Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (199, 200, 201)

Dara Calleary

Question:

203 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason a preliminary flood risk assessment map of an area (details supplied) was released in to the public domain before the relevant information was finalised and the public consultation completed; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that insurance companies are now using this draft map as a basis to adjust insurance premiums; if he will direct the withdrawal of these maps until the process is finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35129/12]

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Dara Calleary

Question:

204 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the policy for the publication of draft flood maps on floodmaps.ie; the level of information the OPW must possess before publishing such maps; if they must complete site visits before publishing such maps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35130/12]

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Dara Calleary

Question:

205 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the draft preliminary flood risk map process for an area (details supplied) in County Mayo will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35131/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Expenditure)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 203 to 205, inclusive, together.

The Office of Public Works has published two catalogues of maps in relation to flood risk management in the recent past. The location of Swinford, Co. Mayo features in both catalogues.

The older website www.floodmaps.ie was developed as a key recommendation of the 2004 Flood Policy Review Report to inform future planning and development processes and was launched in October 2006.

These flood hazard maps have been used to indicate areas of land or property subject to historical or recorded flooding. Historic flood mapping is the mapping of observed flood events and extents as recorded by survey, photography, video, press, memory, etc. Historic flood maps are dependent on the availability of information captured about historic floods, and on the quality of that information.

The disclaimer on the website states that the information provided is intended only as a general guide and is not designed to be accurate at the individual property level.

The town of Swinford, Co. Mayo is marked on the Flood Hazard Mapping website with a flood point symbol marking the approximate location of a flooded area. No information is available on the extent or the area flooded.

In 2011, under a public consultation process, the OPW published on the national website for the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme, www.cfram.ie, a national catalogue of draft maps as part of the Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment (PFRA). The publication of the PFRA maps is provided for in the 2010 Assessment and Management of Flood Risk Regulations (SI 122/2010). These maps form the first stage of the CFRAM Programme, which is designed to assess and map the country’s river systems to identify areas at risk of significant flooding.

The objective of the PFRA is to designate areas for further assessment (AFAs), where more detailed assessment on the extent and degree of flood risk is applied under the CFRAM Studies.

Swinford, Co. Mayo was indicated on the draft PFRA maps as a Probable Area for Further Assessment and, following completion of the PFRA in March 2012, Swinford has been included in the designated list of AFAs as part of the Western CFRAM Study.

As with the Historic Flood Hazard Mapping, the scale of the PFRA maps is only to a level of detail at townland or conurbation scale and is not accurate and does not apply at the individual property level.

At a recent meeting with the Irish Insurance Federation (IIF), the OPW indicated to that body that any use of the PFRA maps by insurance companies to assess and decide on flood risk at the level of individual properties was inappropriate. The OPW will be writing to the IIF shortly to affirm this point and to forward a copy of guidelines issued to local authorities on the use of the PFRA maps and seeking assurances from the industry that the practice will cease.