19 January 2016
Article by Elfyn Henderson, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
On Wednesday, 20 January 2016, Assembly Members will debate flooding issues in Wales.
On 12 January 2016, the Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant, delivered an oral statement to the Assembly to update Members on what the Welsh Government is doing to manage flood and coastal risk. The statement followed flooding incidents in north Wales over the Christmas period.
The Minister announced a £3.3million funding package for local authorities, for schemes that ‘make a real difference to recovery, restoring resilience to flooded communities and reducing flood risk’. The schemes must be completed by the end of March 2016.
The funding package is made up of £1million announced by the Minister on 29 December 2015, and a further £2.3million announced by the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, on 4 January 2016. The £2.3million funding comes from a UK Government budget consequential.
You can watch the Minister’s statement on Senedd TV here: Update on Welsh Government action on Flooding in Wales, or read the Record of Proceedings.
In England, the UK Government has put in place a package of around £200million funding for areas affected by flooding caused by the winter storms. The package includes support for households, businesses, and charities, as well as funding for flood defence infrastructure. You can see the details of the package here: Winter 2015 to 2016 floods: government response
Coastal Risk Management Programme
In December 2014 the Minister and the Finance Minister, Jane Hutt, jointly announced the Welsh Government’s ‘intention to deliver £150 million of new investment in key coastal erosion and flood risk management schemes.’ The programme will become operational in 2018 and will be delivered in partnership with local authorities. The Welsh Government will contribute 75% towards project costs, with local authorities contributing 25%.
Policy and funding background
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.
It has invested some £245million in flood and coastal erosion risk management during the life of this Assembly. This funding has been accompanied by a further £47million of European funding.
The National Strategy for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management in Wales provides the national framework for flood and coastal erosion risk management.
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).
Coastal flooding review 2014
Following the severe coastal storms of December 2013 and January 2014 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: