In a joint statement issued today the action group 'Save Dinas Powys Woods AND protect homes from flooding' and Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) have expressed their concern that Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is still planning to destroy an area of irreplaceable ancient woodland.

The wood  part of our Cwm George and Casehill Woods site near Dinas Powys as part of the Cadoxton Brook Flood Scheme.

The plans would see the construction of a grass covered bund or dam, across the river valley which could be closed during periods of heavy rain to create a temporary reservoir upstream of Dinas Powys1. But this would be right next to irreplaceable ancient woodland, so an area of this would have to be felled, and more woodland would be damaged by periodic flooding when the reservoir was in use.

Local action group

A few months ago, the newly formed local action group, 'Save Dinas Powys Woods AND protect homes from flooding', organised a demonstration at the wood which was attended by some three hundred and fifty people, including local residents, Charlotte Church, Julie Morgan MP and Anthony Slaughter, leader of the Wales Green Party. This suggests that the proposed dam does not have public support, even from the supposed beneficiaries.

The local action group has now agreed to cooperate with the Woodland Trust on a join statement. It opposes the impacts on any option which would see the destruction of ancient woodland and the much loved and well used public amenity of Casehill and Cwm George Woods.

Peter Smith, a spokesperson for the Save Dinas Powys Woods AND protect homes from flooding action group says: “As local people, we’re dismayed by the lack of information forthcoming from NRW on the Cadoxton flood prevention scheme proposals. We feel that the process has been overly lengthy, with publicised deadlines not being met and a general lack of transparency of the decision making process. There has been little proactive consultation with stakeholders or meaningful answers to questions. This has led to uncertainty as to the evidence for such a scheme. Furthermore, there appears to be little consideration of the Well-being of Future Generations Act in considering the full impact of the proposals publicised. We have outlined our concerns through a joint statement of concerns which we have agreed with the Woodland Trust.”

Natalie Buttriss, the Woodland Trust’s Director for Wales says: “We have been very willing to engage with NRW and discuss natural, more sustainable options that could reduce flood risk to local properties. But at this point, we are unconvinced by the data and evidence NRW has provided, and we believe there should be no loss of ancient woodland. So we’re calling on NRW to implement methods of natural flood management now, such as tree planting in areas of the Cadoxton Brook catchment where the organisation’s own maps suggest they could reduce flood risk, and then evaluate whether additional measures are needed to achieve the protection required.”

Natalie Buttriss continues: “The Well-being of Future Generations Act requires public bodies to take into account the full environmental costs and benefits in all decision making, including carbon, biodiversity and landscape. What’s more, as the Welsh Government’s own planning policies recognise3, ancient woodland is irreplaceable. We are extremely concerned that this does not seem to have been factored into the consideration of options. The review carried out by our independent consultants, Wallingford HydroSolutions, has raised a wide range of issues which need to be addressed before the project moves any further.”

In summary

The Woodland Trust and Save Dinas Powys are calling upon Natural Resources Wales to:

  • undertake more comprehensive consultation within the local community, including the campaign group and the Woodland Trust
  • implement natural flood management measures including tree planting within the catchment and then re-evaluate what, if any, additional engineering measures might be necessary to achieve the protection required
  • gather real hydrometric data to inform decision making rather than relying purely on models to inform the business case
  • review the scaling factors used in the modelling for the business case
  • publish all evidence used to inform the business case, and if this cannot be made public, it should not be used as evidence to support the business case
  • review the long list of options in the context of Welsh government policies, with the wellbeing of future generations in mind, taking into account a full evaluation of the costs and benefits not only of construction but of long term maintenance
  • undertake a much more detailed Environmental Impact Assessment of any proposals to be taken forward
  • evaluate the negative impact of the proposed flood storage area on the charitable function of the Woodland Trust.

 

References

1. At grid reference approximately ST 152 720
2. Wallingford HydroSolutions identified a number of actions which NRW could take both to make its case more robust, including:

  • That NRW should gather additional hydrometric data for the catchment, given its complex nature, so as to gain a fuller understanding of it.
  • That additional sensitivity analysis be carried out on the cost benefit ratio of the preferred option i.e. the proposed flood storage area to better understand the uncertainties relating to the hydrology, scaling factors and climate change assumptions.
  • NRW’s business case for the project should be adjusted to incorporate the cost of maintaining the proposed Flood Storage Area. As this would have a capacity of over 10,000 cubic metres and would be classed as a large reservoir under the Reservoirs Act 1975, these costs could be considerable and may well change calculations.

3. Section 6.4.26 of the Welsh Government’s Planning Policy Wales 10, published at the end of last year, states: Ancient woodland and semi-natural woodlands and individual ancient, veteran and heritage trees are irreplaceable natural resources, and have significant landscape, biodiversity and cultural value. Such trees and woodlands should be afforded protection from development which would result in their loss or deterioration unless there are significant and clearly defined public benefits; this protection should prevent potentially damaging operations and their unnecessary loss. In the case of a site recorded on the Ancient Woodland Inventory, authorities should consider the advice of NRW. Planning authorities should also have regard to the Ancient Tree Inventory.

Notes for editors

For media enquiries contact Rory Francis (PR and Campaigns Manager Wales) on 0343 770 5738 / 07539 322678 or email roryfrancis@woodlandtrust.org.uk.

Or The Woodland Trust Press Office on 01476 581121, email media@woodlandtrust.org.uk.

Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims: i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,200 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.

These include over 100 sites in Wales, with a total area of 2,897 hectares (7,155 acres). Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees. The Trust’s Welsh language name, “Coed Cadw”, is an old Welsh term, used in medieval laws to describe protected or preserved woodland.