I propose to take Questions Nos. 111, 113 and 114 together.
Since 2003, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has completed major flood relief schemes in Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary, Kilkenny City, River Tolka in Counties Dublin and Meath, Leixlip, Co. Kildare and the first phase of the River Dodder works in Dublin City. There have been no reports of any flooding taking place in these areas following the severe events of the last two weeks. In addition to these completed schemes, the first phase of three major schemes in Mallow, Co. Cork, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary and Ennis, Co. Clare are nearing completion. The scheme in Mallow, involving the erection of demountable defences upon receipt of a flood warning, and although not entirely completed, was thoroughly tested by the recent flood event, and proved an unqualified success. Similar sized flood events have caused major flooding to homes and businesses in Mallow in the past. The parts of the schemes substantially completed in Clonmel and Ennis has also reduced the impact of flooding in some areas previously prone to such flooding from events of this nature.
The first phase of the overall scheme for Fermoy, Co Cork has recently commenced construction, and is expected to be completed by the middle of 2010, which will provide protection to the northern side of the town. Other areas where construction is ongoing include Mornington, Co Meath, Newcastlewest, Co Limerick, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, and a further phase of the River Dodder, Dublin.
OPW also has a number of projects at tender stage for a civil works contractor, which includes further phases in Mallow, Clonmel and Ennis. It is anticipated that construction works on these schemes will commence early in 2010. Detailed design of the second phase of the Fermoy scheme is currently underway with construction expected to commence by the end of 2010, subject to the necessary funding being in place. In addition to these, OPW has a number of other schemes at various stages of planning. These include Templemore, Co Tipperary, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, Bray, Co Wicklow, Arklow, Co Wicklow and several others, smaller in nature.
OPW also introduced two initiatives in 2009 relating to minor river works and coastal protection works. Under these initiatives, OPW may provide financial and technical assistance to Local Authorities on their application to carry out studies or works to address small-scale flood problems in their respective areas. Funding has already been agreed under both these initiatives for 2009, and OPW will shortly be writing to the Local Authorities again inviting applications for 2010.
Since the severe flood events of the last two weeks, OPW has been collecting data on all flooded areas, including hydrometric information and aerial surveys. Available information to OPW indicates that the widespread flooding that occurred in recent weeks was caused mainly by unusually prolonged heavy rainfall, which exceeded the conveyance capacity of rivers and drainage infrastructure. The OPW implements a maintenance programme in respect of the channels for which the Office has a statutory maintenance responsibility. It is the opinion of the OPW that, in respect of these channels, while this programme of maintenance contributes to the moderation of flooding, the contribution would not have had a significant impact on the recent unprecedented level of flooding.
Since the publication of the report of the Flood Policy Review Group in 2004, which identified the OPW as the lead agency in relation to river based flood management in Ireland, subsequently added to from 1 January 2009 by its taking over responsibility for Coastal Erosion and Flood Risk, a number of Flood Risk Assessment and Management Studies have been commenced by OPW throughout the country. The objective of the studies is to develop, for River Basins throughout the country, Flood Risk Management Plans, where a significant flood risk exists or could arise, that define existing and foreseeable flood hazards and risks within a catchment and the methods, mechanisms, policies and proposals for managing the hazards and risks in a sustainable, integrated, pro-active and holistic manner. The objective is to have all Flood Risk Management Studies completed over the next six years, to coincide with dates set out in the EU Floods Directive, with the Lee CFRAM about to be placed on public display before the end of 2009.
OPW has also undertaken a number of other Programmes, including a Flood Hazard Mapping Programme, Flood Studies Update Programme, Public Awareness Programme, Flood Forecasting and Warning Programme, Strategic Hydro-Meteorological Review Programme, and Research and Development Programme. All of these Programmes will assist in addressing existing and future flood risk by helping to focus on a series of measures regarding sustainable flood prevention, protection and mitigation. The OPW is not aware of any flooding caused due to interruption to existing drainage, because of road building networks and other similar works around the country. Such matters would normally be addressed by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government or the Department of Transport, as the case may be.