North Wales MS Mark Isherwood has highlighted in the Senedd Chamber the devastating impact of Storm Babet on homes in North Wales and questioned why preventative measures previously identified have not been addressed.
Speaking in yesterday’s Topical Question on the storm, which hit the country last Friday and caused widespread flooding, Mr Isherwood referred to a number of “avoidable failures” which resulted in homes being destroyed.
He quoted residents whose properties have been damaged and who want answers as to why their homes were not better protected.
“The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 is supposed to make public bodies listed in the Act, including local authorities and Natural Resources Wales, NRW, think more about the long-term, work better with people and communities and each other, look to prevent problems, and take a more joined-up approach.
“However, a resident of Leeswood, Flintshire, emailed, 'Although predicted, extreme rain conditions on 19th and 20th October caused flooding and distress to many, and damage to their property and livelihood. One feature that is ever present is the lack of maintenance to rainwater gullies, which are typically blocked with leaves and sediment. Although this has been reported to NRW, who are responsible for this watercourse, they failed to act in any capacity’.
“After I intervened on behalf of flooded residents in Broughton, Flintshire, in 2021, Flintshire County Council detailed the actions they would take, including that priority would be given to elderly and vulnerable residents and known flooding black spots. However, e-mails received last weekend after the same properties flooded again related, amongst others, to a single parent with Multiple Sclerosis, asking ‘why weren't measures taken to provide the residents in the at-risk homes with sandbags?’.
“And a final example: a Housing Association e-mailed after ground-floor flats in Mold, Flintshire, were again flooded, stating, 'We know that the drains are inadequate and have seen a scheme designed many years ago, which would provide a long-term solution’. This 2017 Feasibility Study, commissioned by Flintshire County Council, recommended that a copy of the report be submitted to the Welsh Government for confirmation that grant funding was available, but the scheme was never implemented.
“So, what is the point of the Future Generations Act if avoidable failures such as these are allowed to continue to devastate lives?”
Responding, the Minister for Climate Change, Julie James MS, said:
“We are looking into all of the issues that occurred throughout the flooding, which was widespread as a result of the storm. I will put forward a Written Statement once we know what the issues were. We will be investigating all of the issues around whether flood defences were inadequate or overwhelmed or not working, or where there are additional flood defences required, and we will be talking to the local authorities, in their risk management authority capacity, about the schemes they are bringing forward for flooding.“