200,000 homes at risk of flooding, says Wales Audit Office

Fairbourne in Gwynedd
Image caption Sea defences protecting coastal homes in Fairbourne will only be maintained for 40 more years

About 208,000 properties across Wales are at risk of flooding from the sea or rivers, a report by the public spending watchdog has found.

The Wales Audit Office report examined the Welsh Government's performance in tackling the issues since 2011.

It said investment had improved coastal protection but more needed to be done to "plan for the long term".

The Welsh Government said it was "committed to actively reducing future risks".

In 2011, the Welsh Government published its national flood strategy and coastal erosion risk management along with four shoreline management plans.

The Wales Audit Office said the Welsh Government has since made progress and has allocated £120m to coastal projects - including £25m from European Union funds.

But it said severe coastal flooding in the winter of 2013-14 highlighted "the vulnerability to flooding and erosion of some coastal communities, business and infrastructure".

'Risk management'

This flooding has given "fresh impetus" to protect areas at risk, the report said.

It also raised concerns that no firm funding plans for capital investment are in place beyond 2020-21 when the coastal risk management programme ends.

In Fairbourne, Gwynedd, sea defences protecting coastal homes in the village are only being maintained for 40 more years.

This has led villagers to threaten legal action.

The report acknowledged that the Welsh Government had pledged a new £150m programme from 2018-19 to 2020-21 to deliver projects in line with its shoreline management plan.

Auditor general Huw Vaughan Thomas said: "Coastal flood and erosion risk management is a serious concern for many in Wales and the Welsh Government has taken some positive steps to improve safety.

"However, with climate changes, the scale of the challenge ahead is considerable and needs both significant investment over the long term and for the Welsh Government and its partners to provide more support and leadership to communities that are already directly threatened by these risks."

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: "We invested £240m in flood and coastal erosion risk management over the life of the last government and have committed to investing almost £55m in flood defences this year, which will protect homes, businesses and motorists across Wales."

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