THOUSANDS of homes throughout mid and north Wales are set to benefit from extra funding to guard against flooding as the Welsh Government announce its “largest ever flood programme”.
Climate Change Minister Julie James revealed the details of the programme last week, totalling more than £214m over three years.
Julie James said: “As the latest IPCC report shows, climate change is happening now and already impacting the lives and livelihoods of millions across the world.
“As well as reducing our emissions, we all need to work together to adapt to a changing climate in the years ahead.
“Just last month, three successive major storms swept across Wales impacting many communities – investment in protection has never been so important.
“I am therefore pleased to announce our largest ever flood programme totalling over £71 million next year and £214m over the next three years.
“This will be used to deliver major flood schemes, identify local needs and develop future projects. Our funding will also help improved forward planning – we look forward to working with Risk Management Authorities to accelerate delivery and support for the people of Wales.”
The Minister also confirmed an increase of £24 million in revenue funding over the next three years which for next year will increase Natural Resources Wales’ budget by £1.5m; increase the revenue local authorities can apply for up to £225,000 per authority; and extend the current Coastal Risk Management Programme by one final year.
The Minister said that next year’s funding alone will benefit more than 14,500 properties.
The Minister added: “Our ambitious National Strategy for Flooding and Coastal Erosion in Wales, published in 2020, and associated Programme for Government commitments confirm how we are stepping up to meet the challenge of climate change and safeguard our communities from its impacts.
“Alongside the Strategy, we have published the Wales Flood Map, National Asset Database and Flood Map for Planning, all of which have been designed to tackle climate impacts.
“The record levels of investment reflect the importance this Government places on flood risk management, as we improve our understanding of the challenges of climate change and work together to adapt and prepare.”
Designated Member Sian Gwenllian MS said: “Climate change means our communities are at increased risk of flooding.
“This funding will make an important difference – helping our efforts to protect homes and businesses across the country.
“In recent years, we have seen the real and often devastating impact floods can have on people’s lives, and over the next three years we are committed to investing more in flood management and mitigation.
“As well as reducing our emissions as a matter of urgency, we need adapt to a changing climate in the years ahead. This extra investment is the result of working together as we face up to the major challenges posed by the climate crisis.”
“There should be no doubt about the scale of action needed to adapt to the climate emergency”, the chief executive of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) said as the environment body welcomed the Welsh Government’s financial commitment to strengthening the nation’s flood and coastal defences.
Clare Pillman, chief executive of Natural Resources Wales said that with one in eight properties in Wales at risk of flooding – around 245,000 – “the commitment will enable NRW to progress its plans to build and maintain flood defences across key flood risk areas across the nation.”
She said that extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent and more severe in Wales in the future, and just four months on from COP26, where world leaders committed themselves to rapid action on climate change, the “scale of the task is deemed more urgent than ever.”
“Investing in and maintaining flood defences will always be at the heart of Wales’ approach to managing flood risk, and we welcome this commitment from the Welsh Government to improve defences and to support flood risk projects for the forthcoming year,” she said.
“The IPCC report published last month highlighted the need for the urgent delivery of effective adaptation measures, and how actions we take today will shape how people adapt and how nature responds to future shocks.
“This means putting our ambitions for a climate and nature recovery on equal footing and using all the levers at our disposal to manage flood risk.
“We need to embed of a mix of flood risk management approaches that includes both hard engineering and nature-based measures to improve Wales’ resilience to extreme weather. That means working both upstream to reduce the risk of flooding and working downstream to ensure that when flooding does occur communities suffer minimum damage and can recover quickly.
“The scientific evidence is undeniable - climate change is making it harder to hold weather-related shocks at arm’s length, and the IPCC’s report and COP26 commitments should leave nobody in any doubt about the scale of action needed right now to tackle the emergency.”
NRW said the funding will allow it to continue its substantial improvement project on its Flood Warning and ICT systems and other related services such as the flood forecasting and telemetry systems.
This will help progress some of the actions outlined and the lessons learnt in the reviews of the February 2020 floods when NRW called for a seismic shift in how Wales responds to the climate emergency and manages its future flood risk.
The funding settlement will also enable NRW to progress important mapping and modelling work to inform future potential flood schemes and coastal adaptation planning.
It will also support the delivery of many smaller projects across Wales including maintenance to the hydrometric work and the refurbishing and repairing of its network of flood defence structures.
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