Flooding of Pembrey Canal
Carmarthenshire County Council is engaging with the local residents of Pembrey on the issue of regular flooding of the Pembrey Canal and its associated cycle path, during periods of heavy rainfall.
The Pembrey Canal cycle path is a 4km long active travel route which runs from Burry Port Harbour to the north and then westwards, towards Kidwelly. It occupies the route of the former Burry Port and Gwendraeth Valley Railway, which was previously a canal and towpath. Today, the water element known as the canal exists along site the cycle path.
The path is used frequently by walkers and cyclists yet, unfortunately, during periods of heavy rain, parts of the path are flooded, which results in sections being closed off to the public. Understandably, this is a cause of frustration for the local community.
Preventing the path from regular flooding is a significant challenge due to ecological factors and the local landscape. However, as part of a wider management plan, works being planned by Carmarthenshire County Council may reduce the frequency of flooding.
The location of the cycle path, being in a former canal, means that water naturally drains to this low spot as the canal is flat and prevents water from flowing or draining as a river would. This is why, during periods of heavy rainfall, the path is likely to flood.
The canal is also home to a rich habitat of biodiversity, which includes water voles and badgers, both protected species, and managing their habitat is a requirement under the law. Considering how best to protect the wildlife, whilst identifying ways to manage the flood risk, the Council have undertaken a full biodiversity survey of the canal which will inform a maintenance plan for the canal and cycle path. Current maintenance of the path is further complicated by the need to manage invasive species that are also present in the canal.
Cabinet Member for Transport, Waste and Infrastructure Services, Cllr. Edward Thomas said: “We understand the frustration of the local community when they see that the cycle path is flooded regularly. Over the past 5-years, the Council has invested over £25,000 to manage the flood risk of the path, however, going forward, we are asking people to be patient with this process as it isn’t a solution that can be achieved in the short term.
“Whilst the path is a much-valued active travel route locally, there are other routes available for walkers and cyclists to use when it’s is closed to the public.
“The Council has formed an internal working group to oversee the management of the canal and cycle path. I must stress, however, that there is no flood risk to dwellings and businesses in this instance and so we will continue to prioritise the flood risk management to both domestic and business properties along with public highways before instances such as this.”