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NRW slammed over Llyn Clywedog flood; Farmer calls out body over'mismanagement'.

Byline: JEZ HEMMING Daily Post Reporter jez.hemming@reachplc.com

A FARMER has branded an environmental watchdog's handling of a mid-Wales reservoir as "mismanagement" after floods blighted 300 acres of land over the weekend. Maurice Jones said Natural Resources Wales' husbandry of Llyn Clywedog is causing untold problems for livestock farmers around Llanidloes and Welshpool. Heavy rains from storms Gareth and Hannah caused the dam on the reservoir to overtop over the weekend, swamping 300 acres across four of Mr Jones farms between Montgomery and Welshpool. He says he and his workers were forced to move around 1,000 sheep at short notice after the floods broke - which involved going across railway lines in driving wind and rain, due to flood waters blocking access points. He said: "We have had as big a flood as we have had for along time. "The dam was overflowing as soon as it started to rain. It's continually doing it. "It's called mismanagement as far as I am concerned." He claims the water levels are being kept too high by NRW, breaking an agreement with local farmers to keep the water plane lower during winter. Westerly winds create a wave which can cause the dam to easily overtop, he said. "NRW should be aware of that but they don't take that fact into consideration," he added. Tim England, Operations Manager for NRW, admitted they were still looking at ways to "refine the management" of Llyn Clywedog. He said: "We are continuing to work with the Environment Agency, Severn Trent Water and local groups to explore ways of refining the management of Llyn Clywedog to further reduce flooding. "We are studying current and historic flood events to seek ways of improving the process of releasing water in a timely and safe manner both before and after heavy rainfall to ensure Clywedog's flood alleviation potential is realised." Mr Jones, whose company AM Jones Calcourt Farms owns various holdings in the area, said he believes NRW is "trying to get out of" an agreement to keep levels down in spring. He added: "That dam was originally built for field protection on the River Severn on the Severn Valley. "They want to use because they top up the water in summer for Birmingham. "That's why they keep it as full as they do in spring. "They have got to keep the reservoir down in winter months." Another farmer, who didn't want to be named, said he had lost a lot of fencing during the floods. He added: "It's negligent by them. "There's an Act of Parliament in law that Llyn Clywedog is supposed to be down, not full, until May 1. "We've not seen floods that big since 2012. "We were reassured by NRW that it had been sorted at a meeting at the Royal Welsh Show in 2012." | Continued on page 2 In response NRW said the reservoir was built as public water supply source for English towns and cities but expected "an element of flood alleviation would be possible by helping to control water levels" - especially in winter. It said a study conducted in 2012 had looked at alternative ways of managing flood "drawdown" and ways it "could improve communication with catchment stakeholders via sharing of weather forecasts, river flow and level data and an open decision-making process". On the issue of keeping levels down until May 1 NRW said levels must "be reduced between October and March to provide storage of flows upstream of the reservoirs". However flood releases could not be made if river levels downstream remained high. Operating rules meant filling should take place between March band May 1. It added: "In the case of the recent overtopping, a series of rain events in the first week of March meant the reservoir filled to the prescribed level, this was then followed by storms Gareth and Hannah which provided a limited opportunity to draw the reservoir down, as river levels downstream were already at a high level and remained so for an extended time." Drawdowns were made, it said, on March 5, 10 and 11 but longer drawdown periods were needed to "accommodate a rain event of the magnitude experienced over the weekend". *Finally it said it was "reviewing the downstream control levels to determine if they can be adjusted to further reduce flooding". NRW also pledged to continue to "evaluate evidence" from flood events to "ensure the maximum flood alleviation potential of Clywedog is realised". The organisation has been under fire recently after Conservatives in the Senedd pushed for a motion to grant an "independent review/inquiry into the body's failings". The proposal was amended to "note the findings" of critical reports on the body by the National Assembly's Public Accounts Committee's inquiry into NRW's accounts and annual report for 2017-18. It also noted the damning report by Grant Thornton into the governance of its timber sales, published in February this year.

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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 21, 2019
Words:829
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