FAQs – Policy


1. What is the status of SMP2 as far as Gwynedd Council is concerned? It seems to have been

adopted as policy when it is a ‘live’ document. Can you clarify this please?

SMP2 is the Councils policy document for managing the coast and will only be revised if there is a

major issue which materially affects the policy decisions. The Plan would be revised, for example,

if there was a significant change in projected sea level.


2. Now SMP2 is A Gwynedd Council policy how is it informing planning policy decisions? Are there

plans to include it in the LDP (Local Development Plan)?

The SMP is a material planning consideration for development management purposes, which

means that it is reasonable to consider it in assessing relevant planning applications for

development. It will also inform the development of relevant policies within the emerging Joint



3. It appears that as far as the Welsh government is concerned SMP2 has not yet been adopted,

nor does it seem to be underpinned by an identified budget. Can you clarify this please?

The Minister for Natural Resources agreed the West of Wales Shoreline Management Plan

(SMP2) on the 20th of October 2014. It included a caveat that the situation at Fairbourne should

be constantly monitored. He has agreed to send a letter to Natural Resources Wales and the

Chair of the Coastal Group, accepting the plan.

The SMP2 is a non-statutory policy document for coastal flood and erosion risk management

planning. It takes account of other existing planning initiatives and legislative requirements, and

is intended to inform wider strategic planning. The SMP does not set policy for anything other

than coastal flood and erosion risk management.

The SMP2 promotes management policies for the coastline into the 22nd Century to achieve long

term objectives, while being technically sustainable, environmentally acceptable and

economically viable. Taking into account the forecasts of increasing risks due to climate change

impacts, the SMP2 provides an approach for meeting objectives through appropriate

management change, i.e. a ‘route map’ for decision makers to move from the present situation

towards the future.

The objectives of the SMP2 must be set out in accordance with the Government’s strategy for

managing risks from floods and coastal erosion, and will help to ensure that the SMP2 promotes

sustainable development, with respect to people, the human and natural environment.


11. The recent expenditure on protecting Fairbourne from the estuary costing £7,000,000

approximately was funded from where? How were the cost benefits of this scheme determined,

was a formula used? The European route? Is there a risk of potential clawback within the

adoption of SMP2 by Gwynedd Council? How was this very recent expenditure taken into

account for SMP2?

The recent scheme was funded by Welsh Government and the European Regional Development

Fund, (because of Fairbourne’s location), via Environment Agency Wales/Natural Resources

Wales Flood Risk Management Capital Expenditure Budget.

Inspections of the existing tidal flood defences (Fairbourne, Fegla Fawr, Mawddach and Arthog)

had identified sections of defence that had deteriorated over time to be in poor condition and at

real risk of breaching. In addition, the existing embankments were difficult to maintain due to

the steepness of the side slopes, narrow crests and lack of access.

Failure of the tidal embankments would lead to tidal flooding of approximately 420 properties

(predominantly residential) during a 1 in 200 (0.5%) Annual Exceedance Probability flood event

resulting in significant risk to life. This meant that Fairbourne was ranked high in Environment

Agency Wales Communities at Risk Register and resulted in it being put forward as a project.

The premise for the scheme was to minimise, as far as possible, the construction work costs.

Embankments were strengthened along their existing alignment (apart from two short set back

areas) and the defence heights were kept as existing and not raised.

At the time of finalising the business case for the Fairbourne Flood Risk Management Scheme

(FRMS) the West of Wales Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) 2 policy for tidal flood defences

along the estuary was being reviewed and had not been finalised.

The Health and Safety factors referenced above were the key drivers in Environment Agency

Wales promoting the Fairbourne FRMS. However the economic justification for undertaking

works was also considered in line with Treasury Rules in order to ensure that the financial

benefits of undertaking works would outweigh the costs.

In order to judge the economic viability of a project we appraise it across a timespan of 100years.

The recommended draft policy within the SMP2 at the time of preparing the Business Case for

the scheme was Policy 3: Continue with existing or alternative actions to manage flood risk at the

current level. The draft SMP2 was promoting hold the line in Epoch 1 (over the next 20 years),

managed retreat in Epoch 2 (20-50 years) and then no active intervention during Epoch 3 (50-100


Therefore in order to ensure that the works provided value for money Natural Resources Wales

reduced the appraisal period to 50 years and assumed that costs for a Managed Realignment of

the tidal embankment would occur in yr 20 (to align with Epoch 2 policy and assume a worst case

scenario). The overall effect was an increase in costs and a slight reduction in benefits. However

there was still economic justification for the scheme.

