Farmers faced with a three-year wait to fix breached river defences organised it themselves for a tenth of what it would have cost an environment watchdog.

The Tan Lan embankment, designed to repel flood waters from the River Conwy, was breached during Storm Ciara in February this year.

It was protecting adjoining agricultural land, six homes, businesses including one with 49 caravans and the main A470 trunk road through the Conwy Valley between Llanrwst and Trefriw.

When it emerged it could take Natural Resources Wales (NRW) three years and £150,000 to fix it, local farmers took it into their own hands and got the bank restored themselves – at a cost of £15,000.

The amazing story of local resilience and cooperation was revealed by North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd in this week’s climate change, environment and rural affairs committee meeting at the Senedd.

He said locals felt NRW had “washed its hands” of the problem which affected hundreds of acres of land.

Speaking to the committee he said: “There was an estimate by Natural Resources Wales of £150,000 to fix the breach but that wasn’t going to happen until a viability study was completed to look at options.

“That would take until at least 2022 and, by the time the preferred option had been identified and resources put into commissioning the work, it could be potentially three years between the breach and effectively being addressed.”

Mr Gruffydd asked if NRW shouldn’t have been in a position to get it fixed if locals could manage it themselves for a tenth of the price.

NRW chief executive Claire Pillman said: “It is not one of our managed assets. We do have around 3,000 that we maintain and keep up to standard and ensure they operate.

“But it is a hugely labour intensive and difficult cycle and, as you’ve demonstrated, you can maintain them up to a particular level.

“But equally, over time, they take more and more investment. We always need to look at the viability of that particular asset and the expenditure against it.”

Head of flood and incident risk management Jeremy Parr added: “We have to prioritise resources. We have repaired Tan Lan at various points in the past.

“It is done on a risk-to-life basis, driven by where communities are. We would like to do more but in some locations we can’t.

“That’s the honest position of where we’re at. We’re always keen to work with local stakeholders, to look at what the solutions are.”

He added: “The time may come, and this isn’t about Tan Lan as such, where we need to step back and put the line of defences somewhere else.

“Obviously that comes with massive consequences. I stress again that’s not what will necessarily happen here.”