Call for publication of reports into Rhondda flooding almost two years after Storm Dennis
A Senedd Member has called for the publication of reports into extensive flooding in Rhondda Cynon Taf, almost two years after Storm Dennis caused significant damage to property in the area.
Dennis hit Wales less than a week after another damaging storm, Ciara, in February 2020, flooding 1498 homes and businesses.
So far Rhondda Cynon Taf Council have only released 3 of 28 flood investigation reports they have promised, which Plaid Cymru MS Heledd Fychan said could delay progress to prevent flooding in the future.
The Cooperation Agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Government includes a commitment to holding an independent review of the local government section 19 flooding reports as well as more capital investment into flood management and mitigation.
But this work cannot begin without the publication of the reports themselves, Heledd Fychan said.
“Two years on we still don’t know what went wrong and why, and whether homes and businesses will be safe if a similar storm were to hit in the future,” she said.
“This is why RCT Council must publish the remaining reports into the floods as a matter of urgency so that we can begin to scrutinise them. Lessons must be learnt, and flood prevention measures must be put in place so that everything possible is done to minimise the impact of flooding in the future.”
One of the flooding reports published concluded that the weather was “extreme” and it was unlikely that flooding could be prevented entirely if a similar event was to occur.
Flooding in Treherbert during Storm Dennis was caused by “significant” surface water from the steep hillsides above the village overwhelming water courses, the report said.
The report concluded that the risk management authorities “satisfactorily carried out their functions in response to the flooding, with further measures proposed to better address preparedness and response in future flood events.”
But Heledd Fychan said that many communities now “live in fear, checking river levels and preparing for the worst every time there is heavy rain”.
“I have repeatedly called and campaigned for an independent inquiry into the floods and am pleased to see that through the Co-operation agreement with the Welsh Government that Plaid Cymru has secured an independent review into the floods,” she said.
“We are focused on making a difference and it is only because of community pressure and our influence in the Senedd that we are making progress on this issue.
“The review is an important step towards justice for flooding victims across RCT. ”
In November the council said it has taken 13 actions in response to the flooding, and has proposed doing a further six.
These include clearance work carried out to the culvert inlet structures identified as sources of flooding along with survey work, cleansing and jetting of around 800 metres of the ordinary watercourse network within the investigation area.
It has also started an interim Property Flood Resistance project offering expandable flood gates to those properties deemed at high risk of ordinary watercourse and surface water flooding – and is developing a flood routing scheme along the A4061 (Abertonllwyd Street) to manage overland flows.
The council has also set up an emergency control room bringing together its call centre and CCTV operations to provide a “multi-agency, comprehensive and informed response” in future storms.
The council said it will also look to better understand the catchment around Treherbert by developing a business case to provide recommendations for suitable management systems which will aim to mitigate the future risk of ordinary watercourse, surface water and groundwater flooding locally.
The report has been put together from inspections made by the council’s flood risk management team during the days following Storm Dennis, as well as information from residents, the council’s public health team, Natural Resources Wales and Dwr Cymru Welsh Water.
The council is the lead local flood authority and land drainage authority and has to provide a factual account of what happened in major flooding events.
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