Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Questions (144)

Richard Bruton


273 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some householders who were flooded in November 2002 when the Tolka broke its banks, have been unable to secure insurance cover in respect of storm damage and flooding; if he will make arrangements to send members of the public the engineering assessment of the works needed and those undertaken to date, which would provide important information to insurers being asked to restore cover; if he will intervene directly with the insurance companies to protect, in so far as is possible, the interests of those who are so severely affected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2807/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Finance)

The final report of the river Tolka flooding study was published by Dublin City Council in December 2003 and details the measures required to protect homeowners against flooding along the river. The report is available on the Dublin City Council website and is also available to view in the Drumcondra library. Copies of the report in CD-ROM format are also available from Dublin City Council.

As the Deputy is aware an initial phase of works contained in the report has already been completed by the Office of Public Works on behalf of Dublin City Council. The OPW and the city council are committed to carrying out the next phase of works in the current year and discussions are ongoing to agree the detail and timing.

Although I am not in a position to instruct insurance companies directly in this matter, I have met with the Irish Insurance Federation, IIF, as part of the review I initiated on national flood policy in November 2002. I indicated that the State would play its part in flood risk reduction and that, in turn, the insurance industry would be expected to act in a responsible manner. At my invitation the IIF made a submission to the policy review group and subsequently met with OPW officials. This meeting clarified aspects of their submission and provided an opportunity for the IIF to be briefed on the State's overall strategy on flood management.

One of the key components of this strategy is the development of "flood maps". These provide valuable information to assist in numerous decision-making processes, such as, planning and development, flood works prioritisation, assessment of risk. In this regard, I confirm that the OPW has commenced work on a flood mapping programme, the first phase of which will be completed in 2005. I am confident that the increased availability of risk information arising from the production of maps, together with the implementation of a more strategic approach to flood management will reduce exposure to risk and provide a more accurate basis upon which insurance companies formulate their decisions relating to potential flood damage in the future.

The report of the review group has been circulated to all Departments for consideration before being submitted to Government. Subject to Government approval, I hope to publish the report in the very near future.