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Flood and coastal erosion risk in Wales

Reporting to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, under Section 18 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010


Natural Resources Wales has a statutory duty under section 18 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, to produce a report for the Welsh Ministers about how flood risk and coastal erosion is being managed across Wales and about the activities underway to raise awareness and increase resilience of those who are at risk. Natural Resources Wales does this on behalf of all Risk Management Authorities who operate in Wales, which includes Natural Resources Wales, Local Authorities and Water and Sewerage Companies). 

Implementation of National FCERM Strategy

The report also provides an update on progress made towards implementing the Welsh Government’s National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Strategy. This sets out national level priorities, policies and objectives to help manage and reduce the impact of flood risk and coastal erosion both now and in the future.

The Strategy is currently being revised by the Welsh Government and is expected to be published in 2019. This will include a new set of objectives to be implemented by all of those involved in or affected by flood and coastal erosion risk management. 

Standard reference document

To date, Natural Resources Wales has published two reports, covering the periods 2011 -2014 and 2014-16. The third report, due for publication in Spring 2019 will cover the period April 2016 to Dec 2018. This slightly longer reporting period is intended to capture any outstanding objectives sitting under the current National FCERM Strategy.  

Each report has been produced from information provided by Risk Management Authorities and reflects the work they do, often in close partnership, to manage the risks to people and property from all sources of flooding and erosion of the coastline. It summarises the significant investment, key developments and operational improvements made to reduce flood risk and coastal erosion in Wales and to improve awareness and preparedness of those at risk. 

Major flood events

Since these reports have been produced the UK has experienced significant flood events, including along the north Wales coast due to the coastal winter storms of 2013/14. In 2015, Wales experienced the wettest December on record, with 1016mm of rainfall at Capel Curig, Conwy (source Met office). However, despite the large quantities of rain, widespread flooding in Wales has not experienced.  

Building resilience

Heavy rainfall and storm events demonstrate just how well the actions of risk management authorities, along with the national network of flood defences are working to protect communities and crucial infrastructure.

However, Wales’ defences and the responses of Risk Management Authorities and other organisations such as the emergency services, are likely to be severely tested during major flood events. Climate change is also likely to increase pressure on Wales’ ability to effectively manage flood risk and coastal erosion. Continued investment, along with new ways to manage risk is needed to ensure communities and infrastructure across Wales can retain its resilience to flooding and coastal erosion in the future.

RMAs are already investigating and planning future activities around these increasing pressures, including:

  • work more with nature rather than against it to reduce risk
  • working more collaboratively to share information, knowledge and resources
  • looking at a wider range of flood resilience, mitigation and awareness measures at the catchment scale to address flooding risks and consequences and to plan for coastal change

An overview of the way in which RMAs are planning for future flood and coastal erosion risk is reflected at the end of each report.

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