Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (254)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

254. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the Arterial Drainage Act 1945 was last reviewed; the impacts the provision of the Act are having on the biodiversity of river systems; if the Act will be reformed to meet the challenges of the climate crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7336/21]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Arterial Drainage Acts of 1945 and 1995 are kept under review by the Office of Public Works (OPW). In this regard, the legislation has been amended on a number of occasions, most recently in 2019, for the purposes of EU Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment. It has also been amended and Regulations have been made under it for the purposes of the EU Directives on Public Participation, Birds and Natural Habitats and Floods. The EU Floods Directive is cyclical, requiring a review of the Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment, the Flood Maps and the Flood Risk Management Plans on a six-yearly cycle and it necessitates climate change considerations to be included in the assessment and planning for flood risk management. Full details of the amendments and regulations made under the legislation are available from the Irish Statute Book entry.

The OPW has a statutory duty to maintain Arterial Drainage Schemes carried out under the Arterial Drainage Acts. These maintenance works are carried out in accordance with relevant legislation, through a range of environmental assessments, including Strategic Environmental Assessments, Appropriate Assessments and Ecological Assessments, supported by widespread stakeholder consultation. Further information on environmental activities and associated environmental assessments and studies are available on the OPW website.

To minimise potential ecological impacts, the OPW undertakes these statutory maintenance works having regard to a set of procedures called “Environmental Guidance: Drainage Maintenance and Construction”. This guidance was developed in consultation with the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Inland Fisheries Ireland.