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SERVICES 
Tuesday, 5 February, 2002, 08:24 GMT
New ideas needed to prevent floods
Flooded River Usk, south Wales
Residents say flooding has got worse in recent years
The Welsh Assembly's environment minister has blamed climate change for the serious flooding which has hit the country, saying long term planning is needed to prevent the worst effects.

Sue Essex said measures needed to be taken in upland areas to stop heavy rain turning into torrents of water flooding areas like Monmouth, south Wales.

Sue Essex
Sue Essex said long term planning was needed

The town remained on flood alert on Tuesday despite an easing of the strong winds and persistent rain that battered Wales over the weekend.

But people evacuated from their homes in Monmouth, and following a landslip on the A465 Heads of the Valleys road at Clydach Gorge near Abergavenny, were told they could return home.

Schools and roads in Monmouth and other areas of mid and south Wales were still closed as the mopping up began.

One severe flood warning remained in force for the River Monnow in Monmouth with and seven other flood warnings across the country.

Climate change

Forecasters predicted an easing of the heavy rain overnight but warned of localised heavy showers and of the rainwater which has still to make its way off the mountains over saturated ground.

Residents of Monmouth said flooding has become much more serious in recent years, with some blaming the increase in housing development on floodplains.

Ms Essex said that climate change had resulted in much heavier downpours in recent years, with rain falling on already saturated ground in upland areas resulting in serious flooding downstream.

Flooded pub in Crickhowell
People fear insurance could cost more

She suggested that new ideas should be tried such as planting more trees in upland areas to absorb some water and slow down the run-off, along with the bolstering of flood defences in key areas.

"Clearly at real pinch ponts we need to make sure the best flood alleviation and the best flood defence schemes can get in, and we've given a lot more money to do that," she said.

"But if you're looking long term, we know that with climate change we're going to get long periods of rain, very heavy intensive rain fall.

"We're dealing with this difficult phenomenon of heavy rain on top of saturated soil, and that's going to make a country like Wales more vulnerable in all sorts of places.

"We've got to be perhaps more clever than we were in the past to make sure we prepare for and alleviate these problems."

Fresh alerts

The flood warnings issued by the environment agency include: the Wye at Monmouth, south Wales; the Severn near Welshpool, mid Wales; the Monnow at Osbaston, south Wales; and the Lower Dee at Wrexham, north Wales.

Heads of the Valley road
The A465 in south Wales is blocked by a landslide

There were also 19 flood watches, including the Conwy and Dyfi Valleys, parts of the Usk, the Mawddach, Wnion at Dolgellau; the river Bran, the Cothi, the river Neath, the Teifi and the Towy.

Emergency teams have been assessing the damage after Wales was hit by the worst storms in the UK overnight on Sunday.

Around 20 families were evacuated from their mobile homes in Monmouth as the River Wye burst its banks, flooding three streets.

But water levels at the Riverside Caravan Park were said to be subsiding on Tuesday.

Monmouthshire County Council estimated the landslip on the A465 Heads of the Valleys road at Clydach Gorge on Saturday 2 February would take around four days to clear.

Schools closed
Greenhill Comprehensive, Tenby
Llanfaes CP, Brecon
Clydach Primary, Abergavenny (to Weds)
Osbaston Infants and Junior Schools, Monmouth (and on Tuesday)
Overmonnow Primary School, Monmouth
Brecon High School reopens on Tuesday
Caerleon Comprehensive School, Newport, closed on Tuesday

Engineers will then look at the damage, remove slurry and install rockfill near the top of the slope to prevent the back of the slip getting worse.

Burst water and sewerage mains had hindered efforts to estimate the scale of the work.

The local authority said 18 families from two streets in Clydach - Maes Glas and Church Lane - had been asked to find alternative accommodation for safety reasons.

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 ON THIS STORY
Welsh Environment Minister Sue Essex
"We've got to be more clever than we were in the past to make sure we prepare for and alleviate these problems"
BBC Wales's Sian Lloyd
"People in Monmouth are hoping for some respite but they're not putting away the sandbags yet"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Gale-hit Britain
Send us your experiences of the storms
See also:

03 Feb 02 | Wales
Mopping up begins after floods
03 Feb 02 | Scotland
Crew rescued from stricken boat
02 Feb 02 | Wales
Warning of more floods to come
01 Feb 02 | Northern Ireland
Storms threaten power supplies
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