In November 2002 I initiated a major review of the State's approach to flooding with the primary objective of developing a cohesive national flooding policy. On 6 December 2003 I met the Irish Insurance Federation. It welcomed my decision to initiate a policy review and outlined its views and concerns due to the increasing risks from flooding. I indicated that the State would play its part in risk reduction and that, in turn, the insurance industry would be expected to act in a responsible manner. I established a group to carry out the policy review and I invited the IIF to make a submission to it. A submission was received and OPW officials subsequently met the organisation to clarify aspects of it.
These discussions, along with all others involved in the consultation process carried out as part of the review, have played a major role in shaping the group's draft final report. At present it is being considered by Departments before being submitted to Government for final consideration in the near future. I am confident that the recommendations of the report can lead to a much improved flood management regime in Ireland and will, in the longterm, substantially mitigate the impact of flooding on our society.
One of the key components of future flood management strategy is the development of flood maps. They provide valuable information to assist in numerous decision-making processes such as planning and development, flood works prioritisation and risk assessment. The OPW has commenced work on a flood mapping programme and its first phase will be completed in 2005.
I cannot comment on specific cases between an insurance company and its client. I am confident that the increased availability of risk information arising from the production of maps and other recommendations of the review, together with the implementation of a more strategic approach to flood management, will reduce exposure to risk. It will also provide a more accurate basis upon which insurance companies formulate their decisions on potential flood damage in the future.