order to better understand and manage future flood risk for communities in this area.” 

In October last year, NRW published its reviews of its response to the February 2020 floods. The insights and the data brought to light in the reports revealed the growing and real threat of the climate emergency, which is projected to cause wetter, stormier winters, more intense rainfall in summer and sea levels to rise at an ever-increasing pace.

They 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 climate change.

Keith Ivens continued: 

“Investing in and maintaining hard defences will always be at the heart of Wales’ approach to managing flood risk. 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 need to consider a range of options to manage flood risk.  
“For example, to look at how we better work with landowners 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.”

The Flood Investigation Report for St Asaph and Elwy Communities is available to view here: Flood Investigation Report St Asaph and Elwy Communities

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