Natural Resources Wales are comfortable that the decision making process was robust and that

the scheme complies within the SMP2 strategy for the area.

The current final project costs are estimated to be £6 million, based on savings and not

expending the risk allowance.

Natural Resources Wales are not expecting ‘clawback’ to be an issue on this project, but Welsh

Government would be better placed to answer this question in more detail.

We feel that the information provided, fully answers the question.


16. The SMP situation was known for some years yet people have still been able to purchase

properties in Fairbourne. Why, when ultimately the property is worthless? Likewise why have

Gwynedd Council allowed more properties to be built and invested in through development?

The Local Planning Authority has no control over the sale of properties. There is no question

about the status of land or properties in the SMP on the Land Charges.

A number of sites in and around Fairbourne have the benefit of extant historic planning consents,

ie, planning permission was granted some time ago but the permission remains extant as a

‘material start’ has occurred. Apart from consent given in 2012 for the conversion of a first floor

property to residential use, all extant planning consent and implemented planning consents predate

the adopted Unitary Development Plan, TAN15 and the baseline date for SMP2. Planning

applications are now assessed against the requirements of Policy B29 in the adopted Unitary

Development Plan as well as national planning policy and guidance.


17. When you did extensive consultation for the embankment on the estuary flooding it was made

very clear by the then Environment Agency that Fairbourne was not at risk from flooding from

the sea. What has changed?

Throughout the consultation for the recent scheme Natural Resources Wales stressed that the

potential for greatest risk to Fairbourne was from the sea. There was an initial perception within

the community that the main risk to the village was fluvial flooding from the watercourses.

Whilst there is a fluvial risk, the consultation stressed the tidal risk implications to the village and

hence the justification for the scheme, with the potential to impact approximately 420 properties

tidally with 28 at risk fluvially.

Since the Sea wall and tidal embankments were built at Fairbourne back in 1976 the village has

benefitted from a 1:200 standard of protection to flooding from the sea. The recent flood scheme

has not increased the level of protection from the Sea but refurbished to maintain the level of

performance by reducing the likelihood of breach which is the main threat to Fairbourne rather

than overtopping. It was the condition of the sea defences that instigated the coastal

improvements rather than the level of protection.


18. In your Frequently Asked Questions it says SMP2 emphasises that over the next 40 years you

‘can and should defend’ Fairbourne. Can you clarify the use of the word ‘should’ as opposed to

the word ‘will’? If severe weather causes a flooding event will the policy of defend continue?

Welsh Government has an annual budget for flood and coastal erosion risk management in

Wales, this is supplemented on occasions by European money and other funds. Each of the 22

Unitary Authorities in Wales have to bid for grant aid for any plan or project which they wish to

promote. The SMP sets the recommended approach to risk management now and into the

future, importantly setting the high level approach and intent of management. This will be taken

into account by Welsh Government and is essential technical support when operating authorities

(the Councils and NRW) submit projects for funding. In defining the intent to defend Fairbourne

over the next 40 years, this will support Gwynedd Council’s application for grant aid to fund

works that may be required.

During the 40 years, the intent would be to repair defences and address flood risk issues arising

from extreme events. As we move towards the end of this period there would be the need to

review what specific actions might be required. This will critically depend upon sea level rise and

upon associated actions developed through the project.


19. When Gwynedd Council adopted the SMP2 plan, why was this not communicated to the

community? The Council has a duty of care to its residents. Surely further effort should have

been made to consult with the wider community?

The SMP sets out a recommended approach to management in terms of policy. It also sets out an

action plan necessary to address the issues raised by the recommended policy. In adopting the

findings of the SMP, the Council also accepted the need for the action plan. One could not be

adopted without the other. The SMP Action Plan for Fairbourne made recommendations for

establishing a project to further investigate the issues and to develop further the consultation

with the community. Setting up the project board and developing how this would be taken

forward with the community has been a priority for the Council. As discussed at the meeting on

the 25th April, this has not been a straightforward process. Many lessons have been learnt,

particularly in understanding how best to communicate with the whole community. It is

important that the project group takes this forward positively.


