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Section highlightHouses into homes This report details findings to emerge from the evaluation during the first six months of delivery (April to September 2012).
Written Statement - The Draft Control of Dogs (Wales) Bill »We are committed to ensuring that out-of-control and dangerous dogs are dealt with effectively.Learn more »
Minister tells NHS managers: "Listen to your staff and take action"
Health Minister Mark Drakeford has given a clear message to NHS managers to take action in response to the recent NHS Wales staff survey
- Minister supports International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
- Porth Eirias set to be major North Wales attraction
- Minister tells NHS managers: "Listen to your staff and take action"
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Section highlightAccess to information
The Welsh Government has followed the principles of openness in government for many years. Find out how you can make a freedom of information request or see requests that have already been made.
National minimum standards for regulated child care »These standards determine whether child minding and day care settings are providing adequate care for children under the age of 8.Learn more »
- Continuity and Change - Refreshing the Relationship between Welsh Government and the Third Sector in Wales
- Repealing air quality ‘Further Assessments’ from Part IV of the Environment Act 1995
- Equality Impact Assessment of the 2014-2020 Rural Development Plan for Wales
- Consultation on the Equality Impact Assessments for the 2014-2020 Structural Funds Programmes in Wales
- Development of a national standards and outcomes framework for Children and Young People's advocacy services in Wales
- Strategic Environmental Assessment: Environmental Report, Rural Development Plan for Wales 2014-2020
Featured consultation »Implementing the Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure 2011
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Section highlightFurther and Higher Education (Governance and Information) (Wales) Bill 2013
Removes a number of technical restrictions and controls on colleges without changing the principal powers of colleges to provide further, higher and secondary education.
Legislative programme 2012 - 2013 »
Addressing the Assembly in the Senedd today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, detailed the eight bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the second year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightCommunity Infrastructure Levy
Local authorities can charge a Community Infrastructure Levy on new developments to support the infrastructure needed.
2nd Supplementary Budget 2012-13 »
Proposes a number of changes to the 1st Supplementary Budget for 2012-13, which was published on 26 June 2012.Learn more »
Written - The Pitt Review – An assessment for Wales
Flooding is one of the most common natural hazards experienced by communities across Wales, often resulting in significant damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure, causing distress and even loss of life, with considerable costs to the environment and economy. Wales already faces significant flood and coastal risks with 170,000 homes at risk, together with commercial and industrial property and significant infrastructure. These risks are forecast to increase over the next century as a direct result of climate change.
Studies, including the Foresight: Future Flooding Study, have predicted increases in the volume and intensity of rainfall, rising sea levels, increased storminess and greater risks from surface water flooding. This will make more frequent flood events inevitable and continuing our current approach of constructing and maintaining more and higher hard defences is not a sustainable option. The need for change is evident and in recognition of this, I launched the New Approaches Programme in July 2007.
Since its launch we have seen the devastating floods in England in 2007. The UK Government commissioned Sir Michael Pitt to review the floods, the response and the risk management systems. The final report, published on 25 June 2008, contained 92 significant and wide ranging recommendations, building on the interim report published in December 2007. I undertook to consider the Review, and to assess its appropriateness for Wales.
The Review took evidence from a large number of organisations and individuals alike. Conclusions include:
- current legislation is not fit for today's challenges;
- greater mapping of flood risks must be undertaken;
- a wider range of intervention measures are needed to address flood risk;
- awareness of flood risk must be raised within communities;
- warning systems should be extended; and
- better planning is needed to enhance rescue and recovery.
These findings are consistent with the principles underpinning the New Approaches Programme and the work already underway in Wales. The Pitt review put considerable emphasis on four main principles:
- needs of individuals and communities;
- clarity of roles;
- strong leadership; and
- partnership working and sharing information
It is my intention that these principles be mainstreamed into Wales' future flood and coastal risk management systems and the New Approaches Programme will assist in ensuring that this happens.
The New Approaches Programme aims to facilitate the move from a defence dominated system to a more holistic risk management approach to flooding. It is a mechanism for facilitating change, requiring a strong commitment by all key stakeholders and delivery organisations across Wales to share in a drive to a more sustainable and adaptable delivery framework. This will be delivered through the establishment of new actions and measures to address the issue of risk and minimise the consequences of flooding incidents. We can never hope to eliminate flooding, but we can be better prepared to deal with the consequences.
Through this Programme we will bring together key stakeholders across Wales to influence behaviour, communicate change and reduce the impacts of flooding for Wales. It will encourage the use of a wide range of intervention measures alongside hard defences of our rivers and coast, raising awareness of the risks of flooding amongst our vulnerable communities and increasing their resilience to flood events.
In November I met Sir Michael Pitt to discuss the findings of his review, their general applicability to Wales and the proposed direction we are taking in Wales.
At that meeting we were very much agreed that the actions and initiatives we are driving forward in Wales are those which are important for addressing flood and coastal erosion risk issues.
My officials are now refreshing the New Approaches Programme in light of all the recent developments, including the Pitt Review and the EU Directive on the assessment and management of flood risk. A consultation on wider flood and coastal erosion risk management issues in Wales will be published in the New Year. The consultation will aim to address many significant issues, including clarifying the roles and responsibilities of key delivery organisations in Wales.
Implementation of many of the specific actions identified in Sir Michael Pitt's review is already underway. Significant progress has been made on surface water mapping, raising awareness of the vulnerability of critical infrastructure, sharing of information and partnership working and this was evident in our response to recent flood events which were more timely, better planned and more effective than in 2007. As part of our programme refresh we are working on the development of a delivery framework to be complete early in the new Year.
