Ireland publishes Flood Risk Management Plans and announces €257 million for 50 new flood relief schemes, as part of a ten-year €1 billion programme of investment in flood relief measures
Speaking in Athlone today, launching a ten-year programme of €1 billion in investment in flood relief measures the Minister of State for the Office of Public Works & Flood Relief, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran T.D., in the presence on An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D., announced a first tranche of €257 million in funding for 50 new flood relief schemes to proceed to detailed design and construction.
The Minister said, “This Government has provided €1 billion for investment in flood risk management measures over the coming decade. The Flood Risk Management Plans published today allow the Government to build on significant investment on flood defence schemes, since 1995, which has delivered 42 major flood relief schemes around the country. These schemes successfully provide protection to 9,500 properties and the economic benefit to the State in damage and losses avoided are estimated at €1.9 billion. There are currently also 9 major schemes under construction and a further 24 at design/development which together will provide protection to a further 12,000 properties”.
Through the Office of Public Works’ (OPW) Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme, detailed engineering analysis, assessment and extensive public consultation has been undertaken for those 300 identified communities, including 90 coastal areas, that in 2012 were, at that time, considered most likely to be impacted by future flooding. The CFRAM Programme studied 80% of properties at risk from our primary cause of flooding in communities that house almost two thirds of our population. While the Programme assessed flood risk in all our large urban areas, approximately one quarter of communities assessed had populations of less than 500 people and half had less than 2,000 people.
The Minister said “Progressing these initial 50 new flood relief schemes, together with those 75 schemes already complete and underway, will protect 80% of the 34,500 properties assessed at having a 1% chance of experiencing a significant flood event in any year (1 in 100 year flood event). Evidence from the CFRAM Programme has pointed to the feasibility for Government to invest in a total of 118 flood relief schemes over the coming decade which will provide protection to 95% of those properties assessed to be at significant flood risk. While work on all of these has started through the CFRAM Programme, progressing 50 of these schemes from today to detailed design is being expedited by procurement frameworks that have been put in place and, overall, means we are tackling the greatest risk nationally”.
As part of today’s announcement, the Minister is making €14 million available to 19 local authorities to lead on delivery of 31 of these schemes, each estimated to cost less than €1 million. Minister Moran said, “The OPW and local authorities will continue to work together and utilise their combined capacity to progress the schemes through detailed design and construction during this ten-year Programme”.
The details of the flood risk and proposed feasible measures for each of the 300 studied communities is set out in 29 Flood Risk Management Plans, one for each river basin, that have been recently approved by Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe T.D.
Minister Moran also launched a new website, www.floodinfo.ie where people can view the community risk and measures in place, underway and now proposed to tackle flood risk in these 300 areas, and nationally. This map and plan viewer website is another important resource, to support planning, emergency response planning, and to empower people and communities to plan and respond to flood risk.
Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach, Mr. Leo Varadkar, TD said, “Flooding can have a devastating impact on families, communities and businesses. If your home or business is badly damaged or destroyed by flooding, the emotional and financial impact is immense. It also has a huge cost to the economy. For all of these reasons, the Government will spend €1 billion on flood relief and prevention over the next decade under Project Ireland 2040, our national development plan. Today we are announcing 118 new flood relief schemes, of which 50 will be advanced in the initial phase to detailed design and construction with investment of more than €250 million. I want to pay tribute to the OPW, local authorities, communities and all those organisations who worked together to develop these Flood Risk Management Plans. They are a testament to how this Government takes informed decisions on investment for major capital projects - by targeting investment against a strong evidence base. The Government is committed to the delivery of these Plans for the benefit of businesses and communities nationwide".
Minister Moran went on to say, “Today’s announcement for future investment builds on the €465m already spent by Government on 75 major flood relief schemes completed and underway. This investment has also supported completion of 500 localised flood relief schemes by local authorities under the Minor Works Scheme protecting 6,500 properties. Two-thirds of these are protecting properties outside of the CFRAM study areas. The Minor Works Scheme will continue to ensure that local flood problems continue to be identified and resolved, in tandem with addressing the flood risk in large urban areas. I can give my assurance that sufficient funding will be available within the 10 year capital envelope to meet all eligible applications from local authorities to progress with viable minor flood works”.
The Minister concluded, “The Government is committed to ensuring that the planning and delivery of flood relief solutions is achieved in the shortest possible timeframe. We are seeing major progress being achieved and, in partnership with our local authority colleagues, we will continue with our endeavours to progress flood risk management schemes nationally over the next ten years of this significant flood risk management investment programme”.