SECTION 19 FLOOD INVESTIGATION REPORT INTO THE FLOOD EVENT ON 20TH JANUARY 2021
To consider a report by the Council’s Flood Risk Manager (copy attached) which presents the Committee with the statutory Section 19 report into the January 2021 flood event and seeks members’ support for assurances to be sought from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) that the recommendations identified within the report will be acted upon.
10:05am – 11:05am
The Lead Member for Waste, Transport and the Environment alongside the Head of Highways and Environmental Services and the Flood Risk Engineer presented the 20th January 2021 Flood Event – Section 19 Flood Investigation Report (previously circulated).
During their introduction they explained that between 18th and 20th January 2021, Storm Christoph brought strong winds, heavy rain and snow, with the most intense rainfall occurring over North Wales and northern England, bringing localised flooding to many areas. The Met Office reported that 50 to 100mm of rain fell widely across Wales and north-west England, with over 100mm across upland areas of Wales. Denbighshire experienced the effects of this Storm, with heavy and prolonged rain flooding around 67 homes and 6 businesses on the 20th January. The majority of the flooding was from main river sources. Natural Resources Wales (NRW), as the relevant flood risk management authority for main rivers, had carried out its own flood investigations. NRW’s flood investigation reports were included as appendices to the overarching investigation report.
Denbighshire County Council, as a Lead Local Flood Authority, had a duty under Section 19 of the Flood and Water Management Act to investigate flooding in its area.
The purpose of the investigation report was to address the following key questions:
· Why did the flooding happen?
· How likely it was for that scale of flooding to happen again?
· What improvement actions were needed to ensure flood risk in the County was appropriately managed in future?
Prior to commencing the discussion, the Chair advised the Committee that the Flood Risk Management and Riparian Land Ownership Task and Finish Group, which was currently examining flood matters and land ownership issued had realised that these were extremely complex areas. Organisations such as NRW and the Council were risk management authorities, however they were very rarely the landowners whose responsibility it was to ensure the maintenance of rivers and watercourses that traversed their land.
In response to Committee members’ questions the following details were provided:
· NRW officers clarified that landowners as riparian owners were responsible for maintaining rivers within their land boundaries. Denbighshire County Council (DCC) and NRW were flood risk management authorities, with NRW being responsible for main rivers and larger watercourses and DCC being the risk management authority of ordinary watercourses.
· NRW and DCC could use their powers to carry out works on waterways for the purpose of alleviating potential flood risks. If a landowner wished to carry out work they were legally allowed to, however this work would need to ensure there was no detrimental effect on nature, the river’s ecosystem or o other people. Flood Risk Activity Permits (FRAPs) would be required prior to any works being carried out.
· It was noted that Llanynys had been omitted from the report, the local member requested that Llanynys be included in the report, as he did not want the village to be miss out on any potential future flood risk alleviation work.
· Reference had not been included in the report to the loss of Pont Llannerch as the report dealt with the effect of flooding on properties. However, this did not in any way diminish the impact the loss of the bridge had on the communities it served, or on the wider transport network in the county. A public consultation exercise on the development of a replacement transport link had recently closed and the results were currently being analysed.
· Officers confirmed they had received funding from Welsh Government (WG), to look at natural flood defences, this would hopefully develop over the next couple of years. However, it was stated if the natural defences were highly saturated then they impact of lessening flooding would be minimal.
· Confirmed that drainage problems were not the cause of the flooding in the Clwyd Street area of Ruthin. The flooding was due to a mass volume of water which no flooding defence scheme could have stopped. Drains and gullies were regularly cleared. Highways drainage systems were inspected and cleaned at least once a year, however problem areas were cleared more frequently.
· NRW had updated its flood risk modelling work on the Ruthin area following the January 2021 flood event. As a result it was currently applying for permits to undertake some further flood risk mitigation work in the area and work was scheduled to start the following work on the bund located at Cae Ddol.
· NRW were exploring the possibility of including flood risk measures for the Rivers Ystrad at Brookhouse as part of a wider network review.
· NRW and DCC officers agreed that neither organisation could continue to fight the forces of nature. The organisations as well as residents would need to find ways of working with nature, including educating residents on how to mitigate and manage their own flood risks.
Members registered their concerns in relation to the perceived lack of progress with the Old Gaol in Ruthin, and felt the repair work was not being prioritised. The site, which was a main tourist attraction, would likely not be back in operation until July 2022, midway through the next tourism season.
The Chair informed the Committee that residents/business owners of flooded properties in the Mill Street/Clwyd Street area of Ruthin had received a copy of the Section 19 Flood Investigation Report and had subsequently forwarded some questions for the Committee to ask on their behalf. The Vice-Chair read out the questions which related to the Council’s flood risk management responsibilities, drainage related matters and an issue relating to a non-return valve situated close to the Old Gaol. Officers advised that the issues regarding the Council’s risk management responsibilities and drainage had already been explained during the discussion. The purpose of the non-return valve was to stop water from the River Clwyd from entering into the drainage system causing additional problems. The valve had operated as expected. The query relating to highway gullies being blocked had been dealt with during Stage 2 of the Council’s Complaints Procedure and officers were not in a position to comment further at this stage as the matter may be referred to the Public Services Ombudsman for further investigation.
At the conclusion of an in-depth discussion it was:
RESOLVED: to –
(i) receive the findings and conclusions of the Section 19 January 2021 Flood Investigation Report; and
to note the assurances given by Natural Resources Wales that the recommendations identified in its flood investigation reports would be carried out
- Jan 2021 Flood Investigation Report 211021, item 5. PDF 232 KB
- Jan 2021 Flood Investigation Report 211021 - App 1, item 5. PDF 826 KB
- January 2021 Flood Report NRW Ruthin, item 5. PDF 5 MB
- January 2021 Flood Report NRW Afon Ystrad, item 5. PDF 699 KB