(Title Image: Rhondda Leader)
While there’ve been several questions and debates on the recent storms and flooding this week – and unlikely to be the last this year – yesterday afternoon, AMs put forward what they think needs to happen next.
However, with just 30 minutes available because of how Plaid Cymru tabled the debate (they have a habit of splitting their one hour slot into two half-hour sessions), many AMs made the point that the issue warranted more time.
The Motion (Final/Amended Version)
- Notes the damage and devastation caused across Wales as a result of Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis and pays tribute to the heroic efforts of the emergency services, public service workers and volunteers in responding to the adverse weather and storm damage.
- Recognises that climate change will make adverse weather occurrences, including instances of serious flooding, more likely in future.
- Calls on the Welsh Government to ensure investigations carried out into the cause of flooding are published and subject to scrutiny from affected communities, the Senedd and independent authorities; make additional financial and practical support available to individuals and businesses affected by the flooding as well as local authorities to conduct emergency repairs of flood defences, critical infrastructure and to accelerate the development of new flood defences; publish new planning policy, flood risk assessment and flood maps this year to take a stronger stance on flood plain development, the risks from climate change and use to prioritise flood defence schemes that protect the communities at highest risk of flooding from all sources.
- Further calls on the Welsh Government to ensure that local communities and businesses are provided with continuing support beyond the initial clean-up operation to help them recover in the long-term.
Natural Resources Wales “should acknowledge their mistakes”
Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda) believes that Natural Resources Wales should admit their mistakes and take responsibility for flooding in parts of the Rhondda caused by poor maintenance of culverts and tree-felling operations which left debris behind.
Shadow Environment Minister, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central), said many people face a long-haul outside their homes and it could take the best part of a year for some communities to fully recover. Building on floodplains had to be outlawed too. He rightly made a point about scum targeting flood victims with scams and the need to make people aware.
Availability of insurance was also a major issue:
“I’m glad that the Welsh Government has offered an extra £500 for households without contents insurance, but that is like a drop in stagnant floodwater. Let’s get this straight – the people without insurance hadn’t neglected to get cover, they were refused cover because of previous flooding, or told that the premiums were extortionate and unaffordable for them. So, what conversations is your Government having with their UK Government counterparts to bring pressure on the insurance industry to stop refusing cover to the people who need it most?”
– Delyth Jewell AM (Plaid, South Wales East)
Mick Antoniw AM (Lab, Pontypridd) highlighted the public health impacts of flooding which are often neglected – many households have been put on antibiotics and given tetanus vaccines.
Bethan Sayed AM (Plaid, South Wales West) called for major improvements to public information, saying information was often coming from multiple different sources, was occasionally difficult to digest and some residents didn’t know if or when they had to leave their homes.
Flooding causes will be investigated
Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham), said local authorities and Natural Resources will have to investigate the causes of the flooding and make any reports publicly available for scrutiny.
The Minister largely repeated what she said during Tuesday’s statement, saying that a new flood strategy would address many of the points raised by AMs including the location of new flood defences and improved information.