Julie Morgan AM for Cardiff North
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Julie Morgan AM for Cardiff North

Flooding update from Julie Morgan MS and Anna McMorrin MP

Whitchurch Flooding Update sent to affected residents, February 16, 2021

Dear Resident,

We are writing to you to update you on our most recent meeting with National Resources for Wales and Transport for Wales.

We know that the storms and heavy rain last month were an unwelcome reminder of the flooding that some of you went through last year and continues to be a worrying time. As you know, we have been regularly meeting with NRW and representatives of flood-hit local residents since the flooding last year to ensure appropriate measures are taken to prevent any future flooding. Here's a summary of what we have been calling for and what steps have been agreed. 

Silt build-up under railway arches:

The significant build-up of silt under the railway arches may have contributed to the flooding in February. We have been calling for urgent works to be undertaken and for the silt-build up to be removed. We met with the Head of Transport for Wales who has responsibility for maintaining the arches and we are pleased they have now commissioned a site investigation and study to evaluate the impact of silt build-up and risks of any interventions at this site for e.g. on environment and ecology. TfW has committed to carrying out these works if the study demonstrates removing the silt will be beneficial, even if that benefit is only marginal. In our meeting we were advised the study is expected to be completed by the end of February. TfW has also committed to working collaboratively with NRW to resolve this as swiftly as possible for residents.

Here's TfW's letter in response to our calls to remove the silt build up:

Feeder and canal concerns:

Residents have raised concerns about the erosion of the feeder and the canal and have called for this to be looked at urgently to help prevent future flooding. We understand that Cardiff Council are taking steps to secure funding for repair works to the canal and we will invite Cardiff Council to our next meeting for a fuller update on this.

As well as the proactive and preventative work we’re calling for in the interim, NRW are also conducting a wider piece of work looking at all causes of flooding along the River Taff. This work is expected to conclude towards the end of the financial year and will provide the basis for future flood prevention measures. We have called for a joined-up approach between all stakeholders involved and we remain committed to getting to the bottom of the root causes so that we can ensure the right measures are in place to prevent future flooding.

You can find a more comprehensive update on the meeting below. We’d like to thank National Resources for Wales and Transport for Wales for their continued efforts to engage with local residents and address their concerns during this very distressing time. We will continue to work with the local community and stakeholders to ensure we achieve a positive outcome.

With very best wishes,


Flooding Meeting-22nd January 2021

Key Discussion points:

Silt removal:

  •  Julie and Anna met with James Price, CEO of Transport for Wales (TfW), where it was agreed that representatives from TfW would come along to this meeting.
  • TfW has committed to working with NRW to look at the possible impact of the silt under both of the railway arches on recent flooding. The site has already been inspected on a few occasions and TfW are now in the process of gathering evidence to inform next steps.
  •  A study has been commissioned by TfW, working with Mott MacDonald, to look at the benefit and risks associated with removing the silt under the railway arches.  The outcome of this study is expected by the end of February with a view to remove the silt even if the benefit is only marginal. TfW has committed to passing on the personal experiences of the residents at the meeting to Mott Macdonald to make them aware of local views.
  • The boulders by the railway bridge will also be looked at as removal could help conveyance in the area. NRW are happy to remove boulders if needed and will work closely with TfW on this.
  • Julie and Anna will continue to have meetings with the CEO of TfW and also the head of NRW to continue the joined-up working and to ensure that any results of investigations/surveys can be acted upon.

Sluice gates

  • The gates are operated by Forest Farm wardens and there are concerns about their condition and age.  NRW understand that only one gate is open at a time and the gates are alternated to keep equal wear and tear on them.  Despite their age, they are well maintained. 
  • NRW believe that the water that caused the flooding last February came from the river Taff.  It is expected that the forthcoming modelling report will show this. 

NRW modelling report

  • This will show where the low points are along the river and where the water is over-topping.  This information will be used to inform a project appraisal going forward.  
  • Any increase in flood banks has to go through due process, and any work done to reduce flood risk will have to be prioritised due to demands on public money and also the impact it may have on flooding in other areas.  NRW wants to make sure that there are no adverse effects caused by raising or installing flood defences.
  • Anna and Julie impressed the importance of finding out the cause of February's flooding so that they can ensure the right measures with the right agencies are put in place to prevent future flooding as a matter of urgency.

Impact of reservoirs

  • Letters received from Welsh Water previously show that there was no change to the operation of the reservoirs before or during the storms.
  • NRW has spoken to the Director of Welsh Water.  To pre-empty the reservoirs ahead of storms, Welsh Water would need several days’ notice so that water can be released without causing problems down-stream.  There isn’t enough real-time knowledge to say for certain exactly where rain will fall in these types of storms, so to make any type of impact, Welsh Water would need to start the process of emptying three to four days before a storm warning is issued.

Water Tanks- Clos Ty Clyd 

  • NRW contacted Welsh Water and Cardiff Council regarding the water tanks under Clos Ty Clyd - both advised that they do not have any apparatus of this nature in the area. There is a surface water pumping station located on Clos Ty Clyd but no tanks.
  • NRW, Cardiff Council and Welsh Water are not aware of, and do not operate, any tanks underneath Clos Ty Clyd.
  • Welsh Water has reassured residents that the pumping station has telemetry installed which allows the site to be monitored 24/7, if the pumps were to fail, this would trigger a central alarm and a technician would be instructed to attend site and investigate. After reviewing the trends in our telemetry system the pump well levels have not risen above 48% over the last 12 months.

    Flood warnings

  • NRW are continuously updating the flood warning systems as and when required.
  • Since last February, some changes have been made to the processes that are used as a result of Anna and Julie's calls. Priority is given to new flood warnings instead of updating existing flood warnings and more staff are on standby so that the system doesn’t become overwhelmed.

Actions:

  • NRW will continue discussions on the maintenance of the banks of the feeder.
  • Julie and Anna will invite Cardiff Council to the next meeting.
  • Julie and Anna will raise the drainage strategy with Velindre Trust and ask about their engagement with NRW throughout the development process. Some residents are concerned about whether surface water from the development would run into the canal causing additional pressure.
  • NRW will provide the data of the water levels in the feeder and Taff during the storms ASAP.
  • NRW will undertake site visit with local resident to look at flood defence by Cardiff Old Boys' Rugby Club with a commitment to address the issue quickly.
  • NRW will look into the banks of the feeder in terms of maintenance and will feed back and will raise debris at culvert with Cardiff Council.

If you have any questions or if there is anything further you'd like to discuss please do not hesitate to contact us.