On 11 April 2017, the Government agreed the administrative arrangements for a once-off Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme for those primary residential properties that flooded between 4 December, 2015 and 13 January, 2016. This is a national scheme of humanitarian assistance, targeting aid at those worst affected properties, for which there are no alternative feasible measures.
The Government decision confirmed that a homeowner had to meet a number of conditions to be eligible for assistance under this scheme, including:
- That floodwater entered and damaged the building during or as a result of flooding during relevant dates such as to render it uninhabitable.
- That the property was the homeowner’s primary residence at the time of the floods.
- That the affected property must have a significant probability of the recurrence of the flood depth, duration or frequency on a scale that could cause further serious and similar damage to the home.
- That the property is not due to or may not benefit from a planned or possible future major, minor or individual flood defence scheme.
- That the property may not be protected adequately from being flooded in the future, at an economically feasible cost, through other flood mitigation works including minor works, individual property protection or other possible measures that can be considered at this time.
- That the homeowner is unable to obtain flood risk insurance.
An important element of the administrative arrangements for this scheme is an option for remedial works where a viable engineering solution is possible or known to protect homes from future flooding. Where this is not feasible, humanitarian assistance is offered to homeowners who meet all of the eligibility criteria for home relocation.
The OPW has been working in partnership with the relevant Local Authorities to undertake comprehensive assessments of 169 properties, individual information meetings with homeowners and a site inspection for those who applied for the scheme for which 38 homeowners were invited to make an application.
To date, engineering solutions have been identified to protect some homes from future flooding and work is continuing to explore possible engineering solutions for a further 35 homes. Offers of financial assistance towards relocation have recently been made to a number of homeowners who satisfy all of the eligibility criteria for this scheme.