22. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to develop a coordinated national coastal plan to prioritise the most at risk inhabited and to develop a unified approach to the management of coastal erosion nationwide. (Question 53063/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017)

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): The primary objective of Government policy on coastal protection is to ensure that in areas identified as being at greatest risk of damage or loss of economic assets through coastal erosion or flooding, appropriate and sustainable measures are identified by Local Authorities to protect those assets. Where such measures are economically justified on cost benefit grounds and compatible with all required environmental and other statutory requirements, they are implemented subject to the availability of resources.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has undertaken a national assessment of coastal erosion (including erosion rates) under the Irish Coastal Protection Strategy Study (ICPSS) and the results of this study have been published on the OPW website. The relevant reports and associated predictive erosion hazard mapping (to 2050) may be viewed at www.opw.ie .

This Study 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.

The Local Authorities may carry out coastal protection works using their own resources. If necessary, they may also put forward proposals to the relevant central Government Departments for funding of appropriate measures depending on the infrastructure or assets under threat.

Given an intervention within a coastal area may cause problems further along the coast, any proposed intervention measures by a Local Authority 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 management options.

The OPW operates the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme, under which applications for funding from local authorities are considered for measures costing up to €750,000 in each instance. Funding for coastal erosion risk management studies may also be applied for under this scheme. Funding of up to 90% of the cost is available for projects which meet the eligibility criteria including a requirement that the proposed measures are cost beneficial.

The OPW has published guidelines for coastal erosion risk management measures and funding applications under the Minor Works Scheme, available on the OPW website www.opw.ie.