'Lack of leadership' in government coastal flooding plan

Rhyl Image copyright Stuart Williams
Image caption 400 people had to leave their homes when the north Wales coast was flooded in 2013

There is a "distinct lack of leadership" in the Welsh Government's approach to coastal flooding, a national assembly committee has said.

A report by the public accounts committee said it had "grave concerns" about elements of Wales' plan to tackle the problem.

The committee also wants the pace of progress to increase.

The Welsh Government said it "strongly disagrees" with parts of the report.

Coastal flooding and erosion in Wales comes under the remit of several bodies, including Natural Resources Wales, local authorities and water companies and other organisations such as the National Trust, Network Rail and the Crown Estate.

The report said all of them should be part of an "overarching national strategy" produced by the Welsh Government.

Committee chairman Nick Ramsay, Conservative AM for Monmouth, said: "While there are many excellent people delivering on the ground, and a very resilient spirit amongst those faced with the worst of these problems, this does not excuse the lack of direction and leadership provided to date.

"To ensure that the necessary decisions around managed realignment and risk management are taken, it is essential that leadership is provided."

Image caption Sea defences at Fairbourne, Gwynedd, will only be maintained for another 40 years

The report also highlights the issue of managed retreat, where it is determined that land should be sacrificed and the coastal line redrawn.

The committee said the Welsh Government had shown a "lack of progress in planning" at Fairbourne, Gwynedd, where managed retreat has been deemed necessary.

Mr Ramsay added: "We want to see the government set out a range of options for managed retreat which doesn't take a 'one size fits all' approach, which gives consideration to other British and international examples, and which considers what is needed to communicate effectively with communities at risk."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "We are aware of this report from the public accounts committee. We do, however, strongly disagree with some of the report's reflections.

"We will consider the report and its recommendations in detail and the cabinet secretary will provide a formal response in due course"

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