20. Why when we need more affordable housing should we allow 400 decent houses to be

swallowed by the sea? Wouldn’t extra sea defences be cheaper?

As explained earlier, in the longer term, it will be harder technically to maintain an acceptable

standard of defence. While it is possible to build defences higher, install pumps and manage the

erosion, this would incur very significant cost, with on-going increase in costs. Furthermore, in

attempting to defend people in the future, this risk is such that should defences be overtopped or,

worse still, breached then the consequences would be immense and put people’s lives at risk.

At present, Fairbourne does provide an important and valuable housing stock. In the future there

would be greater and greater reliance on defences. We need to plan how we adapt to a future

where Gwynedd’s housing stock is maintained in a sustainable manner.


21. How will the Welsh Government determine their support, or otherwise, for decisions on

abandoning partially or totally established communities? Will decisions be based upon

competitive bidding for limited resources?

With reference to Q3 local authorities have to make a bid for grant for any plan or project they

wish to promote. The mechanism for Welsh Government support will be through the operating

authorities, NRW and/or Gwynedd Council.


24. Where does the money from fuel tax go? Supposedly climate change!?

Significant investment is being made at a national level in addressing and researching issues of

climate change. However, research strongly indicates that even if the causes of climate change

were addressed sea level rise will continue in the future.


27. Why have the Welsh Government and Gwynedd Council not clarified and promoted an accurate

view of the situation in Fairbourne? Is there a hidden agenda?

The SMP has been produced using the best available data to look into the future and determine

how best to manage the coastline knowing that sea levels are rising. There is uncertainty

regarding how quickly and by how much sea level is going to rise but it is clear that change will

occur. There is no hidden agenda, the whole process has been open and transparent.


35. What is Gwynedd Council going to do now that they have put people who need to move unable

to realise their investments? How are they going to remedy this situation to the satisfaction of


This issue was discussed at the meeting on the 25th April 2014. It was identified that there has

been some research looking at house prices and how these are affected. This, however, has to be

examined further through the project. As requested by the community, the Council have

prepared a note setting out the findings of the SMP. It is important that all involved are able to

base their decisions upon a clear understanding of the policy. This will continue to be discussed as

part of the Project Workgroup, referred to previously.


36. The Council is prepared to pay ‘housing benefit’ – which, if all residents from Fairbourne were

re-housed in private accommodation, could equate to somewhere in the region of £3,000,000

per annum, would this substantial amount of public money be better used to compensate

people who need to move house each year – in all a better, and more humane outcome?

Wouldn’t the Council be better looking for more innovative ways of dealing with the problem

they have created, rather than expecting us to walk away from our investments?

The problem being faced is as a result of the threat of future sea level rise. The Project will

consider and investigate this question more fully and will raise this issue with Welsh Government.

After discussion at the Project Board and the Property Values, Insurance and Planning Policy

Task/Finish Group, it was decided to apply for funding from the Welsh Government to undertake

a Feasibility Study into a Buy to Let Scheme for Fairbourne. We are currently awaiting funding

for this project, however, if successful, it will be run as a separate project to the Workgroup and

Task/Finish Group. Further information relating to this will be released as and when available.


38. It appears that Gwynedd Council have failed in its ‘Duty of Care’ to residents of Fairbourne. How

does the Council feel about the potential claims for ‘Personal Injury’ due to ill health and trauma

caused by their negligent way of dealing with the situation?

The SMP has been developed in line with the SMP Guidance. The findings of the SMP and its

recommendations in terms of the SMP Action Plan had been considered and approved by the

Technical Steering Group and the Client Steering Group. Following approval by the operating

authorities the SMP was signed off by the national Quality Review Group (QRG).

The Council’s decision to accept the findings of the SMP and approve taking forward

implementation of the plan (as set out in the Action Plan) was timely and necessary to start

addressing the issues raised by the SMP. It was based on the information provided in the SMP

document. The Action Plan which highlights the need to develop an adaption strategy has been

agreed by Gwynedd Council and its development, involving the Fairbourne Community, is

ongoing. This is being discussed by the Working Group (formerly the Task and Finish Group –

Socio/Economic Consequences of Climate Change).


