NATURAL Resources Wales (NRW) has published its road map for managing Wales' flood risk - with over 15,800 properties in north East Wales at risk.

NRW says that, as climate change fuels the ferocity and frequency of extreme weather events, more action is needed to build adaptation and resilience to the very real impacts of those real threats.

NRW’s Flood Risk Management Plan (FRMP) sets out the priorities for managing flood risk in Wales for the next six years, for the areas of flooding for which NRW has lead responsibilities.

Set against the backdrop of climate and nature emergencies, it outlines how the nation needs to continue to invest in and improve existing systems, such as its network of flood defences and its flood warning system.

However, it also underlines how Wales needs to do more to mitigate and adapt to the inevitability of flooding, focussing on building resilience and taking a whole catchment approach within those communities at risk of flooding now, and in the future.

The larger rivers that can be found in north east Wales are the Dee, Clywd and Elwy.

The plan states that, across that region, there are currently 15,686 properties at risk of flooding from the sea and 8,846 properties at risk of flooding from rivers.

Just last month, the village of Trevalyn in Flintshire was severely impacted when Storm Babet hit the region.

Among those affected was 82-year-old Harry Smith who had to be rescued from his flooded home by his family members. 

Concerns were raised over flood defence equipment having not being used properly to ease the effects of the storm.

Another disaster mentioned in the NRW plan was when Storm Christoph (20 January 2021) brought significant rain to North Wales, recording one of the wettest three-day periods on record. 

The significant rainfall and river flooding led to the evacuation of some residents in Bangor-on-Dee (Wrexham) and Lower Dee, the collapse of a bridge over the river Clywd and 23 properties flooding in Ruthin, Denbighshire.

Through NRW's Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment stage associated with this FRMP communities were identified as “Flood Risk Areas”.

The North East Wales Flood Risk Areas (river and sea) are:

  • Bangor-on-Dee
  • Bretton
  • Cefn Mawr
  • Connah’s Quay and Shotton
  • Dyserth
  • Garden City and Deeside industrial estate
  • Glyndyfrdwy
  • Holt
  • Llandrillo
  • Mold
  • Penyffordd
  • Pentrecelyn
  • Plas Devon
  • Prestatyn
  • Queensferry, Sandycroft and Manor Lane
  • Rhydymwyn
  • Rhyl
  • Rossett and Burton
  • Ruthin

In Wales as a whole, approximately 1 in 8 properties (245,118) are currently at risk of flooding from rivers, the sea and surface water. 

Figures highlighted in the FRMP show that, over the next century, 46,000 more homes will become at risk of flooding from rivers and the sea in Wales.

Across North East Wales, there are predicted to be 20,000 properties at risk of flooding from the sea and nearly 11,500 properties at risk of flooding from rivers by 2120.

This is an increase of nearly 4,500 properties at risk of flooding from the sea and an increase of over 2,500 properties at risk of flooding from rivers.

Climate projections indicate that we will see an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including storm events in the summer and prolonged wet periods during the winter.

This will increase peak flows in our rivers, which is expected to increase the risk of flash flooding events.

The Leader: Some of the communities across the North East Wales Place that are most at risk of flooding fromPICS: Some of the north east Wales locations at risk of flooding according to NRW.

Jeremy Parr, Head of Flood and Incident Risk Management at NRW said: “More frequent and more extreme flooding and storm surges are becoming the new normal and are already posing greater risks to lives, infrastructure and property. How we plan for and manage our flood risk in response to that has far reaching consequences for communities in Wales.

“From making improvements to our Flood Warning Service and our engineered defences, through to greater use of nature based solutions and whole catchment approaches, our plan sets out how we will prioritise our action over the next 6 years to reduce that risk to people and property in areas most at risk. 

“However, we have to recognise that the risk of flooding cannot ever be removed entirely. Whilst NRW invests heavily in flood defences, we simply cannot just build our way out of the issues we face. Wales will need a combination of measures in order to help communities become more resilient.

“It means making big decisions about where development is allowed, and learning to live with more water 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, and take whole catchment-scale approaches to make space for the huge quantities of water we are seeing during floods.

“It is essential we get ready for the unavoidable impacts by taking action and building in resilience now, so that when flooding does happen it poses much less risk to people, does less damage, and helps ensure life can get back to normal much quicker."