Continued work by Janet Finch-Saunders MS, Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Energy, and Rural Affairs, on reducing the risk of flooding in the Conwy Valley has unearthed that Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is failing the Conwy Internal Drainage District.
Drainage districts are typically found in low-Iying land. NRW's primary role is to manage water levels and reduce flood risk through the management and maintenance of drainage channels, ordinary watercourses, pumping stations and control structures. The programme is agreed following consultation with the Drainage District Advisory Group.
However, NRW have disclosed to the Shadow Minister that the Conwy Valley Advisory Group has not met since 5 December 2019.
Responding to the Shadow Minister’s correspondence, an NRW official wrote:
“We met with the Conwy Valley IDD advisory group 19/4/18, 27/11/18 and 6/6/19, 5/12/19. We have not been able to meeting this year due to Covid restrictions. Topics discussed included the erosion to an embankment by Surf Snowdonia, 2 leaking chambers at Dolgarrog, willow trees at Dolgarrog, changing access route for ditch maintenance at Dolgarrog, tidal door not sealing properly at Whitebarn, the Afon Ddu de-silt, timing of weed cutting and the issue of Japanese Knotweed within the area”.
Commenting on the situation, the Shadow Minister stated:
“This is yet another serious flooding failure by NRW and Welsh Government. That they have not held an Advisory Group meeting for over a year is shocking.
“Last year Storm Ciara saw around 70 properties flooded in the Conwy Valley, businesses cease trading, livestock killed, and the railway line damaged again.
“The damage was devastating so it is scandalous that NRW have not arranged a meeting of the Conwy Valley IDD Advisory Group.
“To put it politely, using Covid as an excuse to try and justify lack of action is a load of rubbish. From the Welsh Parliament to family quizzes, so many of us have been able to participate in meetings virtually. Why NRW has not pursued this option is baffling.
“I genuinely believe that the team at NRW have good intentions, but are overwhelmed. In fact, it is estimated that up to 70 additional staff are needed to sustain the overall service at the levels described by the actions and improvements in the February 2020 Floods in Wales: Flood Incident Management Review report, but funding has only been received to employ 36 full time equivalents – only half what is needed”.
Flooding Public meeting in Llanrwst (prior to the first lockdown)