39. Have the other 49 areas been better advised than we have about their predicament or will it be

left to the media?

There will have been an opportunity for all coastal areas to comment on the draft SMP2 during

the consultation process. Gwynedd Council have embarked on long term programme of raising

awareness and generating capacity in communities to understand and discuss their future.

Gwynedd Council are believed to be the only local authority in Wales to have proactively visited

every coastal City, Town and Community Council to explain the impacts of SMP2 policy.


40. As an alternative to the untenable situation Fairbourne is at present placed in, would it not be

better for the Council to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach – with the promise of compensation, if

and when, this event ever happens? This would then release residents to sell their homes with

the guarantee of compensation in the future – and if we can still acquire insurance then we

could claim on our insurance policies. This would be of no initial cost to the Council but if the

Council wants to implement the SMP2 and remove residents from Fairbourne then the only

humanitarian thing to do is buy their homes at current market values (pre SMP2 market values)

– not devalued market values. How does the Council feel about this suggestion?

At present there are no measures in place for this. Council support for ‘relocation’ would

probably be limited to help with finding a private sector property to rent and with applying for

housing benefit. There is a national debate over this. The Project will consider and investigate

this more fully and will raise this issue with Welsh Government. It other areas of the country, in

particular on the east coast of England, the ideas of purchase and lease back have been looked

at. This along with other ideas will be considered through the Project via the Working Group

(formerly Task and Finish Group – Property Values, Insurance and Planning Policy).


43. What is the Council’s intention regarding the potential to charge second home owners double

rates? If the Council do decide to take this action will they look at the possibility of making an

exemption for Fairbourne in light of the recognised current difficulties of selling property within

the community?

This will be raised with the appropriate departments within Gwynedd Council and the Project

Board will provide a response as and when one is communicated to them.


50. Could the relevant agencies tell us where the commitment to defend Fairbourne for the next 40

years is reflected in official policy decisions? How will this be reflected in order to satisfy

solicitors’ requests?

The estimated figure of 40 years is based upon current scientific information available to us and

ongoing monitoring.


53. At what point will a decision be taken, and by whom, to maintain the Cambrian Coast Railway

and remove the uncertainty about its long term future?

Network Rail Wales Route continues to develop maintenance and renewal plans for coastal rail

assets beyond our current Control Period to ensure continued operations along the Cambrian

route. Any long term strategic decisions would not be made in isolation, and would be managed

through our Long Term Planning Process and engagement with a wide group of stakeholders

including Welsh Government, Local Authorities, Office of Rail and Road, and Natural Resources

Wales. We view our participation on the Fairbourne Project Board as a means of understanding

and accruing important information to ascertain when a decision may need to be made for the

long term future of the Cambrian route. We do not understand the reference to uncertainty

about the future of the line, Network Rail is committed to improving the railway in Wales.


54. With regard to the Fluvial Defence Scheme, was the European Funding Body aware that NRW

“reduced the appraisal period to 50 years and assumed that costs for a Managed Realignment of

the tidal embankment would occur in year 20″?

No, the European Funding Body would not look into the detail of the appraisal completed and

would not be aware of the various tests and sensitivity checks completed when establishing the

preferred option for addressing flood risk.

This exercise was completed as a check to establish that the planned works to defend Fairbourne

from the tide were cost beneficial and viable, even if future change occurred. The results were

positive and thus gave re-assurance that progressing with works at Fairbourne was the correct

thing to do economically.


55. SMP2 states that it is in line with the Government’s ‘sustainable development principles’. One of

these principles is “achieving a sustainable economy”, which says the following:

“Building a strong, stable and sustainable economy which provides prosperity and opportunities

for all, and in which environmental and social costs fall onto those who impose them (polluter

pays), and efficient resource use is incentivised.”

Considering SMP2 states for Mawddach Entrance South that ‘despite significant potential

benefits, long term defence is not considered to be sustainable’, and the prime reason for this is

sea level rise, then it appears that the home owners and residents of Fairbourne are paying the

price of the pollutant industries that have resulted in the predicted sea level rise.

