|Flood damage in Aberystwyth and Amroth|
Present and Future Flood Risks Explained
Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group was delighted to welcome two speakers from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to their recent meeting – as well as many visitors.
Richard Wicks started by explaining that NRW was formed by amalgamating three former organisations – the Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency Wales and the Forestry Commission Wales. They manage 7% of Wales land use, their core principle is Sustainable Development.
We think of the water cycle in a very simple way – water evaporates from the sea, condenses over land then returns to the sea. However it is a far more complex issue with surface water runoff, reservoirs, effluent, flooding and coastal erosion all playing their part. The floods of 2007 was a turning point and the Pitt Report made many recommendations to improve flood risk management. There are many aspects to understanding flood risk which includes the probability of a flood occurring, sea levels, tidal surge and climate change. The audience was shown examples of how to understand the probability of a flood occurring in any one year and the resulting consequences if a flood does occur.
The NRW Flood Map shows where properties and people in Wales are at risk of flooding. Anyone with internet access can view these maps or by contacting NRW direct. The maps are produced utilising data from Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) surveys, the river hydrology and hydraulic mathematical models. One of the maps showed the areas in Saundersfoot which are at flood risk from both fluvial (run off from the land) and the sea.
Richard showed details of the flooding which took place in Aberystwyth in 2012 following prolonged rainfall. NRW can predict the areas at risk of flooding and the way that land could be affected. They are also able to predict the depth and velocity of flood flows so that those at risk of flooding can be prepared and take action when necessary.
Phill Pickersgill then talked about the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP):
The consultation started in 2010 and is due to be signed off next summer. The whole of the Welsh, Scottish and English coastline is undergoing this process. The risks are set out for 1 to 20, 20 to 50 and 50 to 100 year epochs. These timescales would alter if sea levels rose more quickly or slowly than currently predicted.
The maps showed the intention to take 'no active intervention, hold the (existing defence) line, managed realignment and advance the line'. As far as Amroth is concerned short and medium term the aim will be to hold the line and then no active intervention. Saundersfoot is the same for the short and medium term but managed realignment would be the long term plan.
Questions were asked about property insurance. It was pointed out that NRW flooding information was used but some insurance companies use their own data. Often companies relied upon a blanket postcode search which did not reflect the geography of the area. It was also incumbent upon solicitors to check a properties flood risk for their clients.
When asked about new building on the Barbecue site in Saunderfoot the point was made that NRW should be consulted if the development land was shown to be at risk of flooding. NRW Flood Map shows there is a flood risk at the site.
Neil Sefton warmly thanked both Richard and Phill for their very enlightening presentation which had made all of us aware of the power and unpredictability of nature.
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