Exasperated Welsh farmers blast Natural Resources Wales over ‘preventable flooding’
Exasperated farmers, whose land is flooded every year, have hit out at what they say is inaction by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
At a Farmer’s Union of Wales (FUW) meeting on Anglesey they said “enough is enough” in the face of continuing flooding on the island.
The area – deemed an Internal Drainage District – is protected by a dyke and a series of ditches and floodgates which are opened to release floodwater from the river Cefni. But they are closed to protect the land from the ravages of high tides in the winter.
As the first big storms of winter arrived last week, farmers in Cors Malltraeth between Malltraeth and Llangefni were racing to rescue animals and save their livelihood from the flooded wetlands.
Landowners in the area all pay annual rates to the NRW for maintaining the ditches and maintaining the river but they says the dredging has been reduced to just cutting the vegetation back, leaving less room for the water to flow and leading to flooding every year.
A meeting on the matter was arranged by the Farmers’ Union of Wales Anglesey office.
It was was also attended by a representative of Anglesey County Council’s Structures Department which is concerned about the A5 at Pentre Berw which was underwater for several days, and local MS, Rhun ap Iorwerth.
FUW Anglesey county executive officer Alaw Jones said: “The problem is twofold – the clearing of the ditches and riverbed and the operation of the floodgates.
“Until recently the NRW used to clear the ditches and dredge the rivers much sooner in the season but now they say they don’t have the budget. This is ruining farmers’ livelihoods and is flooding food producing, quality land out of production.”
She added that the farmers are desperate to fix the problem and have offered to pull together to rebuild the breaches in the banks of the river Ceint, which flows into the Cefni on the site, and which were caused in 2017, but are struggling as the NRW refuse to grant them the necessary licences to work on the land.
“Members can be assured that we will continue to raise issues such as these on their behalf to ensure the problems are addressed,” she said.
‘Reduce flood risk’
Dylan Williams, Operations Manager for Natural Resources Wales (NRW) said: “Our work to reduce flood risk is prioritised, as directed by Welsh Government, to protect people and their properties from flood risk.
“Maintaining and improving the Afon Ceint embankment, which mainly protects agricultural land, can’t currently be prioritised over protecting communities most at risk.
“As we develop options to reduce flood risk in Llangefni, the function of the Cefni embankment will be fully considered.
“Climate change is a reality and is impacting on us in many ways – drier summers, wetter winters, and more frequent storms. We are already considering what impact this will have on flood alleviation and how, as an organisation, we can help communities respond to these events.”