As the above clearly demonstrates that SMP2 has not followed the principles by which it states it

has, when will SMP2, in its current state, be withdrawn and re-written?

The question raises two important and complex issues: whether the SMP has been developed in

line with the Government’s principles of “sustainable development” and, the second, the degree

to which the home owners and residents of Fairbourne are paying the price of actions by others.

These issues are recognised as being interrelated. However, in providing a response each is

considered separately as one refers to the validity of the SMP, while the other relates more to

how the challenges are being taken forward.

In the response to the first issue on the principles of sustainable development, the question

quite correctly quotes one of the core five principles set out by Government in 2005. However,

this has to considered in relation to all the principles as a whole. From this view point the

principles set out to achieve “a strong, healthy and just society” recognising the need to “live

within environmental limits”. The aim is to create a strong society with a view to the future; one

where we are not reliant on greater and greater investment in things such as flood defence and

where we are not just passing on problems that society will have to pick up in the future. These

two principles are underpinned by the aim to “achieve a sustainable economy” (the principle

quoted in the question), based on “sound science” and promoted by “sound governance”. The

concept of sustainability, therefore, recognises the need to balance all these principles. This is

the approach that has been taken in developing the SMP.

The SMP identified the serious challenges faced at Fairbourne. It states that at present there are

significant benefits that need to be protected. This is why the SMP argues for the need to

maintain and improve defence in the short to medium term. However, the SMP has also

identified that in the future, to continue to defend the village will become increasingly difficult.

At some point in the future, even with defences in place, the community is at greater and

greater risk and is increasingly vulnerable. At some point there will need to be a change; the

approach to risk management becomes unsustainable. Based on existing projections of sea level

rise and increased rainfall due to climate change, this critical point would be reached when sea

level rises by around 0.5m.

One of the underlying principles of sustainability and, indeed of the SMP, is that we

acknowledge the need for change and that we plan for such change now; that we do not walk

blindly in to the future, leaving future generations to face these challenges when there is much

less time to plan.

In relation to the second part of the question, the Defra Guidance on the development of SMPs

states “Operating authorities, local government and national government do not have a duty to

provide protection against flooding or erosion. Nor is there any reason to assume that this will

change in the future or that individual losses would be compensated for from public funds.

However, operating authorities should work with other relevant authorities and the Government

to assess the effects and promote community confidence where new (or improved defences)

cannot be provided in the future.”

In taking forward the SMP, the Fairbourne project has engaged with Welsh Government in

examining these important issues. It is only through identifying the problem through the SMP

that this has been possible, dealing with the difficult but very real issues that are presented by

climate change and sea level rise.


56. SMP2 states that it will cost an estimated £25m (£90.7m PVd (discounted present value)) to

abandon Fairbourne over the next 100 years, where the majority of the £25m, £23.5m, is to pay

for the relocation of the Fairbourne community in Epoch 3. The “achieving a sustainable

economy” government principle implies that costs should not fall upon community of

Fairbourne. The cost of Fairbourne’s properties at today’s values (not PVd) is approximately

£60m, which is significantly greater than £25m.

This shows that the recommendation that the protection of Fairbourne is not sustainable has

been made using inaccurate economic data. If accurate economic data is used then it may be

the case that sustaining Fairbourne in the longer term is the best way forward both

economically, environmentally and for the good of the community. Considering this, when will

SMP2, in its current state, be withdrawn and re-written?

Unfortunately the values quoted in the above, apparently taken from the SMP, Appendix F –

Economic appraisal, have been misinterpreted and, therefore incorrectly reported in the


The values reported in the SMP refer to potential flood damages, determined using standard

damage values as discussed in section F3 of the Appendix. No reference is made in the SMP to

the cost of relocation. Therefore, while the total estimated value of properties is useful, it does

not relate directly to the values stated in the SMP.

It is, however, recognised that the economic assessment in the SMP is undertaken at a high level,

and this is acknowledged in the SMP. The values do, however, provide a realistic estimate of the

scale of damages that might occur as a result of flooding.

For clarity:

• Taking, first, the £25M quoted in the question derived presumably by the summation of the

annual average damages over the three epochs. The annual average damage is the damage that

might, on average, be expected to occur (summed for all properties affected) in any one year, in

any epoch.

