Thursday, 14 April 2016

Ceisteanna (148)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

148. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the measures he has taken since it emerged that the committee which was established four years ago to deal with flooding has yet to be convened; who was responsible for this and what the consequences are for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7136/16]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I acknowledge the Special Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General on Strategic Planning for Flood Risk Management.

The Special Report has highlighted the governance structures to implement and co-ordinate the 2004 National Flood Policy. I am advised by the Commissioners of Public Works (OPW) that the early meetings of the Interdepartmental Co-ordination Group set the strategic direction for the implementation of the National Policy. A number of sectoral led policy initiatives were then developed and delivered including the Flood Forecasting and Warning Service, development of Planning Guidelines, establishment of Memorandum of Understanding with the Insurance Sector and also protocol and guidance documents for flood emergencies. The Interdepartmental Group also gave strategic direction to the national CFRAM programme. As future whole of government policy initiatives would be informed by the delivery of the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) outcomes, the Group did not reconvene pending the outcome of the CFRAM programme.

I reconvened this Group in July 2015. The Interdepartmental Policy Group has submitted an interim report to Government in January 2016 and its final report will be aligned with the CFRAM Flood Risk Management Plans. This ensures that the CFRAM Plans are not being considered in isolation of the wider flood risk management policy implications for Government, including areas such as insurance.

The direction at an operational level to deliver the CFRAM Programme was set by the National Steering Committee. This was informed by the pilots and the policy direction by the Interdepartmental Group. Robust governance structures have been established and continue to meet on a regular basis for each of the six CFRAM Study areas. Given the study based governance structures, the OPW, as lead and competent authority for flood risk management in Ireland took responsibility for oversight and co-ordination of the CFRAM programme.

The CFRAM has assessed 300 areas at significant risk and impact from flooding. Having modelled 6,700 kms of watercourse, taken climate change into account and consulted with the public on up to 40,000 flood maps, the OPW's CFRAM Programme will deliver by mid-2016 the plans to manage the risk of flooding for the future.

In addition to developing the strategic assessment of flood risk through the CFRAM, the OPW has brought a number of schemes through design and construction. The OPW has completed 36 major flood defence schemes providing protection to approximately 7,000 properties.

The Government has allocated €80.746 m in 2016 for the Office of Public Works (OPW) overall Flood Risk Management Programme of which €52.561m is for the continued implementation of the OPW's comprehensive programme of capital flood relief works. There are currently five major schemes at construction in Bray, Co Wicklow, River Dodder, Dublin, South Campshires, Dublin, Ennis Lower, Ennis and Phases 2, 3 and 4 in Waterford City. There are a further 26 schemes at design and planning stage and, of these, it is anticipated that construction works on schemes in Claregalway, Co Galway, Bandon and Skibbereen, Co Cork, Templemore, Co Tipperary and Foynes, Co Limerick will be commenced this year.

Other schemes in the capital works programme will be advanced through the planning or Confirmation (Ministerial approval) processes and every effort is being made to progress some of these schemes to construction in 2016 also.

The OPW will also continue in 2016 to administer its Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme which allows local authorities to submit applications for funding to OPW for localised projects costing under €0.5m and which meet required criteria including a minimum cost benefit standard. The OPW has provided €29m through this scheme and provides protection to approximately 5,000 properties.

In addition to its capital allocation another €15.3m in non-capital funding has been allocated to the OPW in 2016 for its ongoing arterial drainage maintenance works programme under which over 2,000km of river channels and watercourse which OPW is responsible for will be cleaned and maintained.

The provision of €430 million funding for flood risk management has already been made by the Government and was announced in the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Plan 2016 – 2021 published in September 2015. This funding will enable the OPW to continue with the implementation of its existing programme of flood relief capital works and to commence implementation on a prioritised basis of the structural flood defence measures that will be included in the flood risk management plans being prepared under the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme.