Plaid Cymru pledge to invest £500m on flood defences across Wales
Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter
Plaid Cymru have pledged to spend £500m on flood defences across Wales.
Councillor Heledd Fychan and Leanne Wood, who are standing in the Senedd elections for Pontypridd and Rhondda respectively, have said a Plaid government if elected on May 6 would commit £500m to improving Wales flood defences and support the communities “left behind by Labour” in recent years.
In what Plaid describe as a “ground-breaking commitment”, Leanne Wood who is seeking re-election in the Rhondda constituency said that major storms over the last few years had devastated homes in her community, nearby Pontypridd, and in many other areas of Wales from Llanrwst to Caerphilly.
She said: “Major storms over the last few years have devastated homes in communities nationwide.
“We have all been moved by the heart-breaking accounts of residents voicing their fears about going to sleep at night whenever there is heavy rainfall in case their homes are damaged yet again. This has to end.
“A Plaid Cymru government would invest £500m in flooding mitigation, identifying and tackling the root cause of the problem and putting an end to Labour’s piecemeal approach to flood prevention.
“We will place a greater emphasis on prevention in planning guidelines, recognising that climate change will make serious flooding events more likely in future.”
Under their proposals, £12.5m would go to the Rhondda and the £500m would be split equally between 40 constituencies rather than local authorities.
Plaid Cymru have said that in practice, the funding is more likely to be divided according to need and flooding likelihood or frequency rather than equally between areas.
As the Rhondda is a constituency which is very at risk of flooding it’s probable that in reality the Rhondda will receive at least £12.5m, Plaid have said.
They add that this funding is in addition to all that is already exists for RCT to draw upon.
Cllr Fychan, Senedd election candidate for the Pontypridd constituency, criticised Labour for opposing an independent inquiry into severe flooding in the Valleys, saying that a Plaid Cymru government would put right Labour’s “piecemeal approach” to flood prevention with meaningful investment.
Cllr Fychan, who has led the campaign for a public inquiry, reaffirmed the party’s commitment to a full and transparent investigation:
“There also needs to be a greater focus on natural flood management, utilising techniques such as restoring peatland and planting new woodland to manage water retention in the uplands.
“Only a radical and meaningful investment plan such as the one offered by Plaid Cymru will give real reassurance to the communities left behind by Labour.
“We would also act where Labour have failed by holding a full public inquiry into the widespread flooding that occurred in 2020 across Wales and act on its recommendations to give residents the answers they deserve.”
The Labour leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council gave a recent update on social media on the investment and work that’s gone in to flood management over the last year and said the £12.5m Plaid are promising over the next five years (£2.5m a year) is less than the council is planning to spend.
Councillor Andrew Morgan said that in 2020 the council spent over £8m worth of repairs to damaged infrastructure like roads, river walls and culverts.
He also said they’ve spent over £7m from the Welsh Government on upgrading and increasing the capacity of a number of flood schemes, drainage schemes and culverts.
The council plans to spend around £20m more with the Welsh Government around damaged infrastructure such as the Tylorstown tip and around £7m on further drainage and culvert improvements including £50,000 for Treherbert, £770,000 for Treorchy, £165,000 each for Rhigos and Hirwaun, over £450,000 for Pentre, £400,000 for Abercwmboi, £60,000 for Cilfynydd , £600,000 for Glenboi in Mountain Ash, £300,000 for a further scheme in Mountain Ash East, almost £300,000 for Ynyshir and over £100,000 for Coed Ely.
He said that there are almost 40 schemes in RCT receiving upgrades and improvements over the next year.
He also mentioned the next work on the restoration of the Tylorstown tip will start this summer before starting work on the Rhondda Fach cycle route from Maerdy to Pontygwaith.
He said: “The damage from Storm Dennis was quite excessive so it does mean that while we have over 40 schemes planned for the coming year there will need to be further investment over the next two or three years and then ongoing investment to make sure that flood assets and the bigger culverts and the bigger infrastructure we’re putting in place is well maintained and is there for the future.”
Cllr Morgan has previously said that the robust process around the reporting requirement under section 19 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 negates the need for a public inquiry which would be at a substantial cost to the public purse.
The candidates confirmed to date for the Rhondda seat the Senedd elections on May 6 are Steve Bayliss of Reform UK, Jackie Charlton of the Liberal Democrats, Tom Parkhill of the Conservatives, Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru and Buffy Williams of Labour.
The candidates confirmed to date standing for the Pontypridd consitutency on May 6 are Mick Antoniw of Labour, Ken Barker of the Green Party, Heledd Fychan of Plaid Cymru, Joel James of the Conservatives, Jamie Jenkins of Reform UK and Steve Rajam of the Liberal Democrats.