Welsh Assembly looks at flood risk

Sensible planning and development rather than ever-bigger defences will be key to the strategy to reduce flood risk in Wales, according to the country's Environment Minister.

Speaking as floods caused chaos just across the border in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, Welsh Assembly Environment Minister Jane Davidson said it was vital to work with nature rather than trying to combat it.

"We have to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change," she said.

"One of those unavoidable impacts is increasing flood and coastal erosion risk and the events over the weekend have highlighted once again the need to adapt to those impacts.

"Recent events have highlighted what happens when flood defences are overtopped and the capacity of local drainage systems is exceeded.

"We can alleviate those risks by improving defences, but never eliminate them. We need to ensure our systems operate effectively when they need to and be prepared when those systems are beaten."

The Minister said there was a need for a new approach to managing risks, moving away from the current defence-dominated plans to one where the overall risk is addressed.

"This new approach must involve us working with nature rather than against it and as the greatest impact will be on people we must put people at the centre of our considerations and work more closely with the communities in which they live," she said.

"We must consider the use of measures not only to defend against flood and coastal erosion risk but also to manage the causes, to raise awareness, to provide emergency support and to enhance community and infrastructure resilience against those risks."

The Minister has agreed a three-year programme to refresh the Welsh Assembly Government's current policy, clarify future service and its delivery and consider future funding and monitoring mechanisms, which will replace the exisitng system in 2008.

Sam Bond



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