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Written Statement - Flooding in North Wales December 2015

Carl Sargeant, Minister for Natural Resources

I would like to express my gratitude to all those involved in preventative, rescue and recovery work associated with the recent flooding across North and Mid Wales. This includes community volunteers, emergency services, Natural Resources Wales, Trunk Road Agencies and local authority staff who have worked tirelessly since Boxing Day.

My thoughts are with those who have seen their homes and businesses affected over what should be a festive period. Impacts have been widespread including the communities of Bontnewydd, Llanrwst, Llanberis, Tal-y-Bont and Beaumaris. There has also been significant road and rail disruption.

A number of locations on the Conwy Valley line were affected and Llandudno Junction to Blaenau Ffestiniog is expected to remain closed until at least Monday, with rail replacement bus services operating on the route. Rail infrastructure in Wales is the responsibility of the UK Government and Network Rail.

Several trunk roads in North and Mid Wales were closed on Boxing Day, including the A55 which was particularly badly affected between Llandygai and Llanfairfechan. Resources were deployed as soon as possible to monitor traveller safety, clear watercourses and remove debris once the floods had subsided. We are aware of the disruption this caused for road users and are working closely with local authorities and other partners to find long-term solutions for some of the areas most prone to flooding.

I visited St Asaph and the ongoing pumping work along the Lower Dee yesterday to discuss the situation with Natural Resources Wales staff. I am pleased to hear that our river management schemes have performed well so far. Flooding has come mainly from surface water run-off brought about by an accumulation of intense rain on 25th, 26th and 27th December on top of already saturated ground.

This has been an exceptional period of rainfall but we must acknowledge that, with our changing climate, such weather events are happening more frequently. This is why flood and coastal risk management remains a key priority for this Government. We have committed almost £300m, including European funding, to managing flood risk and are committing an additional £150m to coastal risk from 2018. This has included significant investment in North Wales including schemes at Rhyl, Corwen, Dolgellau, Colwyn Bay and Beaumaris.

Following these latest incidents we will work with local authorities to see what additional action can be taken to speed up work to protect homes and motorists.

I am also making £1m of funding available for local authorities to carry out immediate repairs and maintenance to their river and drainage schemes where needed, with priority remaining on homes and properties. My officials will be writing to all local authorities with details in the next few days.

Further rain is due across Wales tomorrow bringing further risk of flooding from surface water and streams, Natural Resources Wales are continuing to monitor the situation.

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep Members informed.  Should Members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.