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Welsh Minister paves way for new approach to flood risk management in Wales

20 October 2020

Welsh Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs previews launch of new strategy at Wales’ National Flooding Conference.

Welsh Minister paves way for new approach to flood risk management in Wales

Update: In response to the Natural Resources Wales flooding review published 22 October 2020 Keith Jones, ICE Wales Cymru Director said: “Sadly, flooding still affects too many communities across Wales and adverse weather is set to increase due to climate change. ICE Wales Cymru will continue to work with Natural Resources Wales & the Welsh Government to address flooding adaption and resilience. It is so important that lessons are learned from the devastating floods earlier this year – the worst in Wales for 40 years.”

Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs said:

“This year we’ve witnessed the worst flooding in Wales for over 40 years. These devastating impacts I witnessed first-hand have emphasized the need to reinforce our approach to flood prevention, resilience and climate adaptation.

“On 20 October, we’ll be publishing our new National Strategy for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management – it is an ambitious strategy and re-affirms the importance we place on flood risk management.

It is a significant step up in our approach to flood and coastal erosion. The strategy will set out new objectives on prevention and preparedness and better communication on risk with far clearer roles and responsibilitie. The comprehensive measures within the strategy will encourage more natural flood management and focus on the growing risks associated with climate change.

I want the strategy to spark conversation about how we manage flood risk management. We are delivering more than ever in this space, but we cannot stop all flooding. By working together and having these difficult conversations, we can continue to manage and mitigate flood risk and prioritise our flood programmes.”

The Minister's comments came in her keynote address at the 18th Wales National Flooding Conference held virtually for the first time in its history.

The half day conference examined different ways of mitigating the increasingly prevalent risk of flooding, caused by extreme and unpredictable weather. The conference included presentations from leaders in the field of flood risk management including Natural Resources Wales’ Chief Executive, Clare Pillman, who reflected upon the magnitude of the challenges faced by flood risk management authorities and emergency responders as Wales felt the full force of Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge in February. Clare also used her keynote address to confirm that NRW will publish the outcome of its reviews into the organisation’s response to the February 2020 storms on 22 October 2020 stating:

“February’s exceptional events were a test for everyone involved in the response – including NRW. The speed and scale of the rainfall led to some of the most significant series of flooding incidents to hit Wales since the floods of December 1979.

“We will publish the findings of our reviews into our response to the February storms next week. But just as the flood events of 1979 were a watershed moment for flood risk management in Wales, we must now take the opportunity to learn lessons from February’s events to inform the debate on how we develop a more integrated, collaborative approach to flood risk management in the future – one that properly meets the challenges of our changing climate and protects and supports our communities.

In a full agenda, David Tarrant, Lead Specialist Advisor, NRW also explained the launch of Wales’ Flood Maps. The documents consist of three main maps: (National Flood Hazard and Risk Maps, Wales Flood Maps, a/ Flood Risk Assessment Wales (FRAW) Map, b/Flood Map for Planning.) which appear under an umbrella heading referred to in, and launched with, the new National Flood Strategy from Welsh Government.

Keith Jones, Director ICE Wales Cymru and Board Member of the Welsh Government Flood and Coastal Risk Programme said:

“As climate change increasingly takes centre stage and flooding becomes a regular occurrence across Wales and across the world it is imperative now, more than ever, to meet and discuss the way forward in our goal to protect our environments.

We are already in the forefront of flood protection in Wales with organisations getting together annually to examine ways of mitigating the increasing risk of flood damage at this now well-established conference. The Institution of Civil Engineers Wales Cymru welcomes the continuing investment and programme of works seeking to address the issues and looks forward to the implementation of the positive steps being taken by the authorities and all those involved in flood risk management.”

The Conference was organised jointly by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Wales Cymru and the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) and supported by Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales. Sponsored by leading companies in the sector : ARUP, Atkins, Smart Flood Management in partnership with Waterco, JBA Consulting, SNC.Lavalin and Black and Veatch.

  • Belinda Thomas, communications lead at ICE Wales Cymru