Flood and Coastal Erosion Committee meeting: 29 September 2022: minutes
Minutes from the Flood and Coastal Erosion Committee Meeting No 10, 10.00am 29th September 2022, Council Chamber, Newport Civic Centre.
A PDF download of this document will be available soon.
In this page
Martin Buckle (MB) Chair
Andrew Stone (AS) Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC
Darren Thomas (DT) Pembrokeshire County Council
Paul Blackman (PB) Wallingford Hydro Solutions
David Harris (DH) Independent Consultant
Anne-Marie Moon (AMM) JBA Consulting
Jeremy Parr (JP) Natural Resources Wales
Mike Wellington (MW) Waterco
Natalie Haines (NH) Mott MacDonald
Catherine Wilson (CW) Cardiff University
Dominic Scott (DS) Dwr Cymru – Welsh Water
Jean-Francois Dulong (JFD) Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA)
Lowri Norrington-Davies (LND)
Clare Fernandes (CF)
Keith Ivens (KI)
Sara Taylor (ST)
Jonathan Fudge (JF)
Natural Resources Wales
Ross Akers (RA)
Dafydd Sidgwick (DS)
Owen Griffiths (OG) Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC
Owen Jones (OJ) Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC
George Baker (GB) JBA Consulting
Bethlyn Jones (BJ) JBA Consulting
Seth Newman (SN) Audit Wales
Verity Winn (VW) Audit Wales
Geraint Edwards (GE) Conwy County Borough Council
Karen Potter (KP) Open University
Lorna Davis (LD) National Farming Union Cymru
Leanne Llewellyn (LL) Welsh Government
1/2. Apologies and introductions
The Chair gave the apologies and introductions were made.
3. Declaration of Interests
No conflicts of interest noted.
4. Minutes of the meeting 26.05.22 and Matters Arising
Draft minutes had been circulated for comment and subsequently published.
The Chair noted that all actions had been completed.
5. Chair’s Announcements
The Chair made the following announcements:
“I would like to update the Committee on the meetings and events that I have attended since the last meeting of our Committee. At our last meeting I drew attention to the research project on FCERM governance in England and Wales, with a particular focus on partnership governance, which had been co-ordinated by the Environment Agency. This research is highly relevant to the work of our Resources Sub-Committee, and Kate Kipling, the leading researcher on the project, recently gave a presentation to the Sub-Committee, focusing particularly on Wales. A summary of the presentation and discussion can be found in the minutes of the meeting under agenda item 9.2.
In June, along with Karen Potter, I attended a workshop on TAN 15 organised by the Planning Officer’s Society for Wales. Welsh Government colleagues will be giving us an update on progress with TAN 15 under agenda item 9.4.
Also in June, I met with JBA Consulting to discuss their property flood resilience work on behalf of the Welsh Government. An update on this will be provided under agenda item 8. Again in June, I had a further meeting with colleagues from Audit Wales in connection with their review of FCERM in Wales. An update on this will be provided by Audit Wales under agenda item 12.
In July, I attended the quarterly meeting with the Chairs of the English Regional Flood and Coastal Committees. The meeting had a focus on coastal flood risk. Of particular interest were discussions around the extent of coastal defences in some parts of England which are in private ownership. A further meeting took place yesterday, where the focus was on partnership funding and natural flood management. The meeting received an interesting presentation on the work that Environment Agency colleagues have been undertaking on partnership working with other UK Government departments. I was able to share with the meeting the progress that we have made in preparing advice for Ministers on legal reform. The next meeting will be in December.
I would also like to put on record the responses to consultations which the Committee have completed since our last meeting. Over this period, we have responded with advice to the Welsh Government on the Coal Tip Safety (Wales) White Paper, and, following the discussion at our last meeting, on an early draft of the Welsh Government’s Coastal Adaptation Guidance. I would also draw the Committee’s attention to the Draft Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill, which has now been introduced to the Senedd. The Committee had expressed its support for outline proposals set out in a consultation document in 2020.
