I propose to take Questions Nos. 125 and 134 together.
It is likely that climate change will have significant impacts on flooding and flood risk in Ireland due to rising sea levels, increased rainfall in winter, more heavy rain days and more intense storms. The Office of Public Works has been preparing to adapt to these projected climate changes.
The National Catchment-based Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme undertook detailed assessments of flooding and its impacts for 300 communities potentially at risk from flooding. These communities are home to approximately two-thirds of the population, and 80% of properties potentially at risk in Ireland from rivers and seas.
This detailed assessment concluded there are over 34,000 properties currently at significant risk from a flooding event. The evidence provided by CFRAM Programme 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. Since May 2018, the number of flood relief schemes under design and construction, by the OPW in partnership with Local Authorities, has increased to approximately 90. Together with the 46 schemes already completed or substantially completed, this means that the OPW and Local Authorities have completed, or are now actively working on, projects to protect 80% of those properties to be protected in this decade.
The CFRAM Programme included an assessment of the flood risk that could arise in the future due to climate change. The two climate change scenarios adopted by the CFRAM are in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and national research, and include a sea level rise of up to 1m by the year 2100. These assessments are kept under continuous review by the OPW.
The OPW programme of flood relief schemes is taking account of climate change in their design and construction to facilitate adaptation that may be necessary in the future for the scheme to continue to provide protection.
As the lead agency with responsibility for Flood Risk Management, the OPW developed the Climate Change Sectoral Adaptation Plan that was approved by Government in October 2019. The overall aim of the Plan is to promote sustainable communities and support our environment through the effective management of the potential impacts of climate change on flooding and flood risk.
To deliver on this goal, the OPW has identified the following adaptation objectives:
- Enhancing our knowledge and understanding of the potential impacts of climate change for flooding and flood risk management through research and assessment
- Adapting flood risk management practice to effectively manage the potential impact of climate change on future flood risk
- Aligning adaptation to the impact of climate change on flood risk and flood risk management across sectors and wider Government policy
The OPW has identified a number of actions under each of these objectives, in the areas of flood risk prevention, protection, and preparedness / resilience, as well as in further research and capacity building. Current activities that are ongoing include indicative flood mapping projects, including mapping for potential future scenarios; pilot Scheme Adaptation Plans being prepared for new flood relief schemes; liaison with the Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs); and Research into the impacts of climate change on fluvial flood flows.