I received a report from the Commissioners of Public Works on the Shannon flooding problem in January 2003. This report outlined the background and status of the River Shannon flood problem. The report noted that the last significant investigative work carried out for the River Shannon was the joint Electricity Supply Board, ESB, and OPW initiative in 1961. To assess the potential for flood relief under current conditions the 2003 report noted that a new study would be required, to reflect the changes that had occurred in the catchment in the intervening 40 years. Such a study would need to consider a variety of issues, for example conditions in, and competing uses of the river, perceived changed climate patterns, changed agricultural regulations and practices, different economic circumstances for agriculture and other industries, the higher values being placed on environmental and heritage assets, and tourism opportunities. The January 2003 report provided a basis for further study to pre-feasibility levelin order to provide an updated picture of the options for flood relief on the RiverShannon.
Following consideration of this report, on 10 February 2003 I met with the IFA and a group of landowners affected by flooding from the Shannon. I decided to proceed with the pre-feasibility report so that accurate, up to date information is available on which to base decisions. A pre-feasibility report is an assessment of the flood risk at a particular location, potential mitigation options, and the potential economic viability of a flood relief scheme. In preparing this report, the OPW has engaged in extensive consultation with landowners and other stakeholders in the Shannon. I expect that the report will be complete in April 2004 and can assure the Deputy that it will be made available to all interested parties. Further action must await the findings of the report and the views of relevant stakeholders.