Next week I will have one of my regular update meetings with Julia Cherrett, the board member of Natural Resources Wales who chairs their Flood Risk Management Committee. In November, I will be meeting the Minister for Climate Change, when I will have an opportunity to discuss with her the reports on resources and on the need for legislative change prepared by our sub-committees. I can also advise the Committee that I have accepted an invitation from the Minister to serve as chair of the Committee for a further term up to 2025.”
6. Items from the Regional Groups
DT provided an update on behalf of South West Wales, covering the work undertaken preparing for Local Strategy updates, Capital Schemes and SuDS Advisory Body training and planning. The group have also shared feedback on their Strategic Flood Consequence Assessments (SFCAs) arising from the new TAN15. The regional group are reconsidering their Terms of Reference, and the Coastal Group has also met.
AS provided an update on behalf of Southeast Wales. No meeting had been held during his period; however, they are due to meet in a fortnight’s time. The group have been preparing their review of their Local Strategy. They have concerns over the Communities at Risk Register update, and the data which will need to be achieved by January 2023. There is strong feeling that if this is not accomplished the Local Strategy and combined Flood Risk Management Plan will be reporting on outdated information from 2018.
Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC (RCT) are due to publish the last of their 19, S19 reports next week. It was noted that this was a huge milestone, bringing together a huge amount of evidence following the flooding in 2020/21.
There is some concern relating to claims being made via the portal and the additional time with a new process.
The recent SFCA work has been resource-intensive on Local Authorities in supporting the ongoing TAN 15 Planning work. However, it has been very worthwhile.
7. Presentations from South East Wales
7.1 Regional Strategic Flood Consequences Assessment – Owen Jones, Development Services Manager (Planning Policy), Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC and George Baker, Associate Director, JBA Consulting.
OJ and GB provide a presentation on the work being undertaken leading to the South East Wales SFCA as part of the consideration of flood risk embedded in National Planning Policy and future TAN 15 guidance.
JF noted coastal erosion was not traditionally considered in an LDP, have you considered how in stage 1 it will be used in the regions? GB – it’s useful information and there is an aspiration that it will have a catchment approach, however, it’s not that easy to achieve because the TAN 15 guidance takes a site-specific approach.
JF - in the screening of sites, have you considered suitable SuDs? GB – again, we have not gone to that level of detail in this review, we would however, anticipate that level of detail would be put forward as site proposals progress.
DT - in reflection to your comment, if the purpose of the SFCA is not entirely clear, is this therefore affecting the outcomes of the work? GB - yes it affects its value. SFCA’s in England better inform recognition of where it floods least, this is not currently achieved under the proposed new TAN 15. There is no option to look across the catchment, specifically if you are trying to establish a lesser risk area in a wider catchment.
AS - in relation to surface water flooding, are the local strategies not better at carving out more issues, and are they not better at managing this risk? GB - TAN 15 is not so prescriptive on this area. There are enough doors left open for a local authority to build on as required for them.
MB - interesting to see how this is unfolding; TAN 15 and this work has evidently thrown up several questions that will potentially evolve over time. This work has evidently prompted several questions on how we get value; very interested in the interface with the Strategic Development Plan (SDP). How do you feel that the SFCA will contribute to the SDP? OJ confirmed this is very early days in the development of the SFCA, to make sure it is deliverable, and the relationship with the SDP remains to be developed.
MB noted that the Committee identified at an early stage, via the Plan for Wales, that some growth centres have significant flood risk. Is the purpose of the SFCA to look at how these can move forward and the conclusions? GB confirmed the SFCA has been helpful in supporting much wider understanding and implications of these policies, the level 2 assessment will probably do more in crafting their role.
JF confirmed there will be an opportunity to feed into the SDP manual via a formal consultation.
MB said he applauds the local authorities in South East Wales for acting jointly and asked if there is now a process to consider the SFCA content from a local perspective. OB confirmed, the approval process for the SFCA would be via the Local Development Plan for each local authority.
