This week I met Hannah Blythyn AM, Minister for Environment, and senior people from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to discuss the Roath Flood Defence Scheme. Other local elected representatives were also there.
The Minister and NRW are aware of the strength of feeling amongst local residents, particularly the removal of trees in Roath Brook Gardens and Roath Mill Gardens, and were happy to answer a number of specific points raised by elected representatives.
It was agreed that no-one wants to remove trees in green spaces, but that looking at the overall scheme it is unavoidable that some trees will have to be removed (and subsequently replaced) in order to deliver the planned flood defences.
During their consultation, the NRW team have listened local residents and negotiated to amend the plans where possible to retain particular trees. Three additional trees have been retained following these latest consultations.
In the initial stages of looking at options for the scheme, it was recognised that the parks’ location within a conservation area was important. NRW has agreed that it would, therefore, be inappropriate to embark on any works which would require the park perimeter to be altered and have an impact on the exterior appearance. For this reason plans were amended to contain the works inside the perimeter of the parks and focus on the flow and capacity of the brook itself.
Some people have asked whether it’s possible to re-calculate the flood risk to the properties covered by ‘Phase 3’ of the works in order to consider amending the works. NRW have explained that the works are a community-level package based on the overall risk to Penylan and would not be calculated at street-by-street level.
This is the same way that risks are calculated and schemes planned across Wales – the programme is considered on a community basis, not in small segments.
The phases are purely operational, with the works only being completed in three parts in order to minimise local area disruption (this was a condition of planning permission being granted). The scheme is always considered as a whole.
Pausing the Works for Further Consideration
Some of the works have been delayed due to the various conversations and discussions between the Welsh Government, NRW and the local community. This has allowed time for further information to be considered but NRW say they have not been given any compelling information which would lead to any alternative options being more viable than the strategy currently in place.
The tree felling work need to be completed before bird nesting season (in March) and it is therefore important for NRW to continue with the works as soon as possible. If they were delayed any further it would push the works into another financial year, extend disruption and further increase costs. If the costs of this scheme increase that means communities elsewhere in Wales may lose out on important flood protection works.
Wildlife and Ecology
Ecological surveys were completed at the start of the works, and an additional survey is due to be completed in February 2018 for the ‘Phase 3’ area (this is best practice, rather than a requirement). NRW confirmed that the scheduling of works takes into account bird nesting season in the trees, and that the re-designed park and brook will offer an improved habitat for eg water voles which are not in evidence from surveys that have been done to date.
Jenny Rathbone AM and Jo Stevens MP