Thursday, 7 February 2019

Ceisteanna (18)

Brendan Smith


18. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to include more river systems under the Arterial Drainage Act 1945 such as the River Erne system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5951/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Oral answers (5 contributions) (Ceist ar Public)

Very few of the river systems in County Cavan are included under the Arterial Drainage Act 1945. The River Erne is a major waterway which, unfortunately, causes serious flooding in parts of counties Cavan, Fermanagh and Donegal. I ask that consideration be given to amending the 1945 Act to include further major river systems such as the River Erne navigation system which is a critical waterway through the three aforementioned counties. The river rises in County Cavan and flows into County Fermanagh and on to County Donegal. There are particular problems in County Fermanagh and I have been urging the Department, with its counterpart in Northern Ireland, to address the flooding issues. Adequate drainage works will never be carried out if they are only done piecemeal under small-scale schemes. The River Erne must be brought under the 1945 Act and a proper programme of drainage and remediation works put in place.

As there is no time remaining, the Minister of State's reply will appear in the Official Report.

Let me say the following. The Deputy has asked me to visit the neck of the woods mentioned to see if something can be sorted out. That is a commitment I will give him. Later in the year I hope to meet him and other Members from the area.

When the Minister of State is finished here, there will be a job for him in the United Nations.

I am glad that the Ceann Comhairle thinks of me in that way.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

Historically, flood risk management focused on the arterial drainage of river catchments to improve agricultural land. The maintenance of arterial and drainage district channels, as designated under the Arterial Drainage Act 1945, is the responsibility of the OPW and local authorities, respectively. It includes maintenance by the OPW of the Boyne, Inny and Glyde-and-Dee arterial drainage schemes in County Cavan. In 2018 it included 78 km of river channel maintenance at an estimated cost of €460,000. Owing to nationally increasing urbanisation, the Arterial Drainage Act 1945 was amended in 1995 to facilitate the OPW's implementation of localised flood relief schemes to provide flood protection for cities, towns and villages.

Flood risk management plans were launched in May 2018, following the largest ever study of flood risk in Ireland. The study identified that Government investment was feasible to protect 95% of properties assessed as being at risk from significant flooding through flood relief schemes. Together with this legislative amendment and in line with the Government's 2004 policy on flood risk management, the OPW has no plans for catchment-wide arterial drainage schemes. However, to target the management of flood risk outside cities, towns and villages, in 2009 the OPW introduced the minor flood mitigation works and coastal protection scheme. The purpose of the scheme is to provide funding for local authorities to undertake flood mitigation works or studies to address localised flooding and coastal protection problems within their administrative areas. Since 2009, approximately €46.4 million has been approved for in excess of 720 projects throughout the country, which illustrates the scheme's many benefits for communities all over Ireland.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.