JF asked if there was scope for equality and safety to be considered? OJ confirmed its not currently part of the SFCA, but may come into the residual risks, however not currently a consideration.
JP noted that the SFCA process needs to secure effective planning and true resilience; we need to get to the bigger picture which helps us achieve this across the whole of Wales.
MB noted that river catchment boundaries and the interface with other SFCAs may need future consideration.
7.2 Park Lane Flood Alleviation Scheme, Aberdare – Owen Griffiths, Flood Water and Tip Risk Manager, Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC.
OG provided a presentation outlining the scheme.
He provided a detailed overview of their scheme, evidencing the reduced downstream peak discharge. The design had been created to accommodate future adaptation requirements, and to cope with a changing climate. The Scheme is part of a park converted into a wetland, with a much wider meandering channel and with telemetry equipment to record the storge basin activity. This Scheme has also brought about much wider vegetation development, and ecological and biodiversity benefits to the community.
DT asked what feedback the wild and natural vegetation had received, when wilding areas are often classed as looking scruffy, and what was the history to as to why culverting through the recreation space had originally been chosen? OG - in general no issues with using a recreation space as we worked with the community to find a resolution; wilding may have enhanced the area as previously the land was barren, and this project has upgraded the land to bring wider benefits.
JP praised the scheme and felt there should be more of this, as often these schemes are reactive. Questioned wither RCT were looking to do similar and commented on the potential to do more collaboratively with Water Boards, as an example. OG confirmed RCT were looking at a more proactive approach for future schemes, including wider green space development. They are also working on developing opportunity mapping to recognise appropriate areas.
NH asked if during design it was tested for larger flooding events? OG confirmed this has been done, and the scheme also has scope to be further enhanced if necessary to keep in line with climate change.
MB commented on recent communication with Kate Kipling whose report had praised our small-scale grants system in Wales, citing it as an example of good practice and scaling the grant application process to the scheme.
8. Welsh Government Property Flood Resilience Policy Review – Bethlyn Jones, JBA Consulting, and Sara Taylor, Water Floods and Coal Tips Division, Welsh Government
ST and BJ presented on the review of Property Flood Resilience (PFR) linked with the National Strategy to try and improve processes and best practice.
DH asked what are the insurance industry doing? BJ explained that ABI were bringing in building back better; this is related to properties that have flooded, making them more resilient to future events.
JFD asked how the installation by private companies was going to be governed; was there scope for training to ensure companies are suitably qualified? BJ confirmed EA do prioritise Kite marked products, with the intention of possibly a managed framework of suppliers and consideration of how PFR would be resourced if homeowners were given the opportunity to apply.
MB requested that the interim report be shared, and asked if this is leading to a policy review, how would that be consulted on with wider stakeholders?
ACTION – ST to share report and provide information on future consultation.
9.1 Policy and Legislation Sub-Committee (PLSC) - To receive the Final Report and the minutes of its meeting held on 14th June 2022.
AS, Sub-Committee Chair, thanked PLSC members for the substantial piece of work represented by the Final Report, which was prepared in a very technical environment and would support wider understanding of long-term issues. The report represents the opinions of the Committee and reflects the views of stakeholders. It is not definitive research into policy, it focuses on certain areas, and neither is it a review of every element of legislation. The report outlines 10 proposals or recommendations for review.
JP asked what further work had been undertaken with the Law Commission (LC). MB shared a written response received from the LC: In April 2022 the Commission decided to extend the timetable for finalising the 14th Programme in order to retain flexibility to respond to law reform needs. That remains the current position and so, yet, there is no timetable in place for finalising the programme. There is currently no LC deadline for decisions about potential work on flooding / costal erosion.
In the meantime, the LC continue to have useful ongoing dialogue with both Welsh Government (WG) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). They met with DEFRA in May and with WG in July. They are currently waiting to progress their own workstreams and report back.
