Ireland – Government Sets Out Flood Management Plans

The Irish Minister of State for the Office of Public Works & Flood Relief, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran T.D gave an update on progress with the whole of Government response to Flood Risk Management earlier this week.

Floods in Ballyhaunis, Ireland, December 2015. Photo: Irish Defence Forces

Minister Moran said, “Flood risk management has in recent decades been a priority issue for Government to mitigate the damage and costs associated with flooding. The impact of flooding to the economy and the public cannot be overstated. To see homes and businesses destroyed by flooding, which is recurring, has financial and emotional impacts on the individual.”

Through the Office of Public Works’ (OPW) Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme, detailed engineering analysis and assessment has been undertaken for 300 identified communities, including 90 coastal areas, most impacted by flooding.

The CFRAM Programme has been Ireland’s largest ever assessment of flood risk and has produced the road map for the prospective investment by the Government over the next ten years in major new flood defence schemes to build on the existing comprehensive programme of flood relief capital works. The details of the flood risk and proposed feasible measures for each of the 300 studied communities will be set out in 29 Flood Risk Management Plans. The Plans promote how best to prioritise our resources to where its benefit is greatest. As part of the development of the Plans, the potential impacts of climate change are taken into account.

The evidence from the CFRAM Programme highlights that it would be feasible to invest in flood defence schemes to protect approximately 95% of those properties now assessed at risk from significant flooding. A programme of flood defence schemes is already underway at various stages of design, planning or construction. When completed, this current programme will provide protection to approximately 12,500 properties. A further 11,500 properties could be protected by the delivery of the new feasible schemes that have now been proposed in the Plans.

Minister Moran went on to say, “The Plans, when approved, will allow the Government to build on significant investment on flood defence schemes, since 1995, which has already delivered 40 major flood relief schemes, around the country. These schemes successfully provide protection to 8,500 properties and the economic benefit to the State in damage and losses avoided estimated at €1.7 billion. The development of the flood maps will assist Local Authorities in ensuring that local development plans are cognisant of the potential for flood risk.”

The OPW has submitted the CFRAM Plans to the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform for an independent review of the environmental assessments carried out as required for each Plan. This independent review is nearing completion and once observations are addressed, the final Plans will be formally submitted to the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform for approval, in accordance with the statutory requirements.

Minister Moran said, “I intend to seek approval for the final Plans in early 2018 and once approved I will announce a prioritised initial tranche of schemes contained within those Plans to be advanced to the more detailed project level of assessment. A new website will allow people view the flood risk (maps) and the measures (Plans) in place, underway and that are proposed for their area or location of interest.”

Minister Donohoe said, “The Government’s existing Capital Investment Plan includes an increased allocation for flood relief activities, totalling €430m in the period 2016-2021 with the annual budget allocation doubling by 2021. Based on the requirements arising from the existing programme of capital works and the structural measures proposed in the Flood Risk Management Plans, the OPW has identified the need for significant further investment in flood defences over the next 10 years, subject to the normal Estimates process and the outcome of the forthcoming 10 Year Capital Investment Plan (2018-2027).”

The Ministers concluded, “We are committed to ensuring that flood risk management continues to receive priority attention across the whole Government sector and we will continue to work closely to ensure the planning and delivery of flood relief solutions is achieved in the shortest possible timeframe. We are seeing major progress being achieved and we will continue with our endeavours in addressing the problem of flooding nationally.”

Source: Office of Public Works, Ireland