Thursday, 20 January 2022
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Flood Risk Management
34. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress on a national policy on flooding which was to have regard to climate change and was committed to in the Programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2551/22]
Climate change projections indicate that flooding events are expected to become more frequent and severe in the future. This will have a considerable impact on flood risk in Ireland, particularly where our cities and most of our main towns are located either on the coast or alongside our estuaries or rivers. Following on from the review of national flood policy, launched in 2018, the OPW Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMPs) are a roadmap for flood risk management measures that, in conjunction with flood risk schemes already constructed, will provide protection to approximately 95% of properties assessed to be at significant flood risk.
Building on the FRMPs, the OPW has published a Climate Change Sectoral Adaptation Plan for Flood Risk Management 2019 - 2024, in line with the requirements of the National Adaptation Frameworkand the Climate Action Plan 2019. The Sectoral Plan approved by Government in October 2019 includes twenty-one actions that are being implemented during this Strategy to meet the objectives of ongoing research and assessment, adapting our flood risk management practice across Government to effectively manage the potential impacts of climate change on future flood risk.
An Interdepartmental Group to develop a national co-ordinated and integrated coastal change strategy has been established by the Government. It will identify measures to be considered for managing the projected impact of coastal change to our coastal communities, economies, heritage, culture and environment and will set out options and recommendations for the Government to consider. The OPW is jointly chairing the Interdepartmental Group with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. The Inter-Departmental Group is advancing the drafting and finalising of its report which will be presented to Government for their consideration.
35. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the €7 million allocated in December 2019 to alleviate constrictions to the flow of water in the Shannon Callows between Athlone and Meelick will be drawn down; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1774/22]
48. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress to date on the €7 million investment in the removal of the pinch points on the River Shannon which will address the scale of summer flooding in the Shannon Callows; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1773/22]
55. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps being taken to alleviate constrictions to the flow of water in the Shannon Callows between Athlone and Meelick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1775/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 35, 48 and 55 together.
The Government has noted the study by the Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group that supports a programme of strategic maintenance to help mitigate flooding along the River Shannon and a further study on the removal of a series of constrictions or ‘pinch points’ through the Shannon Callows that can help to delay flooding in the area. The Government has agreed that the OPW will provide €7m for all of these works, of which €4m relates to the removal of ‘pinch points’ through the Shannon Callows.
Work is advancing to progress the project for the removal of ‘pinch points’ in the Shannon Callows. A Steering Group has been established to oversee this project and it last met on 16th November, 2021. A scope of work has been drafted for the appointment of a consultant to identify and manage all of the activities that are necessary to progress through the planning process to enable the commencement of these works. This includes the identification and completion of all environmental assessments. It is anticipated that the tendering process for this service will commence in the coming weeks. Waterways Ireland, on behalf of the Shannon Group, will act as the Contracting Authority for this project.
The works can only commence following the completion of the appropriate environmental assessments and after receipt of planning permission. This is a time intensive process and there are a range of variables outside the control of the Shannon Group that may impact on the overall timescale for delivery of the project.
I would like to assure the Deputy that my officials and I have been working with Waterways Ireland to progress this project as soon as possible and I last met with Waterways Ireland on 1st December, 2021 in this regard.