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Heledd Fychan MS is Calling for Publication of Reports into 2020 Floods and RCT Council’s Response

Written by on 25th January 2022

Next month marks the two-year anniversary since communities across Rhondda Cynon Taf and beyond were devastated by extensive flooding as a result of Storm Dennis. 

However, to date Rhondda Cynon Taf Council have only released 3 of the 28 flood investigation reports, 19 of which are Section 19 reports,  further delaying progress to prevent flooding in the future.

Approximately 1498 homes and businesses were hit and vital infrastructure destroyed, but two years on communities are still left waiting for answers.

Since her election in May 2021, Plaid Cymru Senedd Member for South Wales Central Heledd Fychan MS has continued the campaign for justice, calling on the Welsh Government to hold an independent inquiry into the flooding.

Through the Co-operation agreement with the Welsh Government, Plaid Cymru has secured an independent review of the local government section 19 reports as well as more capital investment into flood management and mitigation. But this work cannot begin without thee publication of the reports themselves.

Heledd Fychan MS said:

“The upcoming anniversary of Storm Dennis will be a difficult time for many people.  

“Communities like Pontypridd, Nantgarw, Pentre and Ynysybwl were amongst the worst impacted with hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed. While many have been able to return to their homes, all 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. 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. ”

Ms Fychan further added: 

“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.

“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.”

In response to this, a spokesperson for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has told GTFM:

“Since Storm Dennis, the Council has invested significant time and resources to mitigate the risk of flood events, with works not reliant upon a Section 19 report (under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010) being published. Therefore, non-publication of reports does not delay any development of, or investment in, flood alleviation works.

“The Act requires the Lead Local Flood Authority to investigate flooding, identify the Risk Management Authorities (RMA) responsible for managing the risk, and report on what functions they have exercised and what functions they propose to exercise. They are legal documents requiring consultation with the named RMAs, and sometimes this may take longer than expected.

“It is important to note that RMAs start exercising their functions as soon as there is a flood event. For example, in relation to the Section 19 report focusing on Pentre in July 2021, 17 functions had already been exercised before publication of the report.

“The Council is envisaging the publication of a further six reports this week – by Friday, January 28. This will bring the running total to 28 Flood Investigation Reports, one Overview Report and nine Section 19 reports, relating to Storm Dennis.

“In exercising its general powers and functions as an RMA, since Storm Dennis the Council has surveyed more than 50km of underground culverted watercourse, created a dedicated Drainage Management team with 24/7 resources, opened an emergency control centre, and installed 26 additional cameras/telemetry to monitor higher risk infrastructure.

“In addition, the Council has completed more than 50 projects in communities relating to flood alleviation, and is developing more than 50 others. It has also provided more than 400 sets of interim flood resistant equipment (for example, expandable barriers) to the highest risk properties. The total investment in flood alleviation within RCT since Storm Dennis will be more than £13m by the end of March 2022 – which does not include a significant number of further funding bids for 2022/23.”