FLOOD DEFENCES: Emyr Jones on the site of the breach at Llanbedr, near Harlech.The Farmers' Union of Wales is calling for farmland - as well as urban property - to be protected from flooding in its response to Natural Resources Wales' consultation paper "Planning our Future".
"We welcome NRW's commitment to build, maintain and operate flood defences but stress that it is not just the urban environment that needs to be protected but also rural areas and agricultural land so that food production is not threatened," said FUW president Emyr Jones.
"Given the impact of recent weather conditions on coastal and tidal river areas throughout Wales it is vital that these vulnerable areas are protected from the risks of flooding.
"Farming by its very nature is responsible for the management and protection of the landscape and the environment as well as the production of food for an ever-increasing population but there is no reference in the NRW's paper to this contribution.
"We believe that, as agriculture is the predominant land use in Wales, recognition needs to be given to the role of agriculture in the management of water and the implications of flooding to food production in addition to property and the protection of the environment," said Mr Jones after visiting flood damage at Llanbedr, near Harlech, following a 30-metre breach in a flood bank.
"I was shocked and horrified by the scale of the damage. Luckily, no lives were lost, which could quite easily have been the case," he said.
"I made a point of walking to the exact site of the damage to the bank, since I felt this was crucial to fully understand the position. Repairing the flood bank will undoubtedly be a huge logistical operation but it is imperative that the work is carried out as soon as possible.
"I am aware that there is to be a review of flood defences in Wales and trust that the needs of rural areas will be an inherent part of this.”
NRW intend to publish its final corporate plan in March this year.
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