I would like to thank the Deputy for raising this issue in relation to the outcome of my recent visit to Co Louth to progress CFRAM works for the area; and the status of CFRAM Schemes in the area specifically, Drogheda, Dundalk and Blackrock south, Carlingford-Greenore, Baltray, Ardee and Mornington (Co. Meath).
Through the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme, detailed engineering analysis, assessment and extensive public consultation was undertaken for 300 communities throughout Ireland, including 90 coastal areas, which in 2012 were identified as being most likely to be impacted by future coastal and fluvial flooding. The CFRAM Programme studied 80% of properties at risk from the primary causes of flooding in Ireland, in communities that house almost two thirds of the national population.
The key outputs of the CFRAM Programme were Flood Maps showing the flood risk for the 300 communities, which support planning decisions and emergency response, and Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMP’s) - one for each River Basin in the country. The FRMP’s contain proposed flood relief measures - informed by costs, benefits and environmental factors - to address the flood risk in each community and nationwide. As portions of County Louth are located in two River Basins, Louth is included in both the Neagh-Bann and Boyne FRMP’s.
The evidence provided by the CFRAM Programme, which was launched by the Office of Public Works in May 2018, supports the Government’s €1bn planned investment to complete 151 flood relief schemes through the National Development Plan 2018-2027 as part of Project 2040.
As part of this, Louth County Council, working with the Office of Public Works, has agreed to be the Lead Authority in the delivery of flood relief schemes at Dundalk / Blackrock South, Drogheda, Carlingford / Greenore, Baltray and Ardee, all of which are in the first tranche of projects to be progressed.
- The proposed flood relief scheme at Dundalk / Blackrock South, Co. Louth, for which the current estimated total project cost is €80.9 million (this also includes the budget for the Ardee Flood Relief Scheme) would involve a series of hard defences, including flood embankments and walls, rock armour coastal protection, demountable barriers, road raising, a sluice gate and tanking of two properties, protecting 1,880 properties when completed.
- The proposed flood relief scheme at Drogheda, Co. Louth, for which the CFRAM Programme estimated a preliminary total cost of €16.83 million, would involve construction of a series of hard defences (flood embankments and walls) along the River Boyne and improvement of conveyance, hard defences and a flow diversion channel on various tributaries, protecting 381 properties when completed.
- The proposed flood relief scheme at Carlingford and Greenore, Co. Louth, for which the CFRAM Programme estimated a preliminary total cost of €23.41 million would involve construction of a series of hard defences (flood embankments and walls) and two pumping stations, protecting 409 properties when completed.
- The proposed flood relief scheme at Ardee, Co. Louth will also be progressed directly by Louth County Council in tandem with the Dundalk/Blackrock South Scheme with full funding from the Office of Public Works, the cost of which is included in the budget for that Scheme. The work proposed will involve the construction of a series of hard defences (embankments and walls) protecting 7 properties when completed.
- There is one proposed scheme initially not included in the first tranche of implementation. The scheme at Baltray, Co. Louth at a projected cost estimate of approximately €1.93 million would involve the construction of a series of hard defences (embankments and walls) protecting 73 properties when completed. However, the countywide project steering group comprising Office of Public Works and local authority representatives, has decided to progress the development of this project simultaneously with that for Drogheda.
While the CFRAM process investigated possible structural flood relief measures for both Annagassan and Termonfeckin, economically viable schemes for these communities were not identified, and so a review of the risk in these communities and the likely costs and benefits is to be undertaken to determine if viable schemes may be available. The Office of Public Works has put in place a process for undertaking such reviews as recommended in the FRMPs nationally, which is currently being piloted in a number of areas, and it is envisaged that these reviews, including those for Annagassan and Termonfeckin, will be complete within the next 12 months.
In Co. Meath, the CFRAM process also identified an outline flood relief scheme for Mornington, and this was included among the priority schemes to be progressed in an initial tranche of flood projects announced by Minister of State Moran on 3 May 2018. The Office of Public Works is currently engaging with Meath County Council to determine how best to proceed with appointing consultants to progress the project-level development and assessment of this Flood Relief Scheme, including environmental assessment as necessary and further public consultation, for refinement and preparation for planning / Exhibition and, if and as appropriate, implementation. Meath County Council has informed the Office of Public Works that they should be in a position to commence work on appointing consultants in Q4 of this year.
When developing detailed Flood Risk Management options for the selected projects, the adaptability of the option to climate change will also be assessed; for example, in a Project where a significant increase in risk is shown under the future scenarios, options with the best climate change adaptability are more important, whereas climate change adaptability in Projects with low-sensitivity is not as critical. The appointed Design Teams will produce the detailed design of the options in areas of high sensitivity and will assess whether it is appropriate for the option to be designed to handle climate change from the start of the design process, or whether it is designed to be adaptable later, e.g. building extra capacity into the foundations of a wall to allow it to be increased in the future, or to leave undeveloped areas for flood storage to be added in the future.
The Office of Public Works has also established Engineering Consultancy Framework Agreements, which Louth County Council are using to procure services to progress the design, development and planning of each project and which will help to speed up the process to construction. In addition, the Council has been provided with additional staffing resources by OPW to assist in the implementation of these schemes.
The Steering Group for flood relief schemes in County Louth has proposed the following prioritisation for progression of first tranche projects for County Louth:
1. Dundalk/Blackrock South and Ardee - to be progressed simultaneously. The tender for Engineering Consultancy Services for Dundalk / Blackrock South and Ardee was advertised on 16 October 2019, with five tenders received on 24 January 2020. Tenders have been evaluated and the contract has been awarded.
2. Drogheda and Baltray - to be progressed simultaneously. The consultants brief for Drogheda and Baltray scheme is currently being finalised and is hoped to be advertised to the framework in the coming months.
3. Carlingford/Greenore. Progress on the Carlingford / Greenore consultants brief will begin following completion of the Drogheda / Baltray brief.
The Steering Group last met on 24 September 2020 where the project is now being progressed with the consultants now appointed on the Scheme. Louth County Council is expected to tender for environmental and design consultants for the Drogheda and Baltray Flood Relief Schemes in the coming months.
It is important to note that the measures set out in the flood risk management plans are not definitive and final, and that as part of the project-level assessment required to prepare the measure for planning/ Public Exhibition, more detailed assessments are required at a local level and further public and stakeholder consultation will be undertaken. As such, there is further scope for the community's views to influence the measures that are progressed to implementation.
Once consultants are appointed to progress each scheme, consultation with statutory and non-statutory bodies, as well as the general public, will take place at the appropriate stages to ensure that all parties have the opportunity to input into the development of the proposals within the scheme.