14. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps he has taken to ensure that Fingal County Council using available funds is acting to prevent further damage to dunes at Portrane, County Dublin. (Question 47150/17 asked on 09 Nov 2017)
Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): I propose to take Questions Nos. 14 and 26 together.
I am very aware of the problems that coastal communities face in dealing with the erosion of soft coastline particularly given the severe weather events we have experienced in this country in recent years. I am aware from my recent visit to Donegal the issues associated with erosion of soft coastal defences. I can assure the Deputy that work is being carried out to address the problem at both a strategic level and through the local authorities responding to localised coastal erosion issues.
Coastal erosion is a natural, ongoing process which takes place around the coastline of Ireland. The Irish Coastal Protection Strategy Study (ICPSS) has surveyed and assessed the coastal erosion risk along the entire national coastline and this information is available to all Local Authorities to enable them to develop appropriate plans and strategies for the sustainable management of the coastline in their counties including the identification, prioritisation and, subject to the availability of resources, the implementation of coastal protection works both of a structural and non-structural nature. Details of the ICPSS are available on the Office of Public Works (OPW) website www.opw.ie. Because intervention within a coastal area may cause problems further along the coast, any proposed intervention measures are best developed in conjunction with a formal coastal erosion risk management study which has carefully investigated the problem and explored the full range of possible management options. The OPW is prepared to fund such studies, where warranted, in advance of any proposed erosion management works or measures.
The coastal zone management in the area indicated by the Deputy is a matter for Fingal County Council in the first instance. The Council must assess the problem and, if it is considered that specific measures and works are required, it is open to the Council to apply for funding under the OPW Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme. Any application received will be assessed under the eligibility criteria, which include a requirement that any measures are cost beneficial, and having regard to the overall availability of funding.
Fingal County Council applied for and was approved funding of €57,800 under this scheme in 2012 to carry out a Coastal Erosion Risk Management Study from Portrane to Rush. The funding was drawn down in 2013 following completion of the study.
Following the severe storms of Winter 2013/2014 and on foot of submissions made by the local authority, total funding of €200,000 was allocated by the OPW to Fingal County Council under the Government decision S180/20/10/1272 of 11 February 2014 to allocate funding for the repair of damaged coastal protection infrastructure. Part of this funding was for a dunes repair project at Burrow beach, Portrane. I am advised that this project was not proceeded with by the Council at the time and the Council indicated that this would form part of a separate application under the Minor Works scheme.
The OPW is not currently in receipt of an application from Fingal County Council under the Minor Works Scheme for works at Portrane. The OPW will liaise with the Council as appropriate in this regard should an application be received. I understand that the Council is working to identify an appropriate and sustainable solution to the problem at Portrane, with particular reference to environmental considerations, in advance of submitting an application to the OPW for funding to carry out works.