Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies has called for an urgent meeting with Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Welsh Water and Denbighshire County Council to discuss how a recurrence of the flooding which devastated homes and businesses across the Vale of Clwyd last week can be prevented in the future.
Last Friday’s Storm Babet caused significant quantities of rainfall across North East Wales and resulted in localised areas of flooding across Denbighshire.
James received many calls and emails over last weekend from those affected and has since visited a number of the sites which were hit.
He said the causes appear to be: overtopping of inadequately-flowing drainage ditches; overtopping of the Afon Ffyddion; large quantities of surface water flowing downhill within culverts, lifting manhole covers and then escaping onto roads; inadequate surface water gulley drainage capacity; and underwater flows combined with a raised water table.
Keen to ensure that homes and businesses are not affected again in the future, he is calling on the authorities responsible to address these issues.
In a letter to NRW, Welsh Water and Denbighshire County Council, he states:
“The impact of this flooding on both people and businesses has been substantial, with many roads closed, businesses affected and residents temporarily relocated. There will undoubtedly be a significant financial toll to clean up the aftermath and it has been a distressing time for hundreds of people.
“Of course, I appreciate that with unprecedented rainfall it can be difficult to mitigate all flooding. However, there were a number of locations where concerns have previously been raised over flooding risks, or which have been flooded sometimes multiple times in the past.
“I visited Marine Holiday Park on Monday to see the impact of the flooding on their site. As you will be aware, the site sits adjacent to the Cut, which, along with connected drainage channels, was implicated in the flooding they experienced. Likewise, there was also flooding at locations such as Kingsley Avenue, Ffordd Derwen and its surroundings, Maes y Gog, Sainsbury’s and other units at Clwyd Retail Park. These all appear to have related to poorly flowing water within drainage channels.
“In the past, I have made repeated representations to NRW to seek better maintenance of the Rhyl Cut and the Prestatyn Gutter. While I was assured that most areas of the Cut would be maintained once a year and other areas could be maintained at least twice a year, the frequency or extent of the works is evidently not sufficient to minimise the risk of flooding. The same is certainly true for smaller, interconnecting channels.
“At Marine Holiday Park, it was clear that the flow of water along the Cut and other drainage channels, towards the Clwyd Estuary, was being impeded by significant vegetation, silt, fly tipping and litter. Indeed a supermarket trolley was among a number of larger items seen.
“In addition to basic maintenance, it would seem to me that NRW should also explore the potential for better pumping systems to ensure that water is not left stagnant but can flow through more easily into the Clwyd Estuary at times of greater rainfall.
“As a result of further poor maintenance of watercourses, I witnessed significant areas of farm land which were flooded in Rhuddlan. This, of course, has had a large impact on the operation of the farms themselves.
“Flooding in Dyserth was also of particular concern. This occurred through at least three mechanisms.
“The New Inn was once again flooded, resulting in its closure and significant financial bills for repair. Primarily, I understand this was because of overtopping of the Afon Ffyddion. The lack of progress on a flood alleviation scheme to address this is very frustrating. I understand that liaison between Denbighshire County Council and NRW has been inadequate at times and this must be overcome, given the necessary involvement of both parties.
“Secondly, surface water flooding proved problematic, particularly at the junction of Waterfall Road with the A547. Much of this emanated from overwhelmed drains, into which a culvert runs downhill. This issue has occurred previously and is devastating for the properties affected.
“Thirdly, I heard from a resident on Dyserth High Street, whose home was flooded by an apparent rise in level of an underground flow of water. I appreciate that it may well be that few options exist to prevent this.
“Clearly, there is a great need in Dyserth for a promised comprehensive flood defence plan to move forward rapidly.”
“Issues in St Asaph were also brought to my attention. The River Elwy flood defences in St Asaph prevented a repeat of the widespread damaging flooding in 2012, and this is to be celebrated. However, the Llys y Felin flats for the elderly were inundated once more. Again, this appears to have been due to drainage systems that are unable to cope with large volumes of surface water flowing into them, via a downhill culvert. It is clear that the construction of a small bund, the installation of individual flood barrier systems and the fitting of non-return valves to the drains have sadly been insufficient. It is very important that this issue be dealt with once and for all.”
James also referred to the roads which were flooded in large parts of the Vale of Clwyd, leaving some communities isolated.
“I received reports of this being the case in Cwm. There were reports of road drains and gulleys having been obstructed, or at least having been unable to cope with the volumes of water. The result was significant depths of surface water accumulating. For example, this was the case in Eastville Avenue in Rhyl, Garnett Drive in Prestatyn and elsewhere. I have been informed by some of my constituents that the road drains near them are not properly maintained and cleared regularly. One constituent claimed that they had not been cleared properly since 2019.”
“Finally, I was disappointed to receive the following comments from one of my constituents: “…it is imperative to highlight that the local council, the flood line, emergency services, non-emergency services, and several other agencies designated for such situations failed to provide the necessary support. I must also point out that the local council failed to provide sandbags and suggested using towels, which was inadequate given the extensive water surrounding and entering my property, as evident in the attached media.”
“Clearly therefore, the impact of Storm Babet was complicated, resulting in flooding within my constituency via a number of routes.
“The above summary is not exhaustive but is very concerning nevertheless. I would be grateful if you would kindly meet with me urgently to discuss how a recurrence of such flooding can be prevented in the future.”