First Minister Mark Drakeford and Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths visited the £6.1 million scheme today (14 March) to see how the flood defences have impacted on the local area and how the new scheme will help reduce risk to properties.
Pontarddulais, which is situated on the banks of the River Dulais, north-west of Swansea, has suffered severe flooding dating back to the 1940’s, with recent events in 2003, 2005 and 2008.
The scheme, led by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), involved building a flood storage reservoir upstream of the town, which can hold back the equivalent of nearly 70 Olympic size swimming pools. During high river flows, water will back up behind the embankment in Cwm Dulais, restricting flow downstream. This has reduced flood risk to 224 residential and 22 non-residential properties in Pontarddulais.
As well as reducing the risk of flooding to the town, the scheme has also provided a number of environmental benefits.
As part of the works, a wetland area to the south of the embankment has been created with 56 native trees and almost 3,000 tree saplings and shrubs having been planted. Once established the trees and shrubs will soften the visual impact of the embankments and provide habitat and connectivity within the valley.
The scheme was designed to minimise disruption to residents and have less visual impact as well as providing an opportunity to include ecological benefits.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said:
“Floods cause devastating damage to people’s homes, businesses and livelihoods, hurting whole communities. Minimising the effects and protecting our towns and villages from further harm is a priority for our Government.
“The £6.1million invested into the Pontarddulais scheme will make a considerable and significant difference to the lives of those living and working around the River Dulais, safeguarding for the long term.”
Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “After several incidents of flooding in Pontarddulais we believe this scheme is the most appropriate way to address this issue in an environmentally friendly way. We have provided a significant investment which will protect people’s homes and local businesses for many years to come.
“It has been fascinating to learn about the work carried out and the wider environmental benefits to the surrounding area from this scheme.
“I am keen to see more of this type of scheme in the future, which considers the environmental impact and identifies wider benefits which flood and coastal schemes can bring.
“Earlier this week I announced work will soon be starting on a three year, £150million investment programme of coastal risk management schemes. An additional £50million has also been announced for flood and coastal erosion risk management works over the next 12 months, as protecting homes and businesses from the devastating consequences of flooding is a key priority of this government.”
Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales, said:
“The Welsh Government has given us responsibility to protect at-risk communities across Wales, but we must also look to deliver schemes with wider benefits to local people and wildlife.
“Building the flood storage area in the Dulais valley upstream of Pontarddulais was less disruptive for people than building flood walls through the town and gave us the opportunity to improve the local environment as well.“By creating a wetland area and planting many trees and shrubs, we’ve created new habitats which will provide a home to a rich variety of plants and animals.”