Rural Wales Fears Flood Measures Will Be Swamped by Urban Areas; MOST FAIL TO MEET NEW RISK ASSESSMENT OF 5,000 PEOPLE
Byline: RHODRI CLARK
POLITICIANS in rural areas of Wales have criticised a new definition of "significant flood risk" that excludes nearly all of Wales because it is too sparsely populated.
TheWelsh Assembly Government said last night that it would not divert flood defence cash to urban areas because of the new European Union flood risk definition.
But concerns were raised that the change in the threshold, which means only areas in Cardiff, Swansea, Neath and the central Valleys can be considered at a significant risk of floods caused by surface areas, would change priorities.
Powys councillor Wynne Jones said better defences were needed in many places in his county, and he would be horrified if funding was refocused from rural to urban areas.
"In recent years the Government has wanted more and more bang for its buck. It wants more and more houses safeguarded for its money," said Mr Jones, Powys' cabinet member for the environment.
"In Powys, people affected by flooding aren't in huge areas of housing. They're in small communities, or just parts of small communities. They can be in isolated properties as well. That's the problem.
"We mustn't forget people just because they're in small communities."
This month, all Welsh councils must submit to the Environment Agency preliminary assessments of their communities for flood risk from surface water.
There are suggestions ministers in Westminster and Cardiff Bay may have set the bar too high for rural communities affected by surface-water flooding.
David Harris, Monmouthshire council's head of waste management, told councillors that the new definition was based on the probability of flooding and the consequences of that flooding.
"The consequences are set around three areas - the effects on human health, economic activity, and the environment and cultural heritage. …