This is discounted over each year of epoch 1 (a period of 20 years) to give a present value

damage of £2.8M. This compares to the present value damages that would occur if all

defences were allowed to fail during epoch 1 of £28.7M.

This highlights two important points that have been considered in the SMP:

• That at present the defences play an important role in defending the village

(economically equivalent to some £25M over the next 20 years).

• That even with defences in place, providing a high standard of defence, The area remains

at risk under a very significant storm event.

Overtime the annual average damage increases. Even maintaining the existing standard of

defences would result in a present day value of residual damage of some £4M during epoch 2,

rising to £10M in epoch 3. This reflects the increased level of flooding that would occur due to

sea level rise. It should also be noted that these figures do not include the residual damages

that might occur due to ground water, surface water flooding and flooding due to overspill of

the water courses.

• Second, the £90.7M. This is the summed damages that might be anticipated, on average

over the next 100 years, due to flooding from the sea. In fact, the question correctly identifies

that this is a simplification of a full economic appraisal but not in the way suggested by the

question. Under normal economic rules in assessing the benefits of a scheme (as opposed to

the high level assessment provided by the SMP), this value would be capped at the value of

the property. It would be assumed that at some point in time, rather than properties being

flooded on a regular basis they would be abandoned. (E.g. it is assumed from an economic

perspective that if a property were flooded to the extent that the damage to the property

exceeded the value of the property then the owner of the property would not consider it

sensible to continue to live in that property.)

Taking for example the total value of properties quoted in the question as being £60M, then

if, overall, damages exceeded that value then property values would be written off. Again

strictly speaking, if the properties were abandoned, rather than having continuing risk of

flooding in year 40, then the present day (discounted) value of that £60M would be around


The SMP considered the broad economic situation so as to examine the change in flood impacts

over time in a consistent manner. As discussed in answer to question 55 above, the Defra

Guidance highlights the need to examine the economic feasibility of the management plan,

taking account of other factors, such as the longer term sustainability issues.


57. SMP2 states the following:

“4.5.12 Throughout the SMP area properties and local access is protected through HTL and MR

policies. In some locations such as at Clarach Bay, Borth, Fairbourne, and Llanfairfechan the

policy of MR is anticipated to impact on properties through loss due to erosion or flooding in the

long-term. In certain cases these impacts can to some degree be mitigated fro through the

provision of early warning systems for flooding and the relocation of properties. Where it is not

sustainable to maintain properties the intent of the SMP policy is to allow time for frontages to

be adapted and properties relocated if required.”

Can you explain where the circa 400 properties in Fairbourne will be relocated to, how this will

happen, what the estimated cost of this relocation will be, and is any of this cost expected to be

born directly by the Fairbourne property owners?

These are questions which we do not yet have the answers to. We are in the process of

undertaking a Project Appraisal Report which will explore more fully the options available to us

over time, in order that we can make more informed decisions about the future of Fairbourne.


59. It is understood that a ‘Buy and Lease Back’ option is being investigated. Considering that the

environment could change significantly over the next 40 to 50 years (for example oil is expected

to run out), the only sensible option to be pursued is where home owners of Fairbourne are

guaranteed the market value (as if Fairbourne was not at risk of flooding) at the point at which

their homes need to be abandoned, which may well be in 50 to 100 years time or, indeed, never.

The ‘Buy and Lease Back’ option will result in a premature degradation of the Fairbourne

community as many will feel they have no alternative but to take the option and leave

Fairbourne as soon as the government has purchased their property.

Considering the above, why don’t you adopt a policy which encourages Fairbourne to survive as

long as possible?

Buy and Lease Back is one option that has been considered elsewhere and the project is

investigating this alongside other approaches being considered in other parts of the UK. As

discussed in the answer to question 55, earlier, under current policy “Operating authorities, local

government and national government do not have a duty to provide protection against flooding

or erosion. Nor is there any reason to assume that this will change in the future or that individual

losses would be compensated for from public funds.”

The project has engaged with Welsh Government in examining these important issues. It is only

through identifying the problem through the SMP that this has been possible, dealing with the

difficult but very real issues that are presented by climate change and sea level rise.

