Our response to Audit Wales’ ‘Picture of Flood Risk Management’ report

Responding to Audit Wales’ ‘Picture of Flood Risk Management’ report, Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales said:

“As the Audit Wales report sets out, it is clear that Wales’ resilience to climate-induced flooding is not keeping pace with the rising risk, and that sustained action is needed now to adapt to the challenges of the future.

“Over the past few years and months, the impacts of climate change on our own doorsteps have become more pronounced. The investments made to build and maintain flood defences and increase our own capabilities over the years have made a significant improvement to Wales’ resilience to extreme rainfall and have helped reduce the risk of flooding to thousands of properties across Wales.

“But what is working now, may not be enough to cope with the challenges of the future. We are simply going to have to take a different approach if we want to reduce Wales’ flood risk over the years ahead.

“It means making big decisions about how and where we live and work and learning to live with more water - and do so better than ever before. It means we need to build or convert properties to be more resilient to flood water, so that people and businesses can bounce back quicker when the waters start to rise. We need to ensure people know the steps they can take themselves to reduce the impact of flooding. We’ll also need to be more innovative and look at harnessing nature-based solutions to flooding and work more effectively with landowners to make space for the huge quantities of water we are seeing during floods.

“But no one single solution can solve the problem. Whilst NRW invests heavily in flood defences, it’s just not possible to prevent all floods, all the time, everywhere, and Wales will need a combination of measures in order to help communities become more resilient. With that comes the need for further investment in our human resources too. We will need more expert and skilled staff to deal with these complex issues because the resource need is greater in scale and longer in duration than that which we have at our disposal now.

“The cost of adaptation will always be an issue, especially at a time of pressure on public expenditure and people’s own cost of living. But ultimately, there is no silver bullet and we have limited time to take the steps needed to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts. Governments at all levels and society need to recognise the importance and urgency of taking a holistic approach to resilience and increase the nation’s level of preparedness to manage and compound the growing flood risks precipitated by the climate and nature emergencies. The impacts of climate change are happening now, and we need to take action now.”

Audit Wales

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