Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (133)

Brendan Smith


133. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if additional funding will be provided in 2021 for flood mitigation works that are undertaken by local authorities with particular reference to the need to approve projects in counties Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26730/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I am advised that localised flooding is a matter for the local authority in the first instance. However, it is open to local authorities to apply for funding under the Minor Works Scheme which was introduced by my Office on an administrative, non-statutory basis in 2009.

The purpose of the scheme is to provide funding to local authorities to undertake minor flood mitigation works or studies to address localised fluvial flooding and coastal protection problems within their administrative areas. The scheme generally applies where a solution can be readily identified and achieved in a short time frame. The works to be funded are carried out under local authority powers and ongoing maintenance of the completed works is the responsibility of the Council.

Under the scheme, applications are considered for projects that are estimated to cost not more than €750,000 in each instance. Funding of up to 90% of the cost is available for approved projects. Applications are assessed by the Office of Public Works having regard to the specific economic, social and environmental criteria of the scheme, including a cost benefit ratio and having regard to the availability of funding for flood risk management. Full details of this scheme are available on www.gov.ie/opw.

To date, over 550 Minor Works projects have been completed to the end of 2019, providing local flooding solutions to over 6,800 properties with expenditure amounting to over €51m since the scheme began in 2009. In 2019, €4.75m has been approved for 49 projects with €4.4m been drawn down by local authorities to end of 2019.

The OPW is currently considering applications for projects at Ballyhaise Pitch, Ballyhaise Cavan Rd, Breandrum Kilmore Lower, Corgarve Castletara, Mullinavaranogue Redhills,Drumliffe Ballyhaise, Knockateery Cloverhill and Aghadreenagh Redhills submitted by Cavan County Council and an application for Drumfalra, Ballybay submitted by Monaghan County Council under the OPW Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme.

Since assuming my role as Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, I have seen the benefits of the Minor Works Scheme and I am actively encouraging Local Authorities to avail of the Scheme and I will ensure that funding is provided for viable projects.

The OPW also has statutory responsibility for and carries out a programme of Arterial Drainage Maintenance. These maintenance works relate to arterial drainage schemes completed by the OPW under the Arterial Drainage Acts 1945, with the primary purpose of improving the drainage of agricultural lands.

The OPW’s annual Arterial Drainage Maintenance Works Programme includes the following river catchments in the Cavan and Monaghan areas: Boyne, Inny, Blackwater and Glyde & Dee.

The Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme, the largest ever flood risk study carried out in the State, culminated with the launch on 3rd May, 2018 of 29 flood risk management plans which propose 118 new outline flood relief projects on top of the 42 major projects already completed and the 33 major schemes within the existing capital works programme of the Office of Public Works (OPW). All of these projects are to be funded under the Government's 10 year flood risk investment programme of almost €1 billion under the National Development Plan 2018 – 2027 .

As it is not possible to progress all 118 proposed new schemes at once, funding of €257 million for an initial phase of 50 flood relief projects throughout the country was also announced which would be progressed to detailed design and construction, including the five largest schemes identified in the Plans and 31 small or minor projects under €1 million which will be progressed directly by local authorities. Aside from the 5 largest schemes and the 31 small or minor projects, the remaining projects in the initial phase of implementation were selected on the basis of those projects which would provide the greatest benefit in terms of the greatest number of properties protected on a regionally.

A flood relief scheme for Cavan Town has been included in this initial phase of implementation, and Cavan County Council confirmed in May 2019 that the Council would act as lead agency on the management and delivery of the proposed flood relief scheme in Cavan Town and a steering group, comprising of representatives from the Office of Public Works and Cavan County Council, is now in place to progress the Scheme.

Potentially viable flood relief works for Cavan, to be implemented as appropriate after project-level assessment and planning (or Exhibition and confirmation), would include Fluvial Flood Defences comprising of walls and embankments.

These measures have a preliminary Total Project Cost Estimate of €4.4m and would protect 110 properties. Cavan County Council, in partnership with the OPW, is currently finalising tender documentation for the procurement of Engineering Consultants to progress the development of this scheme and the tender is due to be advertised very shortly to the OPW Framework of Consultants.

Once consultants are appointed to progress the Flood Relief Scheme for Cavan, consultation with statutory and non-statutory bodies, as well as the public, will take place at the appropriate stages to ensure that all parties have the opportunity to input into the development of this scheme. In the meantime, the Council continues to carry out treatment of Invasive Alien Plant Species (IAPS) in the scheme area.

While the three proposed schemes in County Monaghan, for Ballybay, Iniskeen and Monaghan town, are not in the first tranche of projects to be progressed, the OPW and Monaghan County Council will work closely to ensure that they will be commenced as soon as possible.

Question No. 134 answered with Question No. 125.