AN INVESTIGATION into the flooding incidents in Carmarthenshire caused by Storm Callum has put forward 55 separate recommendations for action.
Hundreds of homes and businesses across the county were affected by one of the worst flooding to hit South Wales in the last 50 years.
Storm Callum is the biggest flood event on record for the River Teifi and the biggest for the River Towy since 1987 and resulted in a massive clean-up operation running into millions of pounds.
As a Lead Local Flood Authority, Carmarthenshire County Council has a statutory requirement under section 19 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 to carry out an investigation and publish its findings.
In particular, reports should be carried out for flooding incidents where 20 or more properties in a locality are affected by flooding internally. As a result, full reports have been carried out on the flooding that affected communities in Johnstown, Carmarthen; Pensarn, Carmarthen; Llanybydder and Llandysul / Pont Tyweli. Major flooding also occurred in Newcastle Emlyn on the county boundary, however Ceredigion County Council is taking the lead on this.
A multi-agency Storm Callum flood group has been meeting monthly since October to oversee the investigation and delivery of the recommendations and will continue on a quarterly basis to discuss the progress on the various actions. Many of the actions have already been completed, some are for the local authority to undertake; others are for various partner agencies such as Natural Resources Wales, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and Network Rail to take forward.
Executive Board Member for the Environment Cllr Hazel Evans said: “Storm Callum had a devastating effect on many of our communities and a real effect on people’s lives. We cannot underestimate the damage caused by this type of flooding and it is important a full investigation is carried out so that we can try and understand what happened and why, and what we can try to do to in terms of flood alleviation in the future.”
Director of Environment Ruth Mullen, who chairs the multi-agency flood group, said: “Going forward I think the report makes it clear that there is a need for us all to better understand and manage flood risk; and we also need to fill in some gaps in relation to the current information and knowledge we hold, for example, in relation to the surface water drainage network.
“There are also further surveys and investigations that can be carried out in some areas so that we can better understand if there are any additional measures that can be put in place to lessen the risk of flooding in the future. Of course, this will cost money and will be reliant on further funding and / or grants. We have already received £3.1milllion from Welsh Government to carry out repairs to the road network due to damage as a result of Storm Callum and we have also been successful in budding for £30k of Welsh Government capital funding to undertake a feasibility study / outline business case to evaluate the flood risk and mitigation at Pensarn.”
The report will go before the Environmental and Public Protection Scrutiny Committee for discussion on Friday, July 5.
Thousands of dead fish in river Afon Dulas pollution incident Download
NATURAL RESOURCES WALES (NRW) can confirm that more than 2,000 fish have been killed due to a slurry pollution incident in West Wales.
Officers have been on site taking samples and conducting fish surveys since the incident was first reported on the River Dulas near Capel Isaac in Carmarthenshire on Monday (8 July).
An estimated three miles (4.7 kilometre) stretch of the river has been affected and has had a major impact on invertebrates as well as fish – mainly brown trout but also bullhead, eels, lamprey, stone loach, minnow and salmon.
Ioan Williams, Natural Resource Management Team Leader from NRW, said:
“Protecting Wales’ waterways and the plants and animals that depend on them is a massive part of the work we do which is why people can report pollution incidents to us 24/7.
“Unfortunately, we can confirm that the total number of fish that were killed is significant and will have an adverse effect on the river for years to come.
“We can also confirm that there has been a significant impact on invertebrates in the river.
“Our staff have been working tirelessly to gather evidence about this incident and we will use that evidence to consider future legal action.
“Incidents such as this shouldn’t be happening.
“We work very closely with the farming industry to make sure they understand the devastating and long-term damage that pollution causes and what steps they can take to prevent it from happening.
“It is completely unacceptable and irresponsible that a small number of farmers are not taking notice of good practice and regulations and therefore giving the rest of the industry a bad name.
“These incidents come at a time when we are already seeing salmon and sewin stocks at very low levels.
“We encourage the agricultural sector to do everything they can to prevent further pollution incidents occurring and ensure they invest in adequate on-farm slurry infrastructure and follow good practice. We would also urge framers to report any issues to us immediately.”
