25. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the level of funding that will be provided by the Office of Public Works to Cavan and Monaghan county councils in 2017 to deal with flooding problems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3271/17 asked on 26 Jan 2017)
Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Seán Canney): The core strategy for addressing areas at potentially significant risk from flooding, is the Office of Public Work’s Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme. 300 locations nationwide are being assessed under the Programme, which is being undertaken by engineering consultants on behalf of the OPW working in partnership with the local authorities.
CFRAM’s Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment (PFRA) study, carried out in 2011, identified; Cavan Town and Ballyconnell, in County Cavan, and Ballybay, Carrickmacross, Iniskeen and Monaghan Town in County Monaghan, as Areas of Further Assessment (AFA) and are being assessed as part of the North Western-Neagh Bann CFRAM Study. These AFAs have been modelled, mapped and assessed for options to manage flood risk. Public consultation events were held in Spring 2015 on the draft flood maps, in Spring 2016 on the preliminary options and Autumn 2016 on the draft plans.
Following this public consultation process, the draft plans are being finalised taking on board the comments received. The finalised plans will include a prioritised list of measures, both structural and non-structural, that can address flood risk in an environmentally sustainable and cost effective manner. Amongst the feasible measures that may form part of a flood defence scheme, as part of the implementation of the FRMPs will be; structural defences built through the OPW’s Arterial Drainage (Amendment) Act, 1995; Local Authorities own powers; and/or the Minor Flood Mitigation Works & Coastal Protection Scheme. The plans, when finalised in Spring 2017, will be sent to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for approval.
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in September 2015 announced details of a €430 million 6 year programme of capital investment on flood defence measures as part of the Government’s overall Capital Investment Plan 2016 – 2021. During this time, the annual allocation for flood defence schemes will more than double to €100m.
The flood protection capital programme 2016 – 2021 will build on the very significant investment that has already been undertaken in flood relief works throughout the country over the last 20 years. It will provide the means to provide feasible protection to homes and businesses in major urban areas together with investment in many minor works projects to address more localised flooding problems.
In August 2016, I contacted the CEOs of all local authorities to acknowledge the significant work of and contribution made by the City and County Councils in addressing flooding problems throughout the country. In addition, I also reminded the local authorities of the availability of the Minor Works Scheme and to make the best possible use of the scheme to deal with localised fluvial and coastal flooding problems that may be eligible for funding under the scheme.
Under the scheme, applications are considered for projects that are estimated to cost not more than €500,000 in each instance. Funding of up to 90% of the cost is available for approved projects. Applications are assessed by the OPW having regard to the specific economic, social and environmental criteria of the scheme, including a minimum cost benefit ratio of 1.5:1.
On a national level, close on €38m has been approved for over 600 projects since the scheme was introduced in 2009, with over 400 projects already completed providing protection to 5,000 properties.