In terms of “keeping Fairbourne going as long as possible”, this is the challenge that is being

taken up by the project. However, it is necessary to plan for the eventuality of abandoning

defences and the need for relocation. At present the project has set in place actions that aim to

clarify the trigger point or threshold at which such action would be necessary and to identify

possible actions that need to be taken now and over the intervening years to mitigate the

problems being faced.


65. We need measures to encourage buyers for properties in Fairbourne and second home owners

are the most likely group. Can Gwynedd Council suspend their policy of a second house owner

premium on Council Tax in places to be abandoned to flooding?

This is a great idea and we will be looking into this as part of the Working Group.


67. PZD11 Policy Unit 7, Policy 3. This policy identifies multiple actions including several

investigations and surveys. When and where will these actions/results be published and what

impact (or when will the impact) be applied to the current response to this policy?

For clarity in responding to this question, The SMP2 identifies in relation to this whole area (not

just policy unit 7) that:

There are uncertainties in terms of timing of the proposed changes and impacts. There is also a

need for a detailed planned response to change. It will be important to relate this to national

monitoring of sea level rise and more general climate change and to monitoring at the shoreline.

At present there are no specific funding measures for relocation of large communities beyond the

responsibilities for re‐housing. This is an issue that would need to be considered further at a

national level.

Furthermore, the SMP sets out the following actions:

Shoreline Monitoring ‐ this has continued building on the monitoring that Gwynedd have been

undertaking. This information is available and has been used in the NRW study into Friog and will

continue to be used in looking at and confirming how the shoreline continues to develop.

Short term strategy for defence – This, again is an action that continues to develop. The first part

of this led to the improvements to the embankment. Subsequently, NRW investigated what work

might be needed at Friog corner. As this work has been undertaken, it has broadened to consider

other aspects of risk and this is now part of developing the Master Plan.

Relocation and adaption planning – This is being taken forward through the project working with

various organisations and the community.

Assess in detail potential impact on historic environment – As the project is being taken forward

these issues will be addressed.

Assess opportunities for habitat creation and adaptation – This is being considered as part of the


In addition, other issues have been identified, in part linked to the above. These have included

the monitoring of ground water and considering this in relation to national advice on climate

change. Further studies include looking at impacts on the community, property values, the legal

issues and emergency planning. In developing the Master Plan, the aim has been to draw these

various strands together and to report the results back to the community.


69. As a property owner that has suffered with zero property valuation, is there flexibility to revise

the programme and SMP2 to see changes?

At this moment, there are no plans to revise the programme and SMP2. As time passes,

however, and as more accurate data becomes available, the timescales in the SMP2 will have to

be revised in order to keep residents, homeowners, business owners and stakeholders informed

(and allow them to plan accordingly) and also to allow the project to manage risk, more



72. Why is the emphasis so much on abandonment, rather than better defences? Emotive language

will limit hopes of investment in the village.

The term ‘abandonment’ is not one that the project has used, nor would endorse. The term

‘decommissioning’ is currently being used as its definition is ‘….a long, planned process of taking

something from being active to inactive..’.

As explained at the recent public event, the defences are currently of a very good standard (able

to withstand a one in a two hundred year storm), however, the threat is not simply from the sea

level rises (again, as explained at the event). Money spent on improving defences beyond what

is necessary, therefore, is not going to reduce the risk to the village.

It is also worth adding that the project has worked very hard to ensure that Fairbourne remains

out of the press and where it does engage with the press, it is in a positive light. This has served

the recovery of the community well as life in general has started to settle a little and the

continued work by the project would – we are confident – have been able to gradually reverse

some of the damage to house values and sales. However, recent press coverage of the village in

relation to the legal action being considered, has reinforced the issues facing Fairbourne. A

great deal of good work has now been damaged and further work will need to be done to

restore the equilibrium reached, prior to this secondary media storm. This recent media storm

has, effectively limited further, hopes of investment in the village.


75. Can we question the tone of inevitability to this issue? Central and Welsh Government should be


Of course it is right to question this. The Masterplan is a document that will be flexible enough

to be tailored to the timescales we are working with now and scientific evidence we are

presented with as time goes by. This means that timescales could be stretched and what is

forecast as defending the village for 40 years now (from 2014) could end up being 50 or 60

years, should climate change not occur at the speed at which it’s currently being predicted.

