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PEOPLE should be encouraged to form local defence committees to help respond to flooding, a senior council officer has said.

Ainsley Williams, Carmarthenshire’s head of waste and environmental services, said getting communities to engage with the authorities has been tricky in the past.

But, citing what appears to be an increase in storm activity, Mr Williams, said: “Now it’s more prevalent maybe it’s appropriate that we try to engage more.”

He said Natural Resources Wales (NRW) had documents which enabled local groups to set up defence committees.

“It would be a great help for members (councillors) to encourage people to do this because that is the difficulty we have had in the past,” said Mr Williams.

He was addressing the council’s environmental and public protection scrutiny committee on the subject of emergency flood response.

A report before the committee set out which organisation was responsible for what, and encouraged businesses and householders to sign up to NRW flood warnings.

It said the council’s response in a storm event had to prioritise life, risk of injury, and risk to strategic assets and council-owned assets.

The report listed 14 storms which had hit the region since the devastating Storm Callum in October 2018.

Flash flooding affected south and south-west Wales overnight on Monday October 4, with crews called out to Kidwelly among other places.

Cllr Hazel Evans, cabinet member for environment, told the committee that the council had to prioritise its resources, however much it wanted to help.

Its primary focus, she said, was roads and coastal areas.

“Unfortunately I think these storms will be with us for the the foreseeable future,” said Cllr Evans.

Mr Williams, in response to a question from Cllr Alan Speake, said NRW was in general terms the responsible authority for main river flooding.

Mr Williams also said the council was trying to improve the situation at flood-prone Pensarn, Carmarthen, by applying for Welsh Government grants and undertaking feasibility studies.

Cllr Deryk Cundy said the latest flood maps for Wales, which were published in September, indicated that “quite a lot more land” in his Llanelli ward of Bynea was going to be lost.

The new maps, published by NRW and the Welsh Government, identify four flood zone types and will be used by planning officials and developers to direct development away from areas at risk of flooding and coastal erosion.

Climate change is causing sea levels to rise and is linked to extreme weather events such as intense rainfall. Cllr Aled Vaughan Owen said the implications of this were apparent in the number of storms listed in the report.

He suggested that the committee write to the Welsh delegation heading to the forthcoming United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow – a recommendation which was endorsed by colleagues.

Separately, in March this year, NRW confirmed it would repair joints in the Llangunnor flood defence wall, Carmarthen, which was breached during Storm Callum. The work was due to be finished by late summer.

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