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Greater urgency needed to deal with the challenges facing flood risk management

15 December 2022
  • Difficult decisions ahead on managing the risk of flooding in local communities

    Climate change, the associated costs of flooding and workforce capacity are some of the key challenges facing the flooding sector.

    In recent years, Wales has experienced the devastating impacts of flooding and, despite continued investment, flooding continues to be a big risk to the country. With extreme weather events likely to become more frequent, our report looks at how flood risk management works in Wales and key issues for the sector.

    Climate change is increasing the risks and associated costs of flooding. Rising sea levels and higher levels of rainfall are increasing the chances of flooding happening. The events of February 2020 and storms Ciara and Dennis are a stark reminder of the impact of extreme weather, with 3,130 properties in Wales known to have flooded.

    There are substantial costs associated with managing flood risk. In 2021-22, the Welsh Government provided £59.6 million of funding for flood risk management. Significant long-term investment will be needed to tackle the increasing risks associated with climate change and flooding, while inflation will put pressure on existing budgets. Tough decisions will need to be taken about how to prioritise finite resources.

    The most immediate priority for the flooding sector is increasing workforce capacity. The current workforce is under pressure, and without additional workforce capacity in the right areas it will be difficult to address the challenges facing the sector. Flood risk management is a specialist area, requiring broad skills which are hard to find.

    Our report also identifies several other key issues impacting flood risk management in Wales:

    • There are gaps in collective leadership and policy integration.
    • There are gaps in flood risk data and the risks themselves keep changing with climate change.
    • Building development in high flood risk areas could be exposing households and businesses to avoidable flood risk.
    We have seen the terrible impact of flooding on our communities and the economy and climate change means this is likely to happen more frequently. The issues are not new. Our previous audit work and other reviews have highlighted the need for action in long-term planning, adapting to climate change and building workforce capacity. Despite some positive developments, there are serious questions about whether public services can keep pace with the increasing risks and challenges associated with flooding. Adrian Crompton, Auditor General

    Related Report

    A Picture of Flood Risk Management

    View more