Conversely, we could end up with a timescale of 20-30 years if science and monitoring conclude

climate change is happening a lot quicker than we are currently predicting. It is because of this

risk that climate change could be happening a lot quicker that currently predicted, that we are

having to build resilience socially and economically now. It would be foolish to not plan for

something we could possibly foresee and anyone would take this approach with any other

matter; it is just that in this case, the consequences of not doing anything – not planning – could

be extreme and possibly result in loss of livelihood and life.

The matter of SMP2 has been devolved to the Welsh Government. Both the Flooding & Coastal

Erosion Risk Management team and Lesley Griffiths AM – Minister for Communities, were

invited to this event, however neither were available.


80. Decommissioning the village is ludicrous; other coastal communities have suffered worse than

Fairbourne. Where is Welsh Government today? Has there been a feasibility study for improving

the defences rather than current talk of blight?

The process of decommissioning is a long one and is explained in greater detail in Q64.

Welsh Government were invited here today, however they had prior commitments.

In terms of a feasibility study for improving defences, Natural Resources Wales have recently

commissioned the Friog Cliffs Study and the outcome of this was discussed at the recent public

event. A study has also been conducted for Morfa Friog (or Ro Wen Spit) and the contents of

this were published some time ago. There is currently no study for the middle part of the

defence and we will raise this with Natural Resources Wales. It should be noted, however, that

it is not simply a case of improving sea defences at Fairbourne. There is a significant risk from

groundwater flooding, flooding from water running off the mountains and also the river

(although the latter is managed currently by tidal flood gates). Simply raising the sea defences

would not provide adequate protection for Fairbourne as initial groundwater monitoring has

demonstrated that even without over-topping on the sea defence, the groundwater levels rise

and drop with the tide, due to the village being built on ground reclaimed from the sea.


82. There is a contradiction regarding decommissioning in 5/10 years versus defending for 40 years?

There is no contradiction. The Fairbourne Masterplan (decommissioning) and SMP2 (defending

for 40 years from 2014) are two separate issues. The Masterplan will deal with planning for the

effects on the village caused by climate change, eg, increased flooding and this work needs to

start now as some aspects of it, such as relocation of the village (if this becomes necessary) is a

matter that can take a very long time to resolve, maybe 5‐10 years. The SMP2 is a policy

document to support planning and funding processes.


83. Does this mean we will stop building on the floodplain?

Yes. This was a matter that was addressed early in the project and a Planning Guidance

Document has been produced specifically to deal with the issues of planning permission and

alterations to buildings, within Fairbourne. It should be noted, however, that planning

permission that was granted many years ago, can still apply, however any buildings would be

subject to the rigorous scrutiny of Gwynedd Council’s planning team and Building Control, to

ensure that risk from flooding is minimised. A copy of this document has been available at all

our public events since 2014 and is available on this website.


86. Although it’s early days and no certainty of rehousing yet, will we have a choice and how will we

be involved in decision making?

Rehousing will be dealt with under the Fairbourne Masterplan and as communicated at the

public event, we hope that the community will collaborate with us in producing this Masterplan.

By commencing this task early, we hope that more options will be available to us as a project

board and to you as the community. We cannot, therefore, emphasise enough how important it

is for the community to work with us in a positive manner, to produce this Masterplan.


91. Re: Holland, there are plans for building on stilts with deep foundations. The water table is likely

to rise in Fairbourne; if water levels rise slower than expected, will the 40 year cut‐off period be


Yes, this is being kept under review. There is due to be a further overall assessment of climate

change in 2019. This will further inform the project.

As set out in the response to question 76, the Fairbourne Masterplan will be written with built-in

flexibility to take account of more accurately predicted changes in levels.


97. The worst thing about the SMP2 is the lack of a compensation package. Residents do not have

the option to move. We need to lobby Government further.

As mentioned previously, there is no compensation package available. With the financial cuts

being placed upon Welsh Government and Gwynedd Council, any change in this situation is



107. Will the construction industry be compensated?

As mentioned previously, there are currently no plans for compensation.


108. How will you compensate us for decommissioning our property and forcibly evicting us?

As mentioned previously, there are currently no plans for compensation. Also, there has

been no mention of us asking people to ‘decommission’ their property nor, forcibly evicting