Severe storms and recommendations
This comprehensive assessment was commissioned by the Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, following the coastal storms of December 2013 / January 2014. These storms were the most severe Wales has experienced for decades. Natural Resources Wales will make 47 recommendations to improve Wales’s resilience to coastal flooding in the future.
Assessing storm damage
A report released earlier this year, assessing the damage caused by the storms, showed that, along the vast majority of the Welsh coastline, defences and emergency responses were good.
Risks as a result of more extreme weather
However, this latest report has identified that the storms of December 2013 and early January 2014 seriously tested defences, as well as responses to the storms and the resilience of Wales’s coastal areas. Wales is particularly vulnerable to storms of this kind and climate change projections indicate that the risks will increase, due to more extreme weather in the future.
Focus on required work
In order to meet the challenges posed by this increased risk, the assessment focuses on the important work required to further improve Wales’s resilience to storms of this kind.
The recommendations in the report, compiled in conjunction with all of Wales’s coastal Local Authorities, are divided into six priority areas: investment, information, clarity of roles, assessing skills, community support and the development of local plans.
Repairing flood defences
Since the winter storms, Natural Resources Wales's workers have been repairing important flood defences at places such as Porthcawl, Amroth and Newgale. This work has included repairs to a 50m breach in defences at Llanbedr in north Wales. These repairs have been completed in the last few weeks.
Action in six areas
The report recommends action in six specific areas, as follows:
Sustained investment in coastal risk management
Investment in flood forecasting, warning, awareness, response and recovery; investment in new flood defences and in maintaining existing defences; calls for more long-term certainty with regard to budgets for flood risk management.
Improved information about coastal flood defence systems
More complete and consistent information about all defences; information about the condition of defences, the areas they protect and their maintenance. This is to include information about man-made and natural defences and about structures for which defence is a secondary function, eg promenades.
Greater clarity regarding the roles and responsibilities of agencies and authorities
More and better information for people and communities about who does what, in order to ensure more efficient and more effective delivery for communities.
Assessment of skills and capacity
To determine if and where gaps exist in risk management authorities such as Local Authorities, Natural Resources Wales, emergency response services and the like, in order to improve the management of coastal flood and erosion risks.
More support to help communities become more resilient
The report identifies a need for more ‘self-sufficient’ communities in the future; to enable communities to respond to flood warnings; and to enable communities to manage their flood risks in the future, with proper support from relevant agencies.
Delivery of locally-developed plans for coastal communities
Increased understanding of flood risks; enabling communities to better adapt to increasing risks as a result of climate change. These plans will be supported nationally and will exist alongside Shoreline Management Plans.