'Lack of river maintenance' blamed for Welsh farmland floods

Hundreds of acres of farmland at Llanfrothen near Porthmadog is currently submerged
Hundreds of acres of farmland at Llanfrothen near Porthmadog is currently submerged

A 'lack of maintenance work' by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has again resulted in severe farmland flooding in Gwynedd, according to local farmers affected.

The flooding occurred as a result of the Afon Croesor overflowing once again to the nearby Internal Drainage District.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) said it had left 'some of the best agricultural land in the area' submerged.

The problem had been brought to the attention of NRW on 'several occasions', and site meetings were held with staff following flooding in July 2020.

At those meetings, local farmers showed NRW officers trees and overhanging branches which impeded the flow of the river, and where maintenance work was required.

FUW Meirionnydd County Executive Officer, Huw Jones said farmers and officials also discussed the 'clear need' to dredge parts of the river.

He said it was 'abundantly clear' that the capacity of the river Croesor had been significantly reduced due to the fact that it had not been dredged regularly.

"We gave a clear warning that doing nothing was not an option," Mr Jones explained.

"Flood banks in urgent need of repairs were also shown, with a request that a detailed inspection is carried out as soon as possible, with a view to making repairs as soon as possible."

According to the FUW, dredging would usually be done every few years, but this had not been done for decades, causing silt to build up on the river bed.

"We have excellent agricultural land in this area, and moreover, there is no doubt that substantial damage is done to habitat and biodiversity with continuous flooding,” Mr Jones said.

Glyn Griffiths, who farms nearby, and who chairs the local Dwyfor & Meirionnydd IDD Advisory Group, said farmers were 'promised' by NRW that works would be carried out.

"It is so disappointing that these promises were not kept, and the necessary works not carried out," he added.

"The Land Drainage Act 1991 and Water Framework Directives show clearly that NRW has a statutory responsibility as the Drainage Board to maintain and improve the drainage within the district.

“Areas near the Afon Dwyryd at Maentwrog have also suffered from flooding once again. A site meeting was held at the bridge near Maentwrog last August, where the silt that has built up over many years is clearly seen.”

Mr Griffiths said further meetings and investigations will now commence on whether NRW had 'breached their duty of care'.

"The whole issue must again be referred to Liz Saville Roberts MP, and we must make every effort to ensure that this does not happen again.”