The Welsh Government has announced "UK-first" laws that mean future construction projects will have to consider the impacts of climate change.

Current and future flooding and coastal erosion risks will have to be considered by developers under new rules for Wales, announced today.

The government's new planning policy advice will help councils develop their future local development plans and decisions on planning applications in areas at risk of flooding and coastal erosion. 

Climate change minister Julie James said there was an "increasing" risk of flooding and coastal erosion in Wales, with more changes expected.

"Some areas currently at little risk will become vulnerable to flooding as our climate continues to change," she said. "The planning system can help communities be more resilient to the effects of climate change by locating development in areas away from risk of flooding. 

“Improved knowledge of the places which will be at risk in the future can help keep people safe, by preventing the damage and disruption to homes, workplaces and infrastructure that flooding can cause.”

Under the new rules, new residential developments – as well as any sites for the emergency services, schools, and hospitals – will not be allowed to be located in areas of high flood risk without strong flood defences. 

If a local planning authority is minded to approve any scheme against this advice, Welsh Ministers will be notified and able to decide the application directly.

The national Flood Map for Planning will be used as a guideline, enabling planning decisions to take direct account of the expected impact of climate change on flood risk. 

The government said the map, which is published by Natural Resources Wales, would be updated in May and November every year "to reflect the latest modelling and data on flood risks".

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