Major report shows investment to reduce flood risk pays dividends

A report by Natural Resources Wales has found that £165 million was invested in flood and coastal protection schemes to protect people and property in Wales since November 2011.

This investment, the majority from Welsh Government as well as European funding, has directly reduced the risk of flooding for more than 6,500 homes and business.

The report also found that improvements in forecasting and warning systems means that more than 160 new areas in Wales now receive free flood warnings from Natural Resources Wales, giving them vital time to prepare themselves and their homes.

Steve Cook, Manager of Flood Risk Strategy, Natural Resources Wales, said:

“The flooding we have seen in recent years in communities like Ceredigion, St Asaph and Rhyl, and the impact it has on people’s lives, shows how important this work is.

“With climate change predicting that we are likely to see more extreme weather in the future, we are taking action now to make sure we can be more resilient to the increased risk of flooding.

“There is much more work still to be done, but it is encouraging to see so many people who have suffered in the past working together and taking steps to make themselves and their communities better prepared for flooding.”

Flooding has a devastating impact on those affected, causing on average £40,000 worth of damage to people’s homes, as well as the emotional distress of seeing their personal items destroyed.

Since November 2011, Wales has experienced destructive and extensive flooding with more than 1,000 homes and business hit in places like Ceredigion, St Asaph, Ruthin and Rhyl.

In total, floods caused an estimated £71 million of damage and there was also a significant impact to people and the economy with disruption to road and rail links.

However, the investment in flood defences along the Welsh coastline during the recent winter storms meant that 75,000 properties were protected from being hit by flooding.

The report also found that:

  • 624 community and business flood plans, developed with Natural Resources Wales staff, are now in place across Wales meaning that people know what to do if the worst was to happen
  • 600 properties now benefit from individual property protection, supplied by Natural Resources Wales, if a flood scheme is not viable in the area
  • The amount of homes at risk from flooding has reduced from 220,000 in 2009 to 208,000 due to improved modelling and mapping, as well as new flood schemes
  • Work by water companies, including Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water’s Rainscape project in Llanelli, are leading the way in terms of diverting water from the drainage system
  • 125 hectares of green spaces has been created or improved to act that uses nature to reduce flood risk for people, homes and businesses

John Griffiths, Minister for Natural Resources, Culture and Sport, said:

"Flooding can have a devastating impact on communities - causing many thousands of pounds worth of damage, and untold emotional distress.

“The Welsh Government, along with Natural Resources Wales and local authorities, is working hard to reduce flood risk for people across Wales.  I welcome the findings of this report which show that our sustained investment in flood risk management, our National Strategy and our proactive approach to flood and coastal risk management in Wales really is making a difference to those communities at risk.

“Managing flood risk remains a priority area for Welsh Government but it is not a problem we can tackle alone. Natural Resources Wales and our local authorities play a significant role in preparing our communities and protecting them from flooding and I thank them for all their ongoing contribution to this important work.”

The report, which is the first of its kind compiled under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, looks at all the work of those tasked to reduce the risk of flooding for people, where they live and where they work.

These include all 22 local authorities, internal drainage boards, and water companies in Wales, as well as work by Natural Resources Wales itself.

The report can be found on the Natural Resources Wales website.

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