Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW ) and Flood Relief, Seán Canney, says there was a “record” level of investment in addressing and alleviating flood risk in 2016.
Some €52 million which was made available to his Office for flood relief was spent during the year on measures to protect individuals, families, communities, and businesses against the most serious risk and impact of flooding.
Minister Canney said the OPW had made significant progress during the year in advancing its flood risk capital programme and that, currently, there are an unprecedented 35 major flood relief schemes at various stages of advancement.
“Seven major schemes have commenced construction [in 2016] with a record 12 major schemes now at various stages of construction, representing a three-fold increase on the position last year. Under the Minor Works Scheme, 400 projects have been completed by local authorities with funding provided by the OPW since 2009. In 2016 alone, 82 applications have been approved by my Office for funding with a combined value of €4.3 million,” said the Minister.
Substantial progress has also been made in advancing the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM ) Programme.
“The CFRAM Programme is the largest flood risk management planning programme ever undertaken by the State. Under this programme 29 draft Flood Risk Management Plans have been published by the OPW for public consultation since July with feasible flood relief measures identified to provide protection to at risk properties in 300 at-risk assessed areas. The draft plans under the programme will be finalised in spring when the submissions from the statutory public consultation process have been fully considered.”
Minister Canney says Ireland is now more prepared than ever to tackle flood risk.
“We have invested some €460 million in flood risk management since 1995 and there are now 7,000 properties being protected by the 37 major flood defence schemes that have been completed during this timeframe. A further 5,000 properties are being protected through the 400 projects that have been completed under the Minor Works Scheme and some 650,000 acres of agricultural land are being protected through the programmed maintenance of 11,500 km of river channels by the OPW under the Arterial Drainage Acts.
“We have a planned and strategic approach in place in the OPW to tackle flood risk which has been confirmed by external experts to be in line with best international practice. This Government has fully embraced this approach and has provided an unprecedented level of investment of €430 million for flood risk management in the Capital Investment Plan for 2016 to 2021.
“I am confident that the OPW is well positioned to build on the strong performance that it has achieved in 2016 and that the target set in the Capital Investment Plan to ramp up annual spending from the current level to €100 million per annum by 2021 will be attained by the OPW for the benefit of communities and businesses affected by flood risk.”