Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 5 March 2024

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action

Fish Migration and Barriers to Migration: Discussion (Resumed)

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I thank Mr. Casey for his opening statement. Members might indicate if they wish to ask questions.

I might start by asking about the challenge of the OPW remit. I accept it is not for Mr. Casey to say what the remit should be. His job is to carry out the functions of the OPW as set out in legislation. I am trying to explore the potential for nature-based solutions to flooding that might have a positive knock-on effect on habitats, fish migration and so on. Can Mr. Casey speak about that? Is there a move within the OPW towards more nature-based solutions with that challenge? It is not just fish migration; it is all kinds of biodiversity enhancement.

My second question is on the arterial drainage maintenance programme. Mr. Casey said it is carried out in accordance with relevant legislation through a range of environmental assessments including strategic environment assessments, appropriate assessments and ecological assessments. He acknowledged the importance of widespread stakeholder consultation. Is every project undertaken by the OPW put through those assessments or is the programme simply looked at annually at the start of the year? I am aware of projects in my own locality and I do not know if these assessments have happened. Mr. Casey might be familiar with the Newport river. A huge amount of clearance work has been done there lately and it does not seem right.

It is devastating for the local environment. There might be a drainage or flooding challenge that overrides the environmental challenge, and that might be the OPW’s remit or the view that it takes, but I am curious about whether individual assessments at project level happen across the board.


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