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