Managing flood and coastal erosion risk in Wales

2 October 2015

Article by Elfyn Henderson, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

This picture shows a wave crashing over a sea wall.

Image from Flickr by Ben Salter. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

The Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant, will make a statement in Plenary on the ‘Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Programme’ on Tuesday 6 October.

This post provides some information on the recent consultation held on the programme, and gives some background on the general approach taken to managing flood and coastal erosion risk in in Wales.

Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Programme

The Welsh Government consulted on its proposals to establish a new Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Programme between December 2014 and March 2015. The programme is also known as the ‘Flood and Coast Investment Programme’ or ‘FaCIP’.

The proposals centre on a new approach to allocating funding in a way that makes sure that it reaches the places at greatest risk. This would involve creating a national ‘Flood Risk Index’ to compare risk in different places.

The Flood Risk Index would consider the likelihood of an event happening and the consequences that would result if an event occurs; it would also consider the three main sources of flooding – sea, river and surface water.

The full proposals can be seen in the Flood and Coast Investment Programme (FaCIP) Consultation Document.

The Welsh Government says that its proposals were ‘generally well supported’ by the respondents to the consultation. Specifically on the Flood Risk Index, respondents made the following points:

  • Concern that an index combining sea, river and surface water flooding might skew investment towards coastal local authorities where there is a potential risk from all three sources, thereby disadvantaging inland local authorities.
  • Most respondents felt coastal erosion should be treated separately from flood risk. Combining these two types of risk could cause further bias towards coastal areas.
  • Data on existing defences should be included within the index to avoid investment being targeted towards areas already benefitting from defences.
  • The index should take account of local knowledge.
  • Some concerns that smaller-scale local schemes could be side-lined in favour of larger schemes of regional or national importance.
  • The criteria for assessing risk need to be explained and communicated clearly to the public.

See the Welsh Government’s Flood and Coast Investment Programme Consultation – summary of responses for more information.

Background

Policy and funding

The Welsh Government is responsible for developing flood and coastal erosion risk management policy for Wales and largely funds the flood and coastal activities carried out by ‘operating authorities’, which in Wales are principally Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and local authorities.

The National Strategy for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management in Wales provides the Welsh Government’s national framework for flood and coastal erosion risk management.

The Welsh Government has invested some £245 million in flood and coastal erosion risk management during the life of this Assembly. In December 2014 it announced its intention to invest a further £150 million in key schemes from 2018.

The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 requires NRW to report progress on implementing the strategy to the Minister. NRW’s report, Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management in Wales, 2011 – 2014, says that:

  • £165 million was invested in flood and coastal protection schemes in Wales between November 2011 and March 2014.
  • Despite this, flooding since November 2011 is estimated to have caused over £71 million of damage, impacting on communities, the economy, and transport infrastructure.
  • Progress has been made in a number of areas of managing flood and coastal erosion. This includes identifying flood risk, dealing with events when they occur, and raising community awareness about flooding issues.

You can find further background in the Research Service’s Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Research Note (PDF 185KB).

Winter storms 2013 – 2014

Flooding is a constant threat for many communities across Wales. The storms of December 2013 and January 2014 ravaged many parts of the Welsh coast and will live long in the memories of people living in the hardest hit communities.

Some 315 homes were flooded and an estimated £8.1 million worth of damage was done to flood and coastal defences.

However NRW estimates that in December 2013 and January 2014 respectively, around 24,000 and 50,000 properties that had the potential to flood did not, meaning that less than 1% of the properties potentially at risk actually experienced flooding. NRW says this was due to the many years of previous investment in, and maintenance of, the coastal defences.

Coastal flooding review 2014

Following the storms the then Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, asked NRW to undertake a major review of coastal defences.

The review consisted of two phases – the first assessed the impact of the flooding, and the second made a series of recommendations aimed at improving Wales’s resilience to coastal flooding.

The second report recommended action in six areas:

  • Sustained investment in coastal risk management.
  • Improved information about coastal flood defence systems.
  • Greater clarity regarding the roles and responsibilities of agencies and authorities.
  • Assessment of skills and capacity.
  • More support to help communities become more resilient.
  • Delivery of locally-developed plans for coastal communities.

You can see NRW’s full review reports here:

Wales Coastal Flooding Review Phase 1 Report

Wales Coastal Flooding Review Phase 2 Report

View this post in Welsh
Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg