Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Flood Relief Schemes

Sorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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332. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if a request has been made to his Department by local authorities for additional funding to deal with flooding. [44134/20]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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Local authorities are designated as lead agencies for coordinating the local response to flooding emergencies as per the Government decision relating to the “Framework for Major Emergency Management” (2006).

The arrangements for emergency management are seen as having worked extremely well, in particular the responses led by local authorities to flooding and other severe weather emergencies. All local authorities have an established Severe Weather Assessment Team in place, monitoring Met Éireann weather warnings and OPW EFAS advisory warnings and High Tide Advisories. Local authorities also have Severe Weather/ Flood Plans in place to support the response to weather emergencies.

The Covid-19 pandemic has necessitated changes in working practices, and my Department has made necessary changes and improvements, including providing a direct link for situation briefing between Met Éireann's forecasting and flood forecasting division and the local authorities in advance of any predicted severe weather event. My Department also hosted a focus group, organised by Met Éireann, in September 2020, where Met Éireann shared updates regarding the development of flood forecasting and warning and updates in relation to the naming convention for storms and general weather warnings.

My Department undertakes the Lead Government Department role, as set out in the Strategic Emergency Management (SEM) Framework (2017), in relation to coordination of national level response to flooding emergencies, where warranted. The Department's National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management undertakes this role and works closely with Local Authority Severe Weather Assessment Teams.

The flooding events that my Department have responded to in its role as lead Government Department in 2020 to date are set out below:

February 2020 - River Shannon (numerous areas)

June 2020 - Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

July 2020 - Kenmare, Sneem, Co. Kerry

August 2020 - Skibbereen, Youghal, Bantry and Bandon, Co. Cork

September 2020 - Clifden, Co. Galway

October 2020 - Cork City, Cork County

November 2020 - Cork City, Cork County

Since 2009, my Department has made financial support available to assist local authorities in meeting the unbudgeted costs of clean-up and necessary immediate works, such as staff overtime and hire of plant and contractors, associated with significant severe weather emergency events, including flooding. This is in recognition of the exceptional nature of activities carried out by local authorities in responding to these types of emergencies and the fact that the costs of these un-programmed activities cannot be met from within existing resources. This practice is considered a vital enabler of local authority response, providing the assurance that availability of resources is not a limiting factor in providing a very effective local response.

In the context of the flooding which has occurred during 2020, the exceptional nature of the response activities carried out by local authorities, and the fact that the costs of these activities were not budgeted for within existing resources, requests were made to support the funding of the significant costs of the response, clean-up and necessary immediate works. My Department will be providing €523,000 towards the costs incurred by local authorities to undertake un-programmed works associated with flooding events that have occurred in 2020.

In each flooding event, DEASP Humanitarian Aid for flooding is operational and available to persons affected. Small businesses impacted by flooding who do not have insurance may apply for assistance under the scheme activated by DBEI and operated through the Irish Red Cross.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) is the lead organisation for flood risk management in Ireland. The OPW has set out in Flood Plans how that flood risk is to be managed through investment in flood relief schemes and other policy measures. The Flood Plans detail the flood risk and proposed feasible flood risk management measures for 300 areas of significant flood risk throughout the country.

My Department's Lead Government Department role includes preparation of review reports into the response to flooding emergencies where national level coordination is activated. The most recent is the Review Report on Severe Weather Events 2017-2018, which is available on my Department's website at the following link:

This report was considered by the Government Task Force for Emergency Management and published by my Department in December 2019. This Department has implemented the recommendations relating to the Local Government sector, and inter-agency recommendations are progressed via the Government Task Force.

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