MB added it would be number of years before legislative change will be achieved. It will be of equal value to look at the policy issues that we can change now. He noted that the Final Report has been shared with the LC and can now be shared with DEFRA. This report delivers on a key measure in the National Strategy and contributes to the wider objectives.
The Final Report was approved, and the minutes were noted.
ACTION – LND to share report with DEFRA
9.2 Resources Sub-Committee - To receive the minutes of meetings held on 21st June and 6th September 2022.
MB reported that, since the September meeting, WG have asked the Sub-Committee to develop the report further, and this will be considered at its next meeting.
DT requested that the Committee note the need to be aware of resource capacity becoming a significant issue and concern. MB agreed skills and capacity have been recognised as a key priority in the review, noting that there are some workstreams already in progress, where there may be some quick wins.
AS mentioned that RCT recently went through a recruitment process to bring in apprentices. However, there are no college courses to support their further education, and that the only channel available now is via a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ).
MB reported that KP has been investigating opportunities through the Open University as an example, linking into broader environmental qualifications to support wider apprentice employment.
JP agreed with the concern and suggested that dedicated resources would be needed to take this forward. MB suggested this may need involvement by WG.
Minutes of the meetings were noted.
9.3 Wales Coastal Groups Forum update – David Harris.
DH presented the report and provided an update following his attendance at the latest Costal Group Forum meeting:
- Revised Terms of Reference were approved.
- Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) action plans annual update to be issued to the Minister by October 2022, looking in more detail at reducing complete tasks and adding anything new.
- The Severn Estuary Group have secured additional resource to assist Coastal Group / wider coastal work within the Wales Coastal Monitoring Centre (WCMC) work programme.
- WCMC funding has been increased to allow much wider work comparable with what England are achieving. WCMC are considering the problematic data areas by utilising drones; its education programme has gone from strength to strength.
- The Coastal Loss Innovative Funding and Financing (CLIFF) project, which is looking at ways of supporting adaptation, has published an initial report, with a further report under preparation.
- The Forum has commissioned a Climate Change on the Coast video supporting better community engagement.
JFD updated on the video being created to support the measures in the SMPs, raising awareness. The work had been commissioned to share national concerns and raise SMP awareness and investment. The video will be utilised by the WLGA and by the coastal groups. There is a lack of understanding of what adaptation means and much more work to be achieved in better communicating.
Coastal Adaptation Guidance - LND provided an update on work being undertaken to review the suggested amendments prior to being shared again with stakeholders.
9.4 TAN 15 Update – Jonathan Fudge, Planning Directorate, Welsh Government.
JF provided a presentation detailing what happens next, further embedding the need to consider climate change and protection of at least 45k homes into all programme for government priorities.
Current discussions involve much joint working considering climate change and focusing on how TAN 15 and the National Flood Strategy are working in unison. The old TAN also set out concerns about building in flood risk areas, however, this did not sufficiently reduce the amount of building that occurred. The new policy must be stricter about building in high-risk areas for homes, schools, and hospitals. The science that underpinned the maps is a central estimate which also allows for 6-month updates enabling any minor changes if required.
The new TAN 15 is paused until next June, with the existing TAN remaining in place.
WG is aware of the concerns for options for redevelopment, specifically in town centres. WG has a town centre first policy and there is a tension between the two policies, with planning systems been tasked with adjudicating. Advice on any amendments is likely to go to Minister this Autumn with an expected further consultation on the specific proposed changes. There is limited time to do this work, with a firm commitment that the replacement TAN will be introduced next June.
OJ - very positive outcome in hearing that our wider concerns are being considered. JF responded saying the consultation events that have been held have been particularly helpful, in appreciating that there will be challenges, however we must find the right balance.
AS commented on the Flood Map for Planning (FMfP) being the best available data map, however there is some confusion about how those maps are to be used. JF confirmed no further guidance or policy has been issued, the legal position is that the old TAN remains in force. However, the FMfP cannot be disregarded, and it would be very short-sighted to do so.
