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Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change

First published:
9 January 2024
Last updated:

The Christmas and New Year period saw the latest named storms to affect Wales and the wider UK this winter season; Storm Gerrit (27-28 December) and Storm Henk (1-2 January).  During Storm Gerrit the Met Office issued Yellow warnings for both heavy rain and strong winds over much of Wales, and further Yellow warnings for strong winds and heavy rain on 30 December. Meanwhile Storm Henk similarly affected large parts of Wales, particularly South and Mid Wales with heavy rainfall over already saturated ground. Natural Resources Wales’s (NRW) forecasting and warning services for main rivers and the sea were also active throughout the festive period. During Storm Henk NRW issued 1 Severe Flood Warning for the River Ritec at Kiln Park Tenby, and a total of 30 Flood Warnings and 40 Flood Alerts across Wales.

The storms also resulted in some transport disruption due to surface water flooding, with Traffic Wales implementing its adverse weather strategy communications plan. Its trunk road agents also undertook patrols and ensured local diversions were sign posted where the Strategic Road Network was flooded (A483 in Builth Wells and A4042 in Llanellen near Abergavenny).

I remain aware of how devastating the impacts of flooding can be – on homes, livelihoods and lives. I offer my heartfelt sympathies to those who have been affected by recent flood events following Storms Gerrit and Henk. The full detail of impacts on communities in Wales is still emerging and officials are in contact with LAs across Wales about both storms, as is usual after such events. As of 9 January, current indications from local authorities suggest 37 properties have been flooded internally in Caerphilly (4), Carmarthenshire (23, predominantly in Ferryside and Llansteffan plus 1 business property), Monmouthshire (2) Pembrokeshire (3), Powys (1), Rhondda Cynon Taf (1) and Torfaen (2). Officials will continue to receive further information over the coming days and weeks. 

Meanwhile, although several rivers reached flood warning levels and many watercourses were out of bank, NRW have indicated that its network of flood defences prevented flooding in many areas, with 73,000 properties benefiting from these defences. I am grateful to colleagues in NRW, local authorities, emergency services and many others who worked tirelessly over the festive period to minimise the impacts on communities where possible. Throughout both storms, officials and NRW also worked very closely with Local Resilience Forums and counterparts in UK Government to ensure a co-ordinated response. 

This winter season again demonstrates that with the changing climate, we face longer, heavier bouts of rain on a regular basis. As I have previously stated both in the Senedd and beyond, we know it is impossible to stop or prevent all flooding, but we can and are indeed taking steps to reduce the consequences and help to create more resilience across Wales. This financial year we have allocated over £75m in Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management in Wales, the highest ever annual spend on flood risk management in Wales to date.

We must all be ready to deal with more frequent and severe flood events. Preparedness is critical. NRW has practical guidance on what to do before, during and after a flood which I recently shared in November following Storms Babet and Ciarán. I continue to urge you and your constituents to make use of this support.