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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 06:51 GMT
Climate change warning on floods
Flooding in Pontypridd
Scenes like this have become relatively common around Wales
The man in charge of managing flood risk in Wales has warned the cost will rise in coming decades under climate change from 70m to 1.4bn.

Geraint Davies is head of a new committee to control flood risk in Wales which starts work on 1 April.

Mr Davies said the body's work would be "critical" to meet the challenges of climate change and the rise in sea level over the coming years.

He wants people with an interest in the issue from across Wales to help.

Half a million people in Wales live and work in areas at risk of flooding and the estimated cost of damage is projected to increase from 70m to 1.4bn by 2080, said Mr Davies.

More than 170,000 homes, businesses, roads, railways, together with thousands of acres of farmland, lie in flood risk areas in the country.

Our priority is to protect people and property from the growing risk of flooding
Geraint Davies

The new Flood Risk Management Wales committee has been set up by the Welsh Assembly Government. It is an executive committee of Environment Agency Wales and will have an budget of 32m.

Mr Davies said: "Global warming and climate change are now generally understood but the possible risks to jobs, homes and natural habitats from flooding are not.

"The effect of climate change is a major challenge we face which can contribute to the increased frequency and intensity of flooding."

'Protect people'

He said authorities must shift their focus beyond the traditional emphasis on building and maintaining flood defences.

"We need to look at how we manage the land and ensure that local communities have their day.

"Our priority is to protect people and property from the growing risk of flooding," Mr Davies added.

People from all walks of life - including industry, farming, community work and conservation - are being sought to take up either two-year or four-year appointments on Flood Risk Management Wales.

"We need a range of experience on the committee so that the decisions that we make are balanced and in the best interests."

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