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The lessons learnt from February’s floods must be the catalyst for a seismic shift in how Wales responds to the climate emergency and manages its future flood risk.
That is the urgent call to action by the Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Clare Pillman as the organisation publishes its reviews into its response to February’s flood events today (22 October 2020).
The record rainfall and river flows triggered by Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge earlier this year arrived following an exceptionally wet winter and led to the most severe and widespread flooding incidents seen in Wales since 1979, which also impacted many of the same communities.
Investments made in NRW defences since that time have significantly improved Wales’ resilience to extreme rainfall. Across the whole of Wales, 73,000 properties benefit from NRW’s flood defences and it is estimated that 19,000 properties in South Wales escaped the flood waters during Storm Dennis due to the presence of NRW defences.
Yet the impacts of the successive storms earlier this year were felt across right across the nation as 3,130* properties succumbed to the ensuing flood waters over the course of the month.
The Met Office later confirmed that February 2020 would enter its record books as the wettest February on record and fifth wettest month since records began in 1862.
The call to action comes on the day that NRW publishes the outcomes of its reviews into its response to the February storms.
The RHS is today, Friday 23 October 2020, announcing its plans to safely run the 2021 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sponsored by M&G, with many new precautions due to coronavirus to protect everyone at the Show held at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.
For the first time in its 108* year history the Show will run for 6 days in 2021, from Tuesday 18 May to Sunday 23 May. There will also be reduced visitor numbers compared to pre-Covid Shows across the increased number of days.
Tickets will go on sale at the end of October (RHS Members 26 October, Public 30 October), which will see 140,000 visitors at the show over six days, compared to 168,500 over five days in 2019.
The RHS has consulted on its plans and believes, with the measures it is implementing, that it can operate the primarily outdoor event safely for everyone.
Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said: “We plan our Shows 18 months in advance and have been planning and researching how to open the 2021 RHS Chelsea safely and securely for our visitors, partners and exhibitors since April this year. We have taken the time to get all our plans finalised and will now be consulting with exhibitors and supporting them further due to the changes we have had to make. As the world’s most famous gardening event, RHS Chelsea is vital for the horticultural industry, as well as having a huge impact on inspiring people to garden and grow, which is so important for everyone’s health and for the environment. Whilst we continue to live in uncertain times and May is a long way off, we believe these measures will mean we can safely run the Show, although we will of course be ready to react to any Government advice and if we sadly need to, will offer anyone who has booked a ticket a full refund.”
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