Wales storm: Minister Alun Davies orders 'swift' flood defence review

Aberystwyth lifeboat reaches the 21-year-old man taking photos on the jetty
Image caption Aberystwyth lifeboat reaches the 21-year-old man taking photos on the jetty

A review of coastal flood defences and the impact of recent storms has been ordered by the Welsh government.

Minister for Natural Resources Alun Davies visited the clear-up operation in Aberystwyth, where the promenade was damaged in Friday's high tides.

He wants a "swift review" from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to "prioritise repair work and see what lessons we can learn".

It comes with more heavy rain and strong winds moving in.

Mr Davies said it was impossible to totally prevent flooding but work was being done to build resilience on the coast.

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Media captionMinister Alun Davies said he was 'shocked to the core' by flood damage at Aberystwyth

He added: "Our coastal flood defences have been severely tested by these storms and it is vital to look at how our sea defences have managed to stand up to the power of the recent storms.

"That is why I have asked NRW to carry out this swift review with the immediate priority being to identify and assess any damage caused so that we can prioritise repair work and see what lessons we can learn to be well prepared for future severe weather.

"Particularly given that these events are forecast to become more frequent as a result of climate change."

More heavy rain and strong winds are moving in on Sunday.

NRW is urging people near the Wales coast to remain vigilant as strong winds are forecast overnight into Monday.

South-westerly winds are set to strengthen Sunday evening and by early Monday morning wind gusts of around 60mph are expected on the coasts of Cardigan Bay, Caernarfon Bay, Carmarthen Bay, and Swansea Bay.

This is likely to have an impact on the tides during Monday morning, generating very large waves.

"Although conditions are not predicted to be as bad as on Friday, the combination of strong winds and high tides will still make the coast a dangerous place to be," a NRW spokesman said.

"Natural Resources Wales is advising people to avoid going close to sea fronts as conditions continue to be dangerous, especially as they could be damaged by the recent storm."

Meanwhile NRW officers have been out checking flood defences and repairing damage so they are robust as can be.

There was only one flood warning in place at 18:20 GMT on Sunday for the Lower Dee Valley.

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Media captionThis storm surge at Llantwit Major in the Vale of Glamorgan was posted on YouTube

Arriva Trains Wales services between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth, Llanelli and Carmarthen, and Llandudno Junction to Blaenau Ffestiniog, were disrupted on Sunday due to flooding.

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for Wales, saying up to 15mm of rain is likely across southern areas with locally in excess of 30mm possible over some higher ground.

It also warns of winds of around 60mph on the coast and 70mph locally on Monday, with large waves bringing the risk of coastal flooding.

"The public should be aware of the dangers of waves crashing onshore and over topping shore lines and sea fronts," said a spokesman.

High winds have led to a lane being closed on the M48 Severn Bridge and the A487 at Newgale in Pembrokeshire is still closed due to flooding.

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Media captionThe Aberystwyth lifeboat was launched to rescue a man taking photos of waves on a jetty

Meanwhile coastguards and the RNLI are warning people to stay away from the coast after a 21-year-old man, believed to be a first year student, had to be rescued by lifeboat.

He became stranded while taking photographs of waves at the end of a wooden jetty in Aberystwyth on Saturday.

'Dangers posed'

The man became trapped causing several worried onlookers to dial 999.

Police and coastguard teams were unable to reach him and he was eventually pulled to safety by an RNLI volunteer who escorted him down a ladder and into the lifeboat.

A spokesperson for Aberystwyth RNLI said: "Whilst the extreme sea conditions are attracting people to the coastline, we repeat our warning to the public stay safe and to keep away from the shore line and dangerous waves.

"This incident highlights the dangers posed not only to the man taking photos, but also the danger that our volunteer crew members and other emergency services have been placed in rescuing this man."

Image caption Storm damage at Aberystwyth

There had been an ice warning overnight and early on Sunday and the A4067 was closed for a time after an accident involving a vehicle near the Glais roundabout in Swansea.

The main road into Newgale in Pembrokeshire is still flooded.

Bruce Sanderson, who runs Sands Café in the village, is open for business despite the bad weather.

While sandbags appear to be keeping the water at bay in the cafe, his surf shop next door has not been so lucky and was breached by 1ft of water.

But Mr Sanderson is looking on the bright side.

"We have sold more hot chocolate than we sold all through Christmas to people coming to watch the waves. We are trying to make a bit of money out of the mayhem," he told BBC Wales.

"We rely on tourists whether they come to see the devastation or they come to sit on the beach in the summer."

Mr Sanderson said bottles, wooden pallets and fishing nets were left strewn across the beach by the high tide, while benches and bins have also been thrown about.

At the height of the tide on Friday, NRW had issued almost 23,000 warnings and alerts to properties across Wales.

The clean-up is continuing in Aberystwyth, with debris left strewn along the promenade after Friday's high tides.

Meanwhile, students were advised not to return to Aberystwyth University this weekend, with exams postponed for a week.

Rebecca Davies, pro vice-chancellor, said about 120 students had been evacuated from seafront residences in the town.

She said waves had "pretty much washed away" big sections of the promenade.

"Our accommodation is basically now acting almost as the sea wall," she said.

"They were all the houses which were on the seafront."

Parts of north-west Wales were also badly affected on Friday with RNLI crews called to rescues at a caravan park in Pwllheli, and to a farmhouse at Llanbedr near Barmouth.

There will be full coverage of disruption from the stormy weather and flooding on BBC Wales online, via Twitter @BBCWalesNews, on Wales Today bulletins on BBC One Wales and on BBC Radio Wales from 06:00 GMT on Monday.

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