JP said that he appreciates the tension that exists between the new TAN and development interests, but strongly feels that planning systems must recognise flood risk concerns, and that finding the right balance must consider that we cannot put people at risk.
NH questioned how the new TAN would be launched. JF confirmed it would probably be a hard launch, with all authorities needing to be tooled up ready. NH asked how applications that have gone to planning prior to the new TAN coming into force would be dealt with. JF advised that any applicant should be using the FMfP now, albeit there is not policy at present. WG would welcome further opinions, and these can be put forward in the next focused consultation.
MB - some of the representations suggested the bar was set too high, but it was set at the level it is for good reason, and it reflects the advice of this Committee. Stakeholders would be very poorly advised if they are not paying attention to the maps, neither would it be in the interests of their communities.
9.5 Committee Work Programme - to receive the report of the Chair on the roll forward of the Work Programme, and to consider the recommendation that the updated Work Programme be approved
MB reiterated a few points as contained in the version circulated to all members, with tracked changes marked for easy appreciation of the modifications.
On Theme 7, which focuses on wider legislation and associated policy, the Committee was advised that the WG Climate Change Team have commissioned a review of local authority climate change work.
Action – LND to secure further information on this review and circulate to Committee members.
On Theme 10, MB noted that the Work Programme now needed further updating to reflect recent consultation responses.
On Theme 12 which focuses on Section 19 reports, it was noted that a detailed programme remained to be agreed, and that this would need to tie in with the independent review of these reports which was now part of the Programme for Government.
Action – LND to secure further information on the process and timescales for the independent review.
The Recommendation was agreed.
9.6 Natural Resources Wales Annual Report and Flood Risk Management Plan – Jeremy Parr, and Ross Akers, Manager, Flood Risk Strategic Planning and Investment.
JP introduced the Annual Report, and RA presented on the Flood Risk Management Plan (FRMP). This included a reminder of the key drivers of the duty to publish the 2nd cycle, identifying the risks and producing an appropriate plan. This is heavily assessed via the National Risk Hazard Map aligning with the CARR. His presentation included:
- A brief explanation on difference between now and the last cycle published in 2015, and what has changed. Having learnt from previous work, NRW will go out to consultation as a single publication.
- The documents contain future and present-day flood risk metrics and statistics, an overview of historical flooding, and a review of the progress against the first cycle of the plan.
- There are no cross-border flood risk areas which has enabled changes in methodology to more widely involve RMAs in Wales.
- Full external consultation will occur mid-October, a 12-week window; due to flooding events and the pandemic, we are officially one year behind.
- The next Section 18 Report would be published at the end of 2023 – a pragmatic decision to support wider resource issues.
Questions and points made:
AS - good to see that the envisaged template is compatible with what LAs are proposing in their combined Local Strategies.
NH - it would be good to have the CARR published in a more interactive way. RA confirmed there is a commitment to take this forward.
JFD – the proposed format aligns well with what we are trying to accomplish in our joint Local Strategies and FRMPs.
RA advised that all schemes are published on Data Map Wales for quick access to the necessary data. NRW recognise it may be quite difficult to have one document which is also accessible for the public but considered that it is pitched at an appropriate level.
MB asked how the wider private assets will be captured, and how does the work with FRMP interface with water companies? RA confirmed that capturing wider data is an ambition but getting there will be a long-term process.
10. A resolution to exclude members of the public where publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be discussed
This was agreed.
11. Long Term Investment Requirements - Jeremy Parr, Ross Akers, and Dafydd Sidgwick, Lead Specialist Advisor, Flood Risk Strategic Planning and Investment
The presentation was noted.
12. A Picture of Flood Risk Management in Wales - Verity Winn, Performance Audit Lead and Seth Newman, Senior Auditor, Audit Wales
The presentation was noted.
ACTION - LND to distribute the report once published.
13. Any other business previously notified to the Chair