Thursday, 20 January 2022
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
41. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the engagement he has had with the National Coastal Change Management Strategy Steering Group in 2021 and to date in 2022; if he will report on the work of the group; the number of times the group has met to date; the details of reports he has received from the Group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2447/22]
The Government established the Inter-Departmental Group on Managing Coastal Change to scope out an approach for the development of a national co-ordinated and integrated strategy to manage the projected impact of coastal change to our coastal communities. The Inter-Departmental Group is jointly chaired by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the OPW and will bring forward options and recommendations for the Government to consider. The Inter-Departmental Group has met on 3 occasions to date and the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and I attended the Group’s first meeting. The Group is also supported by a Technical Working Group.
During 2021, to assist and support the work of the Group, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the OPW also engaged in a series of bilateral meetings with relevant Departments and key stakeholders to discuss the emerging work of the Group and for issues relating to coastal change management to be explored and reflected upon in the context of the particular operations of the participating organisations. The Inter-Departmental Group is due to meet again shortly to further advance the drafting and finalising of its report which will be presented to Government for their consideration.
Coastal erosion is a natural and ongoing process, which takes place around the entire coastline. The Office of Public Works (OPW) does not have responsibility for the preparation of a national coastal erosion strategy or plan. The OPWs prime responsibility in this area is the management of flood risk. However, the Government has established an Inter-Departmental Group on Managing Coastal Change to scope out an approach for the development of a national co-ordinated and integrated strategy to manage the projected impact of coastal change to our coastal communities, economies, heritage, culture and environment. The Inter-Departmental Group is jointly chaired by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the OPW and will bring forward options and recommendations for the Government to consider.
Coastal protection and localised flooding issues are matters, in the first instance, for each local authority to investigate and address. To assist Local Authorities in managing the coastline for coastal erosion, the OPW has undertaken a national assessment of coastal erosion (including erosion rates) under the Irish Coastal Protection Strategy Study (ICPSS) and the results of this study have been published on the OPW website. This data enables Local Authorities to develop appropriate plans and strategies for the sustainable management of the coastline in their counties.
The Local Authorities may carry out coastal protection works using their own resources. If necessary, they may also put forward proposals to the relevant Government Departments for funding of appropriate measures. Intervention or hard defences has the potential to cause problems further along the coast, any proposed intervention measures are best developed in conjunction with a formal coastal risk management study that has carefully investigated the problem and explored the full range of management options.
The OPW operates the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme since 2009, under which applications for funding from local authorities for small localised works are considered for measures costing up to €750,000 in each instance. Funding for coastal risk management studies may also be applied for under this scheme. The OPW guidelines for funding applications under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme, together with a full list of funding approvals since 2009 is available on the OPW website at www.gov.ie/opw
The OPW has approved €1.2m for coastal protection works, including coastal erosion, to Clare County Council since 2009. A summary of these approvals is attached.
Extensive storm damage has been caused in recent years to sections of the existing coastline and coastal defence within the area known as Liscannor Bay from Clahane to Crag Beach.
In 2015, Clare County Council received approval from the OPW to undertake a number of Studies in the Liscannor Area, including Clahane under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works & Coastal Protection Scheme. The Council commissioned a report. The study investigates existing and future coastal damage and its causes and proposes appropriate plans to best manage the risks identified. The four individual areas put forward by Clare County Council for assessment as part of the study were Clahane, Liscannor Bay, The Glebe and Lahinch. Clare County Council added a fifth area, Crag Beach, to the study in the early stages. The total study area spans an approximate length of 4.4km of coastline along Liscannor Bay.
The study report provides an estimate of the cost of the Clahane scheme at circa €1.23m (2016 rates, excl. VAT) and a Benefit Cost ratio ranging from 1.25 to 1.4. Therefore whiletheoretically there is a feasible scheme with a positive BCR of 1.25 to 1.4 and an estimated cost of €1.23M (2016 rates, exclusive of VAT), the outcome of this report means that progression of this scheme would lie outside the criterion of the Minor Flood Mitigation Works & Coastal Protection Scheme.
A meeting was held in November 2021 between the Office of Public Works and Clare County Council to discuss how a scheme could be progressed. It was agreed that as a first step, the County Council would bring the 2016 figures up to date and submit updated cost and costs estimate/ratio to 2021 rates. Following receipt of this information, the decision can be taken regarding how a viable scheme could be developed.