A report compiled by Natural Resources Wales has found that an estimated £8.1m of damage was caused to coastal defences in Wales during the storms in December 2013 and January 2014.
This figure represents the damage caused to coastal defences owned and maintained by local authorities or by Natural Resources Wales. It does not include damages to privately owned structures, such as those owned by Network Rail.
The report was requested by the Welsh Government’s Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, following the severe storms earlier this year.
It pulled together information from every local authority along the Welsh coast, as well as other organisations responsible for coast management and farming unions.
The report focused on the damage caused by the storms that hit Wales on 5 December 2013 and between 3 and 6 January 2014. These caused some of the highest tides to hit the Welsh coastline in decades.
315 homes were directly flooded and a further 575 were affected, as people were unable to access properties surrounded by floodwater.
Damage to coastal defences and farmland
The storms damaged coastal defences at around 175 locations across Wales.
An area of around 360 hectares of farmland was also flooded, including 200ha around Llanbedr in north Wales.
Reducing the impact of storms
The report concludes that while the impacts on those directly affected were very serious and distressing, and the repair costs substantial, they could have been very much worse.
Substantial investment in coastal defences, improvements to flood forecasting and warning and improved working relationships between organisations and communities all helped to reduce the impacts of these storms.
Flood defences kept an estimated 74,000 homes safe, meaning that less than 1% of the properties that might have flooded were actually affected.
Defences also helped keep 34,000 hectares of farmland, almost half the size of Anglesey, from being swamped.
More frequent storms
Climate change projections indicate that we can expect to see more frequent and severe storms, as well as increases in sea levels, in the future.
Natural Resources Wales will now focus on the second part of the review. This second phase will look at what can be done differently in the future to improve Wales’s resilience to storms of this kind.