North East Wales

Glasdir flooding: Denbighshire council pledges independent inquiry

Flooding at Glasdir estate, Ruthin, Denbighshire, November 2012
Image caption More than 100 homes were affected on the Glasdir estate in Ruthin

Denbighshire council is to launch a three-month long inquiry into flooding on a Ruthin housing development.

It follows an Environment Agency report that pinpointed blocked culverts as part of the problem at the Glasdir estate.

More than a hundred homes were engulfed when the River Clwyd breached defences on the newly-built estate in November.

The council has said it welcomed the report, and will now order a detailed and independent investigation.

"We want to understand this in more detail," said Denbighshire council's corporate director, Hywyn Williams.

"We are not disputing that the report points us in the right direction. Clearly, this report has been compiled in about two weeks, which is a good thing.

"I don't think we can have all the answers to the level we expect them to be in two weeks."

The Environment Agency report into the Glasdir flooding was published on Wednesday.

It said a combination of factors led to homes on the estate being submerged by the overflowing River Clwyd.

The report identified blocked culverts, ground gradients preventing flood drainage, factors surrounding the estate's link road, and heavily saturated ground as all contributing to the devastating damage.

Agency officials also said that modelling of the flooding suggested that it would have only had been so intense if five culverts on the estate had been 85% blocked.

Culverts 'not checked'

But Denbighshire council, which has responsibility for ensuring drainage culverts are kept cleared, has questioned whether that was the case at Glasdir.

"We don't believe they were blocked to that level, and there are images from the police helicopter and so on, of white water coming out of the culverts on the downstream end," said Mr Williams.

He said that suggested that the culverts on the estate were doing part of their job - "probably not to a 100% level admittedly - but they were performing to a certain level, which seems to suggest greater than 85%".

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Media captionHywyn Williams, corporate director at Denbighshire council, said they wanted more detailed analysis

But Mr Williams also admitted on Thursday that the five culverts serving the estate had not been checked for debris before the flooding.

"The structure of it is fine, but the maintenance around the culvert on the upstream side hadn't been inspected, as far as we can see, in recent weeks," he said.

"There wasn't a flood warning given to the Glasdir estate at that time. Other culverts were checked, as we do when we receive flood warnings. This is a dry culvert usually, and it wasn't checked as others were prior to the flooding itself."

The council said it was now in the process of commissioning its own report on the flooding in Ruthin, which officials said would be independent of the council.

The authority said it hoped the report would be published in about three months.

"Are the culverts sufficient? What about the contouring of the land? We want permanent answers to this, and this is what we hope the independent report will give us," Mr Williams added.

Commenting on the Environment Agency findings, a spokesperson for Taylor Wimpey North West, which built the Glasdir estate, said: "We have now reviewed the report and the initial findings indicate that the flooding was caused by an obstruction to the culverts, which were constructed as part of the relief road.

"In addition, the area which the culverts discharge to [to the north of the link road] was not able to cope with the volume of water due to land levels, intervening obstructions and the lack of a clear channel for the flood water to escape.

"As we are not responsible for and do not control the culverts or the land they discharge to, we will look to work with the relevant parties to establish what improvements can be made to reduce the likelihood of this occurring again."

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