The Meirionnydd Branch of the Farmers’ Union of Wales held meetings with Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales recently, and visited various locations in the Dysynni Valley near Tywyn in areas within the Internal Drainage District.
The meeting was facilitated by Mabon ap Gwynfor, the Dwyfor Meirionnydd Member of the Senedd, following previous meetings on site. The FUW Meirionnydd Branch is very grateful for his work and support.
Meirionnydd County Officer Huw Jones said:
"The site meetings were an opportunity to show the deficiencies in the drainage system, and the need for urgent action. Substantial investment is required to improve some floodbanks and the infrastructure and dredge parts of the river."
The Dysynni IDD is a complex system with a high and low level system, constructed in the 19th century and a masterpiece of Victorian engineering.
The Land Drainage Acts (1991 and 1994) set out the principle powers and duties of an Internal Drainage Board, which state that there is a ‘general supervision over all matters relating to the drainage of land within their districts, and have such other powers and perform such other duties as are conferred or imposed by the Acts’. The powers provide for Internal Drainage Boards to improve and maintain the drainage system, and regulate activities in and alongside the drainage system, other than on those waterways designed as Main River which are under the control of Natural Resources Wales.
Many farmers have held the view that it is rather disappointing that NRW find it difficult in this day and age with all the modern machinery available to carry out their Statutory Duties of maintenance, which was done by the Victorians by hand.
One of the main problems under discussion was that the River Dysynni has silted up in some areas, which is impeding the flow of the water. In addition, river-water is overflowing into the low-level system, and as a result, overwhelming the low-level drainage system.
Other problems include overgrown river banks, deteriorated embankments, weakening of river banks, poor quality ditching, problems with culverts and other issues in the low-level drainage system such as blockages in the outfall chamber. It was discussed that the weakened state of the river banks and ditching banks makes maintenance work difficult or impossible in many cases. Environmental regulations also limit the scope of such work. It was stated strongly that farmland, habitat and wildlife is in decline as a result of increased flooding in the Dysynni Valley, and that new sources of funding must be found to resolve the issues.
Mabon ap Gwynfor, Dwyfor Meirionnydd MS said:
“The farmers of the Dysynni valley have a legitimate concern regarding the water levels in the valley. The drainage scheme, which was devised in the Victorian era is an ingenious piece of engineering, and should allow water to drain from the valley to the sea, however water levels remain high there because it cannot flow out of the mouth of the Dysynni because of various factors, including silting in the river mouth. I was glad to be able to invite the Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales to meet with farmers and listen to their concerns. Assurances were given regarding a programme of works this year, and we also await a report on the impact of the excess water in the valley on biodiversity. Work must be done in order to allow the water to drain properly and for the farmers to be able to use the land without fear of flooding."