Fairbourne Flood Risk Management – An overview


The Fairbourne Moving Forward Project Board, led by Gwynedd Council where Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is a member, in discussion with the community and other key partners, has set an intent to defend the village of Fairbourne in Gwynedd for a period of 40 years (from 2014).

As long as funding is available, NRW will continue to monitor and maintain its flood defence assets to protect the community of Fairbourne.

This time period will be reviewed taking into account information developed as part of the Fairbourne Moving Forward project.

Sian Williams, Head of Operations in North Wales for NRW said:

“We are committed to maintaining Fairbourne’s flood defence in the short and medium term to help reduce the risk of flooding. 

“But this work is not easy as we are working against nature to hold back the tide and the tide’s impact on the ground water table at Fairbourne. 

“We are grateful to the local community for their patience and co-operation.”

The Flood Risk Management Scheme

NRW’s £6.8million scheme protects over 400 properties in Fairbourne from potential tidal flooding from the Mawddach estuary. The scheme also defends Fairbourne from river flooding.

Completed in 2015, the scheme involved strengthening 1.8 miles of the tidal defences at Fairbourne and Arthog, and rebuilding the river Henddol and Morfa outfalls to provide better control of flood water.

A new flood channel was also created for the river Henddol to divert floodwater away from the village during high river flows.

We recognise that short periods of river water in parts of gardens can be worrying for some residents. However, the scheme is not designed to stop all flooding. During very high river flows, the river will come out of channel in places, using the floodplain and preventing the flooding of buildings and keep people safe.

A new area of developing saltmarsh was created at Morfa Friog, in line with the planning condition for the flood scheme. This area replaces natural tidal habitats that are prevented from developing over the coming years due to the construction of the scheme. 

Current and ongoing work

Friog Corner

The most recent focus has been Friog Corner where we have completed work to strengthen the rock armour.

Contractors for Natural Resources Wales (NRW) have installed 20,000 tonnes of rock armour to protect the village of Fairbourne at Friog corner. 

River Henddol

Part of our ongoing commitment includes maintaining the river Henddol. This mainly involves cutting weeds on an annual basis, which allows water to flow freely.

A new set of stop logs have been installed at the inlet to the Ffordd Corsen bypass channel, allowing NRW to adjust the balance of flows. This will alleviate pressure on the Ffordd Corsen channel and should help manage symptoms of water inundation such as wet lawns.

We have installed water level monitoring instruments on the Afon Henddol to improve our operational response to high river levels and to inform our longer term understanding of rainfall event impacts on the river.

Morfa Friog

Morfa Friog was a key aspect of progressing the Fairbourne Flood scheme. The intertidal saltmarsh habitat provides suitable mitigation measures for the loss of wildlife habitats in the future as a result of the flood scheme works – a condition of developing the scheme.

Morfa Friog began to develop into a saltmarsh habitat in November 2015 when a small breach in the embankment was made.

We acknowledge that, in its current form, the site is not appealing and that the Public Right of Way is impacted. However, we wish to reiterate that the habitat has to be given time to evolve and nature will adapt.

We are in the process of developing a more detailed monitoring plan for the site and will be able to give more, evidence based information about the site as the monitoring and evolution of the site progresses.

New signage will be installed at the site to better inform the community and those visiting the area about the development of the site and to help everyone understand the work and NRW’s approach.

Concerns raised regarding the sustainability of the Public Right Of Way at the site are currently being considered and we are working with Gwynedd Council and the local community in relation to this.

Being prepared for flooding

Fairbourne will always experience symptoms of flooding. Due to the flat terrain, low lying aspect and elevated water table, water can build up easily and quickly. Working together, our challenge is to limit the greater risk to the community and learn to adapt what we do and how we respond.

It is important that the community is prepared for flooding. NRW has been working closely with the Fairbourne Flood Warden Group to increase the number of residents registered to receive Flood Warning messages for tidal flooding. The Flood Warden Group has been visiting properties and owner-occupied caravans and chalets in Fairbourne to promote the Flood Warning Service, getting customers to register or to update their records.

Out of 452 properties and owner-occupied caravans and chalets located in either the Fairbourne Seafront or Fairbourne and Arthog Flood Warning Areas, 432 are registered to receive warnings. This means that 96 percent of the population of Fairbourne is better prepared for the possibility of tidal flooding in the future.

NRW will continue to work with the Fairbourne Flood Warden Group over the coming years to keep their Community Flood Plan up to date.

The Flood Warden Group has also developed its own website that residents can use to find out more information about what they can do before, during and after a flood.

The website also provides information about the Community Flood Plan and about the Flood Wardens themselves. The website address is www.fairbournecommunityfloodplan.cymru.

For further information about the Fairbourne Community Flood Plan, contact your designated Flood Warden.

Anyone concerned about flooding can check their flood risk and register for free flood warnings by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or by visiting www.naturalresources.wales/flooding.

Progress and keeping the community informed

We are committed to engaging with the community about our work in an open and meaningful way. The continued understanding and support of the community is very important to us as we work to defend Fairbourne in the short and medium term.

Information gathered and shared by the community can be an important source of evidence to help understand flood risk problems. Photos of wet areas and flood issues can make a valuable contribution in investigating such problems as we continue to monitor the area closely.

NRW will provide regular updates on its work. If you have any enquiries about NRW’s flood risk management activities in Fairbourne, please contact:


June 2019

Last updated