Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Flood Risk Management
149. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will consider the establishment of a single authority to manage and take responsibility for the River Shannon which would include key stakeholders, including a number of community representatives that have first-hand experience of flooding on the river; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3303/20]
The Shannon Flood Risk State Co-ordination Working Group was established by Government Decision in 2016. The Group was established, at that time, following severe flooding arising from exceptional weather conditions from December, 2015 to January, 2016.
As part of the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme, a Shannon study included 67 of the 300 areas in total studied with over 17,800km2 of river being surveyed and modelled and over 10,000 individual flood maps produced to highlight the flood risk along the Shannon catchment. The Shannon CFRAM involved extensive public consultation so that local knowledge and opinions have informed its output.
The output of the CFRAM Programme was the Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMPs) that include 34 new flood relief schemes to protect towns in the Shannon River Basin District, as part of the Government’s €1bn investment in flood relief over the decade to the year 2027. These new schemes will be subject to a public consultation process and are additional to 13 schemes already completed or under construction. Together, these will protect 95% of properties against their significant risk from flooding. Overall, work is now complete or underway to protect 80% of at risk properties. Details of these schemes are available on www.floodinfo.ie.
The CFRAM Programme and the FRMPs has informed the work of the Shannon Flood Risk State Co-ordination Working Group which was established to support existing plans in place and planned through to address flooding and to enhance the ongoing co-operation of all state agencies involved with the River Shannon.
On its establishment, a priority for the Group was to develop a Work Programme that was informed through public consultation days. The Programme together with local knowledge demonstrated the extensive range of activities and co-ordination by all State Agencies already underway to jointly and proactively address flood risk along the Shannon. The Group’s Annual Work Programmes are available at www.opw.ie.
The Group has taken a number of significant decisions since its establishment including:
- Targeted maintenance at a number of locations on the River Shannon.
- A study to examine the removal of constrictions resulting in lower summer water levels through the Shannon Callows, to help address the summer flooding in this area while maintaining the appropriate navigation requirements.
- A study to examine the cause, degree and rate of restriction downstream in the Lower Shannon.
- Pilot lowering of lake levels in Lough Allen to help alleviate any significant flooding event that may occur.
- A preliminary assessment of the potential for strategic maintenance on the River Shannon.
In January 2020, Mr. Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, announced that he has secured government support for €7 million investment to advance a planned programme of maintenance works and the removal of constrictions or ‘pinch points’ on the bed of the River Shannon at the Callows Region between Athlone and Meelick Weir to improve the conveyancing of the River Shannon. This investment, following public consultation, full environmental assessment and planning, as well as helping to manage flooding can support the tourism, navigation and agricultural sectors for this region.