Flooding Review should also cover river maintenance, says NFU
Responding to the recent announcement by the Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, who has asked for a review of the damage to coastal flood defences and impact to coastal communities, Bernard Llewellyn, Rural Affairs Board Chairman, said, “While I welcome Alun Davies’ announcement following the recent storms, I ask that the Minister expands this review, to include the issue of flooding from inland waterways and considers river maintenance too.
“Farmers are a resilient bunch but the weather over the last 24 months has really tested us and it’s going to take a while for water-drenched land to recover from this recent exceptional weather. Llanbedr is an example of one of the areas severely affected by the storms and there is an urgent need for the breached sea defences in this and other areas of Wales to be repaired as soon as possible to prevent flooding at high tide again and a continual encroachment of saltwater onto productive farmland.
“When it comes to river maintenance we want to make it easier for farmers to carry out work themselves and receive funding to do that work. There is a need to relook at existing Internal Drainage Districts and how they work and possibly where there is local demand expanding them to cover new areas. Getting the necessary consents is not always easy for farmers and we would look to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to streamline the process.
“Without adequate funding being made available to maintain waterways, flooding problems will only increase. Maintenance is a key issue for farmers as regular periodic work maintains conveyance and capacity within the river system. This means floodwater can return to the river system quickly and reduces the extent and duration of any flooding. If water can’t return to the river system, flooding will extend over a greater area and last longer because the water has nowhere to go.
“The whole of the environment – both rural and urban – is affected by flooding and it is important that money is invested in all areas of flood defence. Many rural areas have been flooded by water that otherwise could have flooded nearby towns and cities. Increasing investment in larger capital schemes that protect urban areas in isolation is not a sustainable solution to tackling the problems of flooding. Adequate funding must be given to waterway maintenance as well to help reduce the threat of flooding to all areas.”
NFU Cymru has raised these issues directly with Natural Resources Wales and Dafydd Elis Thomas, Assembly Member of Dwyfor Meirionnydd and Chairman of the Environment and Sustainability Committee, who in turn has passed on the information to Natural Resources Wales Minister, Alun Davies.
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