Fairbourne: ‘No’ to decommissioning

By Julie McNicholls Vale   |   Deputy news editor   |
Sunday 22nd May 2022 3:30 pm
@JulieCambrian
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Gwynedd Council says Fairbourne’s sea defences could be unsustainable by 2054

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ARTHOG Community Council has voted to reject plans to decommission Fairbourne.

The motion to reject the decommissioning of the village was unanimously passed at a meeting of the council on 4 May.

A council spokesperson said the motion was based on a report by Dr Hall, the Peer Review of that report and other supporting reports and documents.

“This evidence gives a good basis for requesting a review by Gwynedd Council of their decision to decommission Fairbourne,” a spokesperson for Arthog Community Council explained.

“Julie James MS sent a letter to local authorities dated 23 November, basically giving the authorities more time to review or complete their plans regarding flooding.

“Her letter also highlights that the Welsh Government appears to be working to “worst case scenario” regarding sea level rise. Dr Hall’s report shows that this level can be met by his plan.

“We have written to Julie James MS asking if she could continue on to Fairbourne on the same day that she is visiting the Dyfi Biosphere. To date we have not received a reply.

“We also have a meeting booked with the Welsh Government, hopefully to take place in Aberystwyth, on 14 June to meet the new incumbent replacing James Morris, together with Lowri Norrington-Davies and YGC in attendance.

“Arthog Community Council respectfully requests a thorough review and ultimately a reversal of the decision to decommission Fairbourne in 2054.”

But Gwynedd Council said it “does not have a formal plan to decommission Fairbourne”, adding it is important to make clear they do not fund any defences in Fairbourne and responsibility for maintaining sea and river defences rests with Natural Resources Wales.

“Since the adoption of the Shoreline Management Plan 2, Fairbourne: Moving Forward – a multi-agency project – has been established to address the complex issues the village is likely to face,” a council spokesperson said. “It works with the community to identify ways the village can be sustained and the flood and storm risks it faces managed.

“It includes Gwynedd Council, Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Government, Snowdonia National Park Authority, Arthog Community Council, Network Rail and Welsh Water.

“It is important to make clear that the council does not have a formal plan to decommission Fairbourne.

“The sad fact is that, based on current predictions, it is estimated that the defences could be unsustainable and unsafe for residents to remain in Fairbourne beyond 2054 and Natural Resources Wales will be assessing their defence assets in 2022, to update their asset management plans.

“We have a responsibility as public bodies to carefully consider all the available data and independent expert advice and to discuss the possible options with local people.

“Ignoring all the evidence of the increasing risks of severe flooding to the community would be irresponsible.

“As part of the Fairbourne: Moving Forward project, we fully appreciate that this is a very difficult situation for local residents and every effort has and will continue to be made to support the community through the process.

“The project has produced a framework document that outlines specific plans and workstreams that are being taken forward by various partners to address the various challenges the community will face.

“The multi-agency project board is also completing a Health Impact Analysis to support the development of a business case to the Welsh Government to respond to the health, wellbeing and welfare needs of the Fairbourne community.

“It is currently seeking to commission an external consultant / agency to undertake a Health Impact Assessment, with the aim of supporting the development of a high quality business case to the Welsh Government that will address the needs of the local population.

“Gwynedd Council has recently received correspondence from Arthog Community Council regarding this matter and we will be responding directly to them in the near future.”

The Welsh Government’s understanding is that the county council will decommission Fairbourne, but funding and support will not stop.

The spokesperson said: “Whilst decisions on funding arrangements for 30 years time will be a matter for future governments, Gwynedd Council’s decision to decommission sea defences at Fairbourne does not mean that all funding will stop in 2054.

“We will continue to support the Fairbourne community and will be meeting representatives of Arthog Community Council and Gwynedd Council in the near future.”

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