Many of the issues highlighted by the Pitt Review are being progressed through the Wales Resilience Forum which encourages and facilitates a multi-agency approach to planning for flooding and other emergencies. Chaired by the First Minister, the Wales Resilience Forum provides that strong leadership in Wales which Sir Michael emphasised was necessary.
In October I attended the Wales Resilience Forum to explain our new approach to addressing flood and coastal risk in Wales. and discuss the work being done on developing our resilience against flooding with senior representatives of those organisations charged with responding in emergency incidents. I am impressed by the progress being made, which is a testimony to the strong leadership and multi-agency co-operation being provided by the Wales Resilience Forum and the four Local Resilience Forums. But I appreciate that more needs to be done.
The Pitt Report made many recommendations designed to further develop our response and recovery capability in flooding incidents. A framework is being developed which will clearly set out the structures and arrangements that will be established at the local and pan-Wales levels to respond to flooding incidents in or affecting Wales. While not including the detail of local multi-agency response plans it will set out the overarching framework in which these plans sit.
Work on this initiative commenced with a multi-agency flood workshop held on 3 December. The outcome of that workshop will set the foundation of the framework which will be taken forward by the Wales Flood Group.
Building on this, I commend the excellent work done by the Fire and Rescue Service, and all the professional partners that come together to deliver a response during flooding incidents. Their expertise and professionalism was again demonstrated during recent flooding events in Wales in September and November. Sir Michael Pitt's Review highlights both the need and importance of the service.
Since those floods I have met the Wales Fire Chiefs to discuss these issues. I have also agreed that Wales will be represented on a project coordinated by Defra set up to look at improving coordination between existing flood rescue agencies, agreeing standards for training and equipment.
I recently visited Environment Agency Wales' flood incident room at their Cardiff headquarters. This was soon after the flooding which hit parts of Wales in September. This facility provides early warning of possible flood incidents and such services are essential if we are to improve our preparedness for extreme events. I appreciate and very much welcome the work of the Agency and their professional partners during extreme weather and flooding events.
Moving beyond resilience and rescue to the causes of flooding, I created an Integrated Surface Water Management Group last summer, to supplement existing activities by considering how best to identify and map the risks of flooding from surface water. This group is pioneering the coordination of surface water management issues. I understand that this group is the first of its kind in the UK and has received commendations for its work from other regions.
The work of the Integrated Surface Water Management Group will both inform and complement other mapping and planning activities underway in Wales. In particular it will link with the preparation of Catchment Flood Management Plans and Shoreline Management Plans across Wales. These key strategic plans which I have committed to fund will identify sustainable management policies, to address flood and coastal erosion risk over the next 100 years and will provide direction on how we should adapt to the increasing risks from climate change impacts.
We are also delivering change on the ground supporting partners to make the new approach a reality. This includes three pilot studies, combining capital defence works with wider flood intervention measures. The pilots are based in Barry, Prestatyn and Builth Wells and I will be considering the emerging outcome of those studies in 2009. The experience gained from these studies will help shape the future approach to flood risk management, as we aim to produce a best practice guide for future schemes.
Funding for flood and coastal erosion risk management across Wales has more than doubled since 1999 allowing significant investment in coastal defence and flood alleviation improvement schemes across Wales. The Welsh Assembly Government has provided grant funding for local authorities of £5.8m per year as well as supporting Environment Agency with over £12 million for capital improvement projects. In the last year for instance major local authority improvement works have commenced at Llangollen, Abergavenny and Aberaeron, with the latter being awarded over £5m over the next two years. While the Environment Agency has undertaken significant projects at Glynneath, Resolven, New Tredegar and Afon Adda.
However, given the increasing risks we face and recognising the need to move to a risk management system for both flood and coastal risk significant changes in the current delivery mechanisms will be required. New measures will be required and I will be increasing investment in this area significantly in the coming years.
I am delighted to announce that we have secured an additional £30m from convergence funding to invest in flood and coastal erosion risk measures across Wales. These additional funds will be awarded to projects that support a broad approach to flood risk management including built defences, strong partnership engagement, raising awareness and increasing resilience. Through the Assembly Government's strategic capital investment fund, we have allocated another £8m for flood risk management activities. The scale of this additional investment underlines the Assembly Government's commitment to addressing flood and coastal erosion risk in Wales.
I am also in discussion with the operating authorities in Wales regarding further improvements in flood warning, increased resilience and flood awareness. I will be making £575,000 available to Environment Agency Wales between 2009 and 2011 to take forward a number of initiatives. These include:
- establishing a Flood Forecasting centre with the Met Office to improve technical ability to forecast, model and warn against all sources of flooding;
- developing new tools and techniques for predicting and modelling river flooding;
- developing new tools for surface water flooding;
- extending the existing Floodline Warnings Direct Service to include ex-directory numbers;
- preparing reservoir inundation maps to share with local resilience forums to enable them to assist risk and plan for contingency ; and
- developing a UK wide flooding exercise to be completed by 2011.
In conclusion I would commend Sir Michael Pitt and his team for a comprehensive and authoritative review of flood risk and its management. While Wales was fortunate to have escaped the worst of the 2007 weather there are clear read across implications for Wales. I will ensure that the lessons learnt from this report will be taken into account in Wales via the New Approaches Programme which will be regularly reviewed and its actions monitored. It is a strategy for change and needs to be flexible, reflecting the changing needs and priorities for Wales. The effectiveness of the programme will be monitored to ensure that change remains responsive and appropriate and keeps up to date with new information, research and innovation.