Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (235)

Robert Troy

Question:

235. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the consultations he has held with the various State bodies and interested parties regarding the serious issue of flooding along the banks of the River Shannon; the progress made to date; if he will provide an indicative timeframe as to when the necessary works will be carried out to ensure this problem is addressed without delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15111/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Office of Public Works (OPW) as the lead agency for flood risk management works closely with a wide range of other agencies and relevant parties to ensure a high level of co-ordination, co-operation and consultation in addressing flood risk nationally. One significant area of co-operation is in relation to the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme which the OPW is currently undertaking with its technical consultants and in partnership with local and regional authorities and other key stakeholders including Waterways Ireland, Inland Fisheries Ireland, the ESB and the Environmental Protection Agency. The CFRAM Programme is a strategic approach that recognises the need, in line with international best practice, to move to a more sustainable, planned and risk-based approach to dealing with flooding problems. Under the Programme, following public consultation, detailed flood maps are produced and flood risk management measures are assessed and taken to outline design. These measures will be prioritised and set out in a Flood Risk Management Plan. More information on the Programme is available on www.cfram.ie.

The core strategy for addressing flood risk in the Shannon Basin is the Shannon Catchment Flood Risk Assessment & Management (CFRAM) Study. The Shannon CFRAM Study is being conducted by Jacobs Engineering on behalf of the OPW and I am advised that good progress is being made on the project. The Shannon River Basin District covers some 17,800kms2 and includes parts of 17 counties. A total of 66 locations along the Shannon have been identified for further assessment under the Study. The output of this important project will be an integrated plan of specific measures to address, in a comprehensive and sustainable way, the significant flood risk factors in the Shannon basin.

Under the Study, work on Draft Flood Maps will be finalised during 2014 and Flood Risk Management Plans are due to be finalised in 2015. It is not possible at this point to state when any specific measures recommended in the CFRAM study will be implemented. Pending the finalisation of the CFRAM Plan, it is open to any of the local authorities adjoining the Shannon to apply to the OPW under its Minor Works Scheme for funding to assist with any small scale localised measures that the local authorities consider may help to alleviate flooding along the river. Any application received will be assessed under the Scheme's eligibility criteria including a requirement that any measures are cost beneficial, and having regard to the overall availability of funding. Application forms and related guidelines are available on the OPW website under Flood Risk Management.

The Shannon CFRAM Study involves public consultation with individuals and organisations who have an interest in the Shannon including property owners, recreational users, the farming community and environmental stakeholders. Consultations to date include the national public consultation process that took place during 2011 as part of the CFRAM Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment. The Shannon CFRAM Stakeholder Group met in October 2011 on the subject of Strategic Environmental Assessment. Two Public Open Days on the Shannon CFRAM Study were held in Athlone during April 2012. Presentations on the Shannon CFRAM Study were provided at local/regional authority meetings during December 2012 to June 2013. Public Information Days on Draft Flood Maps were held in Borrisokane, Co. Tipperary and Mullingar, Co. Westmeath during October 2013. The extensive consultation with stakeholder groups under the study is a recognition of the multifaceted nature of the Shannon river system and its diverse uses and functions. More information is available on the project website www.shannoncframstudy.ie.