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Written Statement - Support to local authorities affected by coastal flooding

Alun Davies, Minister for Natural Resources and Food

On 9th January I made a statement in response to the coastal flooding earlier this month and asked Natural Resources Wales to coordinate a joint review across all Welsh coastal authorities. Whilst we await this review I would like to provide an update on the damage and how I plan to support those areas affected.

Once again I would like to reiterate my thanks to all those involved in the response to this event and to the ongoing recovery work.  The emergency services, local authorities and volunteers have worked hard to ensure that coastal areas and communities affected can return to normal as quickly as possible.  Particular thanks go to Natural Resources Wales in its work in both coastal flooding events, especially within its first year of operation.

I am determined to help those authorities who do face significant costs to repair essential flood defences. I have reviewed my Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management budgets and will be making £2 million available this financial year 2013/14 to support these emergency works to flood defence infrastructure.

I can also confirm that funding has already been allocated for Borth (£2m), Colwyn Bay (£5m) and West Rhyl (£2.1m) in this financial year to improve vital coastal defence schemes.

I am working with my Ministerial colleagues, particularly in respect of regeneration, local government and heritage to co-ordinate our whole government response and identify other potential sources of funding to ensure that communities such as Aberystwyth quickly recover and remain open for business.

My officials have contacted all affected authorities to obtain initial reports of damage to coastal defence infrastructure and other coastal assets, resulting from the coastal storm events in December 2013 and January 2014. Authorities were also asked to identify funding needs for immediate emergency works to restore coastal defences and other assets.

The initial picture appears to be that coastal defences around Wales performed well, protecting thousands of properties. There has been damage to structures but the majority are serviceable and most local authorities report that they do not anticipate a need for Welsh Government flood and coastal erosion grant funding support to restore the damage.  

Affected authorities have identified specific damage to coastal defences and infrastructure which include:

  • Denbighshire: Works are required to rebuild the secondary sea wall in Rhyl which failed during the December 2013 storm.
  • Conwy: Significant works to repair damage to flood defences and loss of beach sediment at Kinmel Bay, Llanddulas and Conwy Morfa as well as work to the harbourside at Deganwy
  • Gwynedd: Immediate repairs are required at Criccieth, Aberdyfi and Pwllheli flood defences.  In addition, a significant breach in the sea defence at Llanbedr, owned by Natural Resources Wales is in need of urgent repair as flooding continues in the area at each high tide.
  • Ceredigion: The main focus in Ceredigion is around Aberystwyth particularly in terms of the damage to sea defences and public realm including the historic sea front.
  • Pembrokeshire: Short term temporary work to reinstate a damaged road in Amroth is complete.  Longer term repairs to the sea wall will be required.

Current estimates for immediate emergency repairs to flood defence infrastructure from local authorities are close to £2 million. However, I await more comprehensive reports from Natural Resources Wales to inform further funding needs including medium to long term funding requirements.  In addition to the impacts to coastal defences, damage has been caused to historic buildings, transport links, public realm such as promenades and the Wales Coast Path.

Support packages are available for businesses affected by the recent floods and storms and we are working across Welsh Government departments to ensure that all relevant sectors are aware of support available.  Advice and support is available through the Business Wales website and helpline.

In addition to the above, I am continuing to explore a range of funding options both within and outside of the Welsh Government and discussions are ongoing with the UK Government and the European Commission. My officials have met with the European Commission and will continue to discuss both immediate and long term support for those communities which have suffered over the past two months.

We are going to have to continue to make these tough decisions into the future about how we defend our coast in light of rising sea levels and climate change.