One in six properties in Wales is at risk of flooding from rivers, the sea and surface water. Every local authority in Wales will now produce its own strategy, based on the national one.
The National Strategy sets four objectives for the management of flood and coastal erosion risk in Wales:
- Reducing the consequences for individuals, communities, businesses and the environment from flooding and coastal erosion
- Raising awareness of, and engaging people in the response to, flood and coastal erosion risk
- Providing an effective and sustained response to flood and coastal erosion events
- Prioritising investment in the most at risk communities.
To launch the National Strategy the Minister visited Borth, Ceredigion, where a coastal flood defence scheme to protect 422 homes and businesses is being built. The £12m project is expected to be completed in the new year.
The Minister said:
“The Welsh Government is committed to delivering on these objectives as part of its Programme for Government, undertaking to create sustainable places for people to live and work.
“Their implementation is the responsibility of everyone involved in or affected by flood and coastal erosion risk management, from the Welsh Government to the Welsh Risk Management Authorities and the people of Wales themselves. To support their implementation I will be making changes to the way we fund flood and coastal erosion risk management in Wales and we will consult on those changes in 2012.
“Whilst the launch of this National Strategy represents a significant milestone in our changing approach to flood and coastal erosion risk management in Wales, it is not the end.
“Projections suggest that as our climate changes we will see higher sea levels, increases in the intensity of rainfall and inevitably more frequent flooding. The consequences of that flooding will see greater risks to life, the economy and the environment. In addition to this rates of coastal erosion will increase, with more coastal communities facing the risks of loss of land, property and resources.
“While we cannot prevent all flooding or coastal erosion there are actions we can take to manage the risks and reduce the consequences. We need to adopt a more holistic risk management approach, where defence is combined with a range of other measures to help communities and the wider environment.
“The objectives set out within this National Strategy are intended to ensure that we develop a flood and coastal erosion risk management system that is fit for Wales and flexible enough to adapt to future changes.”
Chris Mills, Director Environment Agency Wales, said:
“We welcome this critically important strategy which will put flooding and coastal erosion at the heart of how communities and businesses prepare for the future.
“The biggest environmental challenge we face today, by far, is climate change. It is likely to cause more extreme weather conditions and sea level rise which will increase the threat of flooding for all of us.
“Of the 357,000 properties in Wales at risk of flooding, 234,000 of these are at risk of surface water flooding and many of these are also at risk from river or sea flooding. Surface water flooding is caused by drainage systems and culverts not being able to cope with the very heavy downpours which are becoming more and more frequent.
“What this strategy will do is use our expertise on flooding to do more to assist local authorities and the water companies in their work to tackle surface water flooding and reduce the risk of flooding for communities in Wales.”
Regular reviews of the changing nature of flood and coastal erosion risk in Wales will be undertaken over its life, and the National Strategy itself will be reviewed in 2016.