North East Wales

Wales floods: Tough scrutiny pledge as Prince Charles visits

The Glasdir estate in Ruthin was overwhelmed by the River Clwyd
Image caption The Glasdir estate in Ruthin was overwhelmed by the River Clwyd

Any plans to build in flood areas in Wales in future will face stricter scrutiny in the future, a minister has promised.

Environment Minister John Griffiths's comments follow devastating floods on Ruthin's Glasdir development last week.

He said any new proposals involving a flood risk must now be referred back to the Welsh government.

The minister spoke before Prince Charles arrived for a visit in flood-hit St Asaph in Denbighshire.

Mr Griffiths's statements came during an interview with Huw Edwards for BBC Wales' The Wales Report, broadcast on Sunday night.

"There's a much more hands-on approach from Welsh government," he told the programme.

"We now have a system in place that wherever housing is proposed in flood risk areas it has to be referred to the Welsh government to consider whether it needs to be called in, so we now take a much more strong line to make sure that only appropriate development takes place."

The minister said that under current rules, developments like Glasdir would have been considered with a "highly precautionary approach".

"It would be referred to us now under this new direction brought in this summer," he said.

"Obviously flood risk is a very serious risk for communities as we've seen last week and over the summer, so it is a very precautionary approach and I think that must be right," he added.

Flood inquiry

The Environment Agency is already investigating how water from the river Clwyd breached flood defences built on the Glasdir site.

Those defences - a flood bund, or mound - had been put in place as part of original outline planning permission granted to the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) by Denbighshire council.

The functions of the WDA were later taken over by the Welsh government, who sold the site to the builder Taylor Wimpey North West.

The house builder said last week: "We too were reassured that the flood defences, which were designed and implemented prior to our ownership of the site, would serve their purpose.

"We fully understand our customers' concerns and expect a full investigation with all the key authorities involved to take place to identify why the flood defence system did not stop the site from flooding."

Prince Charles is seeing for himself how badly parts of the county were hit during his to St Asaph on Monday.

Image caption Prince Charles was last in St Asaph in July on his annual tour of Wales

More than 400 properties in the city were submerged when the River Elwy burst its banks last Tuesday.

The prince is speaking to residents of Roe Park, which was one of the worst affected parts of the city, and will be given the chance to see inside one of the flood-hit homes.

He is also meeting emergency teams at St Asaph's fire station, which became a hub for rescue and recovery operations on Tuesday at the height of the incidents.

He will then meet volunteers, school children and local dignitaries at the city's cathedral.

It is the second time the prince has been to the city in five months, after visiting in July to celebrate St Asaph's new city status, which was awarded as part of The Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations.

A statement from Clarence House said the prince was "keen to thank the emergency services and lend his support to some of the residents affected".

On Sunday, prayers were also said in the cathedral and at St Asaph's parish church for the flooding victims, including 91-year-old Margaret Jane Hughes who was found dead in her flooded home on Tuesday.

An inquest was opened last week and John Gittins, the acting coroner for north Wales central, heard that the provisional cause of death was drowning.

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