THERE could finally be a chink of light at the end of the tunnel for Cardigan residents at risk of flooding along the Teifi estuary.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has been discussing a design-scheme/proposal for Cardigan with Welsh Water and Ceredigion County Council for the past six years following serious flooding in the town.

Welsh Water recently submitted a proposal for a £3.7m flood alleviation scheme and now NRW hopes to finally put forward firm plans.

That will come as welcome news for those living under the constant threat of flooding – though any construction work is still a long way down the road.

Bethan Jones, NRW project manager, said: “We understand that flooding is a great concern for many Cardigan residents and the proposed scheme in Cardigan is high on our priority list.

"We have dedicated staff working on progressing the scheme and submitted an outline business case for the tidal scheme to NRW’s Flood Risk Management Business Board in December.

“If the business case is approved, this will provide funds to complete further surveys which will inform the concept designs.”

In a bid to keep up the pressure on NRW, the town council recently installed giant sandbags at the top of the slipway at Gloster Row in a bid to prevent flooding during high tides – a move welcomed by some residents but opposed by others.

At February’s meeting of the town council, one resident wrote in to say the slipway was not the main issue – rather that the drainage system could not cope.

“The drains are not fit for purpose and blocking off the slipway does not stop the sewage backfill,” said the letter.

Cllr Yve O’Neill said residents were appreciative of any help or ideas but thought the sandbags were more of a hindrance than a help.

“They are being used as cat litter boxes and kids are playing in them,” she added.

“People are happy you are trying to do something and they are not being forgotten but these bags are no use whatsoever.”

Cllr Catrin Miles said: “You can see it’s a sticking plaster and it’s not perfect and we do not intend for the bags to be there permanently but we felt we had to try something.

“I heard from NRW that the outline business case for a Cardigan tidal flood scheme was presented to the Flood Risk Board prior to Christmas and well-received. After minor adjustments, the hope is that it will receive full financial approval, aiming for design works during 2021 with construction later in 2022 or 2023.

“NRW have also invited me to a meeting soon to discuss short and long-term plans for the Gloster Row slipway and I will report back.”

Cllr Richard Jones said by putting in the sandbags it sent a message to NRW “that we are fed up with waiting and something has to be done.”

Lower Teifi Flood Awareness Group co-ordinator Kathleen Martin, whose home has been hit by flooding in the past, said: “Only recently we had three flood alert warnings in a week from NRW but fortunately we escaped on each occasion.

"There is still no no evidence of plans to have barriers to stop water coming unabated up the slipway at very high tides, with now at least another 18 months of stress for residents.

"In view of the prominence currently being given to mental health issues resulting from lockdowns, we feel the anguish caused regularly for residents and small businesses is not being addressed by NRW.

"For me, living 20m from the open slipway, the decision by Cardigan Town Council to place a temporary giant sandbag barrier has given me more confidence during flood alert periods against unabated water threatening our properties.

"Visiting the slipway at most high tides, flood alert or not, and walking the dog in the slipway area twice a day, I have not seen any abuse of the sandbags by animals or children."

Meetings have taken place with Ceredigion MP Ben Lake and MS Elin Jones in a bid to step up the pressure.

Fears had been voiced that Cardigan had been moved further down the list of priorities with flood events in other parts of Wales taking precedence.

Clare Pillman, NRW chief executive, said: “There are clearly lessons to learn and improvements to be made for all bodies responsible for flood risk management in Wales.

“While we can’t attribute every storm to the effects of climate change, the scientific evidence suggests that we are likely to see more of these extreme weather events in the future.

“There is no single solution, and the challenge is bigger than any one organisation can tackle alone. That is why all levels of government, the organisations responsible for managing flood risk, businesses and the communities at risk, all need to be part of the decision making, pulling at all the levers at our disposal to meet the challenges of a changing climate."