Communities at Risk of Flooding in South Wales Central

2. Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs – in the Senedd at on 15 May 2024.

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Photo of Heledd Fychan Heledd Fychan Plaid Cymru

(Translated)

7. How is the Welsh Government supporting communities at risk of flooding in South Wales Central? OQ61097

Photo of Huw Irranca-Davies Huw Irranca-Davies Labour 3:07, 15 May 2024

(Translated)

Thank you, Heledd. We will provide more than £75 million to flood risk management authorities across Wales this financial year. This includes £5,706 million to risk management authorities in South Wales Central, which will be used for improvement works to flood risk management infrastructure, benefiting approximately 5,706 properties.FootnoteLink

Photo of Heledd Fychan Heledd Fychan Plaid Cymru 3:08, 15 May 2024

(Translated)

Thank you very much. Clearly, some of that work emerged from the co-operation agreement.

Photo of Heledd Fychan Heledd Fychan Plaid Cymru

I'd like to ask you specifically, though, about the practical support for communities at risk of flooding. You'll be aware of the trauma felt by many for years after a serious flooding event, the trauma that they feel every time it rains heavily. The Welsh Government has funded some flood forum work, to develop flood action groups, but this is quite inconsistent across Wales. We don't have a national flood forum here in Wales. There is one in Scotland and one that operates in England, which sometimes is funded to work here in Wales. Do you think there is merit in exploring a Welsh flood forum specifically to support flood action groups? And how can we empower communities? Because I think some of the advice about raising your plug sockets and so on is all very well, but for people who have this continuous risk and may not be equipped to fill in forms or know how to form a committee, how can we provide that practical support so that they feel empowered when the worst may happen again?

Photo of Huw Irranca-Davies Huw Irranca-Davies Labour 3:09, 15 May 2024

We often look outside the boundaries of Wales, and we should sometimes, to look at what other areas are doing to see if it works, but there are different approaches as well that we can do, bespoke to Wales. A national flood forum isn't an approach we take currently in Wales. It wasn't considered as an option, as NRW are being funded to undertake this work, but actually, in my own communities, I've faced exactly the same challenge. We haven't had the sheer scale of devastation as some others, but we have had now properties that haven't been flooded for decades that have now been having street-level flash flooding incidents on a more regular basis. So, we've tried to work with them to say, 'We have the expertise out there', and actually we have brought in, then, the various agencies that we have in Wales to sit down with them, including local partners, the local authority, as well as NRW, to say, 'This is how we can actually establish your localised response to it.'

But we are putting funding into this. We fund Natural Resources Wales and local authorities to engage in flood awareness and resilience activities through the year. NRW have provided guidance as well on what to do before, during and after a flood on their website. We fund community groups and individual members of the public to work with advice and guidance. And, of course, NRW, with our support, work in close partnership with other organisations to provide support and to signpost groups to others who can help them. That includes, for example, Public Health Wales, Flood Re, the National Flood Forum, the Met Office and the Association of British Insurers. Indeed, this is what we did in our local context as well. There's also, of course, a flood warning service that we operate now from rivers in Wales that NRW operates, and there's more.

We'll always keep an open mind to how we can improve this, because what we do want are resilient communities who know what to do, who know, when they can, how they can play a part, both for themselves as individual householders or property owners, but also for their wider community. And when this works well, it works very well indeed. We always keep an open mind, but at the moment, what we want to roll out is that signposting, advice and best practice so that any community that needs it can have it.