Written answers

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government

Proposed Legislation

12:00 pm

Photo of Mary UptonMary Upton (Dublin South Central, Labour)
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Question 280: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the actions that are to be taken in the aftermath of the unprecedented flooding which occurred here in November 2009; his views on whether development of flood plains has exacerbated this problem; his plans to pass legislation to ensure no further significant development takes place on flood plains; his further plans to revoke planning permission for sites that have been granted planning permission but which are located on flood plains; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44038/09]

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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As I indicated in my statement to the House on 24 November in relation to the recent flooding events, my Department has undertaken a range of measures and has instigated inter-agency co-operative initiatives to deliver a co-ordinated emergency response at both national and local level, through the local authorities' severe weather emergency plans. In respect of land use planning, I am committed to intensifying our actions to mitigate these adverse impacts for the future. The current flooding and other recent flooding events sharply illustrate the effects of inappropriate development planning and development management decisions in the past and underline the necessity for action to avoid such development in locations in which future flooding is like to occur, particularly on flood plains.

The First Schedule of the Planning and Development Act 2000 specifies, inter alia, that planning authorities may include in their development plans objectives regulating, restricting or controlling development in areas at risk of flooding. As highlighted in my Department's 2007 Development Plan Guidelines, where development is proposed in an area at risk of flooding, it is a matter for each planning authority to evaluate such risk, on the basis of a flood risk assessment where appropriate, and planning permission may either be refused, or, if granted, can be made subject to conditions requiring the implementation of measures necessary to alleviate or avoid damage due to flooding.

Reinforcing this provision, I published, yesterday, the finalised Guidelines for Planning Authorities on the Planning System and Flood Risk Management which are aimed at ensuring a more consistent, rigorous and systematic approach to flood risk identification, assessment and management within the planning system. These guidelines provide that:

· development in areas at risk of flooding, particularly flood plains, should be avoided unless there are wider sustainability grounds that justify appropriate development and where the risk can be reduced or managed to an acceptable level;

· a sequential approach must be adopted to flood risk management when assessing the location of new development based on avoidance, reduction and mitigation of flood risk; and

· flood risk assessment must be incorporated into the process of making decisions on planning applications and planning appeals.

These statutory guidelines, when taken together with the legislative measures in the planning code, provide a sound basis for planning authorities to identify, assess and take appropriate steps to manage flood risk in a sustainable manner within their area. I will continue to assess development and local area plans to monitor implementation of these principles at local level to ensure that future development takes account of these policies.


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