John Griffiths, Minister for Natural Resources, Culture and Sport
On 30 April, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) published the second part of their Coastal Flooding Review which contained 47 recommendations. The review has been widely welcomed by those involved and across political parties. The timeliness of the two reports has enabled the Welsh Government to act swiftly to support affected communities and inform our approach to safeguarding our coastal communities.
In a statement on 6 May 2014, the former Minister for Natural Resources and Food welcomed the priority areas identified within the report. Each recommendation has now been considered in detail with input from my Ministerial colleagues, the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport and the Finance Minister and I am able to accept all 47, 42 are accepted outright with the remaining 5 accepted in principle.
The first recommendation is for a delivery plan to identify how the recommendations will be progressed and to identify priorities, appropriate leads and necessary resources. Natural Resources Wales has been asked to lead on this work alongside Welsh Government Officials and Risk Management Authorities. In order to be a success, this needs to be a collaborative piece of work involving input from across government departments and within all flood and coastal risk management authorities.
A number of the recommendations emphasise the importance of ongoing investment in flood and coastal erosion risk management. We continue to work closely with NRW and local authorities to identify and fund schemes to build resilience against severe coastal flooding and reduce risk to people and places through a mix of natural resource management, traditional flood defence schemes and coastal adaptation.
I expect a full programme of schemes to be brought forward by Risk Management Authorities and my officials have recently requested additional proposals to be submitted to ensure that our communities remain resilient to all sources of flooding.
Over the next few months the Finance Minister and I will work with our delivery partners in local authorities to examine the case for an innovatively funded coastal flood defence programme. There will be further announcements about this scheme in the autumn.
The review highlighted the importance of clarifying flood and coastal responsibilities. The national network of coastal defences is complex and clarity is required relating to ownership and responsibilities to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of flood and coastal risk management activities.
The recommendations also include the need to work with our communities to improve public understanding of flood risk and to build resilience. This is a key part of our risk management approach to flooding. I expect NRW to be an exemplar for such information and the advice provided through the Flood Awareness Wales Programme is excellent.
Whilst the recommendations contained within the review focus on coastal flooding, we need to continue to be aware of issues associated with all sources of flood and many of the recommendations should be considered across other sources.
Sea level rise and climate change will mean that severe storms such as those witnessed this winter will become more frequent and have an increasing impact upon our coastline. Implementing the review recommendations will be vital in preparing for these challenges and build resilience around our coastline. The strong relationships built during the production of this review will help in progressing with the recommendations and enable us to become a more resilient nation in the face of such events.
The next step in this process will be the production of the delivery plan to take forward the recommendations contained within the review. I am pleased to hear that NRW are already working with Welsh Government and other Risk Management Authorities on this work and I will keep Ministers updated with progress.
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.