‘Very little done’ to protect Dinas Powys more than a year after severe floods
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Residents in the Vale of Glamorgan have been left waiting more than a year for flood defences to be improved after suffering severe flooding.
More than 100 homes in Dinas Powys and Sully were devastated by flooding on December 23, 2020, after the Cadoxton River and nearby brooks overflowed.
Since then, “very little has been done” to help protect homes at risk according to one community councillor, while the fear of being hit by flooding again still remains.
An update on the Dinas Powys floods was given on February 15 to the environment and regeneration scrutiny committee at Vale of Glamorgan council.
Council bosses and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) told the committee about the work done since the floods, which includes writing several reports, bidding for surveys, and modelling of sewer networks.
But Chris Franks, community councillor in Dinas Powys, said little has improved in the village—which could still be at risk of flooding similar to December 2020.
He said: “I don’t believe the Vale council is treating residents with the necessary consideration. In their hour of need, the council was nowhere to be seen. Since that terrible time, little really has improved. The Vale hasn’t allocated adequate resources to allow council officers to react in a timely and substantial manner to any future incidents.
“There is scant evidence on the ground for concern of people’s wellbeing. The main road, the A4055, was flooded for a considerable period and to a considerable depth, isolating hundreds of households. Residents received next to no support from statutory agencies, including the Vale council, apart from the fire service.
“The Vale offered sandbags from the Court Road depot [in Barry], meanwhile most of the roads into Dinas Powys were seriously flooded. Since December 2020, on the ground in practical terms for individual homes, very little has been done.
“If we had a flood tonight, what would be the difference between tonight and what happened on December 23? I think next to nothing.”
Michael Clogg, the council’s operational manager for highways and engineering, said some work has taken place, such as cleaning drains, surveying rivers, and modelling sewers, but added that flooding is “very complex”.
He said: “Flooding is a very complex issue, there’s a number of issues to consider and we don’t want to do anything to exacerbate flooding in other areas. Everything needs to be looked at carefully and modelled, and we need to be clear what actions we’re taking to address the situation.
“There’s a number of works we’ve done already in terms of cleansing and repairing highway drainage, there’s survey works that have been underway, and Welsh Water is modelling their network. There’s an awful lot of work going on. We’re doing our very best to move things forward as fast as we can, given the complex nature of things.
“On the night of the flooding—I’m a resident of Dinas Powys myself—and I spent the best part of that night in work, in the emergency flood room in the Alps depot [by Culverhouse Cross] trying to deal with and coordinate activities, trying to get people out to assist with the flooding.
“We tried our very best to deal with calls for assistance on the night. I’m sorry if perhaps the community and other people think that wasn’t enough, but we did our very best with the resources we had available.”
Tim Marshall, from NRW, commended residents of Dinas Powys for carrying out works themselves to protect their own homes from any future flooding.
He said: “Of course it’s very frustrating for those who are at risk of flooding and who have experienced flooding that the pace of change on the ground is not as quick as they would like. I would commend the residents of Dinas Powys for the work they’ve undertaken to get their own flood plans and provisions together.”
NRW had previously proposed major flood defence works to protect Dinas Powys, by building a giant dam upstream. However those plans were dropped, after locals campaigned against how the dam—60 metres wide and 3.5 metres high—would mean a huge loss of 1,000 square metres of ancient woodland in the nearby Cwm George Woods.
Twice a year NRW removes vegetation from the banks of the Cadoxton and the East Brook, and once a year sprays the vegetation there with herbicide. NRW is now working with consultants Arup on exploring options for ‘natural flood management’ around Dinas Powys.
Further down the river, major work has recently been completed on the outfall of the Cadoxton in Barry, improving the size and speed of where the river flows into the sea. This should prevent high tides from inundating the local area. NRW is also asking for Welsh Government funding for a flow gauge in the river and a water level recorder.
One resident from Llandough told the scrutiny committee she had been overlooked despite persistent problems with flooding near her home. Katie Parsons-Young, who lives on Llandough Hill, said her street has suffered from flooding for several years with little action taken from the Vale council.
She said: “There’s a culvert running underneath our front garden which overflows regularly. It’s not blocked—the culvert is not fit for purpose. There’s been no action for us in the past nine years at all.
“The flooding was exacerbated when Welsh Water and Vale of Glamorgan council gave permission to Persimmon Homes to add surface water for their new build homes to the culvert running underneath our house. It’s a privately owned culvert, and they should never have given permission for them to enter it. But I can’t seem to get my voice heard.
“I spent £28,000 making alterations to stop my house from flooding. It was a massive disappointment for us tonight. This is a polite request from us: can you please do something to help us.”
Clive Moon, engineering manager at the Vale council, said that it would be difficult to find the funding for any works on Llandough Hill, as the issue only affects a small number of homes.
He said: “We have looked at the issue previously and we’ve undertaken plenty of work to confirm the form of the culvert. At this time, nothing has changed in terms of the viability of us taking forward a scheme at this location. I would say to keep reporting these incidents.
“The more reports we get means we can build up a picture of how often flooding is happening, which helps us to understand how frequently it’s happening and what the impact on properties is, so that we can try to better prioritise schemes. Officers in my team are still investigating all of the culverts in that area, following the flooding in December 2020.”
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