Written answers

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

9:00 pm

Photo of Ulick BurkeUlick Burke (Galway East, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Question 160: To ask the Minister for Finance his plans to prevent the reoccurrence of flooding in south Galway; his views on the need for compromise between State agencies in order that works can be carried out without obstruction from some such agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2388/10]

Photo of Martin ManserghMartin Mansergh (Minister of State with special responsibility for the Arts, Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism; Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Department of Finance; Tipperary South, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Following recent flooding in County Galway, a Joint OPW / Galway County Council Working Group was set up that is tasked with arranging for the collection of flood level data, assessing the damage caused by the recent flooding, and identifying interim flood mitigation measures.

At its first meeting in December, the Group identified an initial action programme which includes a review of the final recommendations in the 1997 South Galway Flood Report in the light of the recent flooding with a view to identifying if flood risk in this area has significantly changed from the previous flood event. There will be ongoing examination by the Group of individual areas to identify possible local relief measures.

In carrying out flood mitigation works the OPW, like any other agency or individual, has no alternative but to take account of the wide-ranging environmental constraints on flood mitigation works. In particular, the OPW has to have regard to the EU Habitats Directive and other environmental legislation. Securing the necessary consents and licences for works in environmentally sensitive areas can be time consuming and not without cost.

The OPW liaises continually with the relevant State bodies involved in environmental protection i.e. the Fisheries Boards and, primarily, the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

The OPW is currently in discussion with the NPWS with a view to developing a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at facilitating more efficient and streamlined decision making in relation to environmental issues affecting proposed flood relief works. In developing the Memorandum of Understanding, particular attention will be given to striking an acceptable balance between environmental protection considerations and the need to implement EU and national flood policy which is designed to protect people, property and infrastructure.

While I am sure the different interests and priorities can be reconciled, I am firmly of the opinion that proper weight must be given to flood protection, where people are concerned.

Photo of Ulick BurkeUlick Burke (Galway East, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Question 161: To ask the Minister for Finance his plans to prevent reoccurrence of serious flooding in the town of Ballinasloe, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2390/10]

Photo of Martin ManserghMartin Mansergh (Minister of State with special responsibility for the Arts, Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism; Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Department of Finance; Tipperary South, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Following the severe flooding in many areas of Galway, a joint OPW and Galway County Council Working Group was set up in December to identify areas where localised minor flood mitigation works might be feasible. The aim will be to progress, as quickly as possible, in the short-term, through the minor flood relief works scheme, for which applications have been invited from Galway County Council that are identified for Ballinasloe, as acceptable on economic and environmental grounds.

In mid-2010, the Office of Public Works will commission the Shannon Flood Risk Assessment and Management Study to identify the level of flood risk throughout the catchment and produce a prioritised plan of measures to address the risks identified in a comprehensive and integrated way. The study will involve all of the main stakeholders who have a role in the management of the Shannon, with a view to ensuring that all flood risk factors are managed in a coordinated way. Ballinasloe and the River Suck catchment will be among the areas the Study will focus on.

Photo of Ulick BurkeUlick Burke (Galway East, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Question 162: To ask the Minister for Finance if he intends to establish a single agency for the control and management of the Shannon basin and water levels throughout the river basin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2391/10]

Photo of Martin ManserghMartin Mansergh (Minister of State with special responsibility for the Arts, Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism; Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Department of Finance; Tipperary South, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

At present, a number of agencies, including the ESB, relevant local authorities and Waterways Ireland have a specific statutory function or a responsibility in relation to the control and management of the Shannon basin and its water levels.

Future management of the Shannon must take account of relevant EU legislation relating to rivers, in particular, the Water Framework Directive and the Floods Directive. The Water Framework Directive, which is primarily concerned with water quality, is the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, operating through a network of River Basin District committees containing representatives of major stakeholders.

The Floods Directive requires that the level of flood risk in each catchment in the country, including the Shannon, should be identified and that a prioritised plan of measures be drawn up to address the risk in areas where it is significant. This will be done for each catchment, through a Flood Risk Assessment and Management Study.

The Office of Public Works will take the lead coordinating role in the carrying out of the Shannon FRAM. The study, which is expected to commence in mid-2010, will involve consultation with all of the main stakeholders, including the ESB, Waterways Ireland, National Parks and Wildlife Service and relevant Local Authorities.

I intend to transpose the EU Floods Directive by Statutory Instrument into Irish law shortly. The effect of this is, rather than creating a single agency as suggested by the Deputy, to give to the OPW in respect of flood risk, the necessary statutory authority to ensure the participation of the stakeholders in the process.

The EU requires that the implementation of the Floods Directive and the Water Framework Directive should be closely coordinated in each Member State. This provides the basis for the development of an integrated, coordinated approach to the management of all matters relating to the River Shannon.

Comments

No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.