NRW encourages people to report signs of pollution on 03000 65 3000 so it can respond appropriately and give Welsh rivers the protection they deserve.
Council’s plan to cut CO2 by almost 700 tonnes a year
CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council is investing over £2.5million to make energy efficiencies in its buildings in a bid to cut carbon emissions by almost 700 tonnes a year.
It is part of the council’s efforts to become a net zero carbon local authority by 2030, a commitment it made in February when declaring a climate emergency.
The authority has taken out an interest-free loan to pay for the Welsh Government Re:fit scheme, which it will pay back over 10 years from savings on running costs.
New technology will be installed in non-domestic buildings – including schools – to save energy and water, with an estimated 691 tonnes of CO2 saved every year.
Over 30 sites have been identified for phase one of the roll-out, undertaken on behalf of the council by renewable energy company Ameresco.
The scheme is in addition to the energy saving measures the council has already applied in its buildings.
To date, over £2million has been invested in over 200 energy efficiency projects, saving over £7million in running costs and 41,000 tonnes of CO2 over the lifetime of installed technologies.
The council has a policy of integrating low and zero carbon technologies into major building works projects such as schools, where PV installations and Passivhaus standards are already in use.
Its fleet of refuse lorries is the most emission-friendly fleet in Wales; street lighting has been converted to LED units; and there has been significant investment in Safe Routes in the Community and Safe Routes to Schools to encourage more sustainable travel.
In 2012 Carmarthenshire became the first council in Wales to introduce electric pool car vehicles, and has recently secured funding for plug-in chargers following an increase in electric vehicle sales.
Last year, the council vowed to reduce single-use plastics in council buildings and offices and ban plastic cups and straws.
The council’s climate declaration was backed unanimously by councillors in February.
As well as making and planning changes towards a target of becoming a zero carbon local authority by 2030, it has called on Welsh and UK Governments to provide support and resources to enable effective carbon reductions.
Cllr Hazel Evans, Executive Board Member for Environment, said: “We take our commitment to working towards becoming a carbon neutral authority very seriously, and we’re pleased to be making this investment not only to save harmful carbon emissions, but also to save financially on the cost of running our buildings.
“Coupled with our on-going property rationalisation programme, we are producing financial and carbon savings in times of increasing utility prices. This is a win-win situation when we are also able to help the environment.”
Dyfed Powys exploring greater use of technology in policing
INCREASING the use of technology in policing is something Dyfed Powys Police is exploring, the force’s Commissioner has confirmed.
Dafydd Llywelyn told members of the Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Panel at its meeting in Ceredigion this week, that he was looking closely at the work of other forces around the UK.
Mr Llywelyn, who sits on the National Digital Policing Board, said he is in the fortunate position of watching the development of technology that he introduced in his former role as the force’s principal crime and intelligence analyst – before he was elected as Commissioner in 2016 – and hopes that the use of technology will develop to aid effective policing.
He was responding to a question from panel member Cllr Keith Evans, who wanted reassurance that the force is closely assessing the risks involved in using technology, such as facial recognition equipment.
“We don’t use facial recognition in Dyfed Powys at the moment, but that’s not to say that we won’t explore that in the future,” said Mr Llywelyn. “Technology is increasingly being used by police forces – it includes body worn cameras, CCTV, and mobile data terminals that the police have. We are learning from advancements.”
He added: “There’s a test case involving South Wales Police at the moment, and it’s about balancing effective policing with the right to a private life. I think there should be a caveat in terms of the risk – in Dyfed Powys there is an independent assessment of procedures and we’ve had a clean bill of health every year.”
Cllr Keith Evans responded to his comments, saying: “What’s important to us is that this work is considered carefully. Technology will feature more prominently in the work of the police and it’s about striking the right balance.”
The Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Panel is made up of representatives from the four counties of the force area.
It is the Panel’s duty to hold Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn to account.
The Panel meets at least four times a year, and can put questions to the Commissioner on behalf of members of the public.
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