25. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount available over the next two years for flood relief works; if he will assign a sufficient amount for capital works in the Mountmellick and Portarlington areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53249/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017)
Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 25 together.
The core strategy for addressing areas at potentially significant risk from flooding is the Office of Public Works (OPW) Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme. The Programme, which is being undertaken by engineering consultants on behalf of the OPW working in partnership with the local authorities, involves the production of predictive flood mapping for each location, the development of preliminary flood risk management options and the production of Flood Risk Management Plans.
The Programme is focussing on 300 Areas for Further Assessment (AFAs) including 90 coastal areas, mainly in urban locations nationwide, identified as being at potentially significant risk of flooding.
The CFRAM programme has examined flood risk in the towns of Mountmellick and Portarlington and has identified proposed feasible measures to protect properties assessed as being at risk. This entails the construction of flood defences, consisting of embankments and walls. The OPW has consulted with communities in Mountmellick and Portarlington to ensure their knowledge, views and concerns in relation to flood risk are taken on board. There was an extensive response to the public consultation on the draft Flood Plans and constructive and wide-ranging observations were provided.
The Government has agreed an increased allocation of funding for flood relief activities totalling €430m in its Capital Investment Plan for the period 2016-2021 with the annual budget allocation rising from €45m to €100m by 2021. The capital allocation included in the Plan for flood risk management in 2018 is €70m and in 2019 is €80m.
The final Plans are currently undergoing an independent review of the environmental assessments by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. I would hope early in 2018, to seek the approval from the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform for the Flood Risk Management Plans developed under the CFRAM process.
Thereafter, I would hope to announce the proposed structural measures contained within those Plans that will be taken, through a prioritised approach over the coming years, to detailed design to protect those communities at assessed risk. This detailed design will include further environmental assessments, public consultation and cost reviews to ensure the project level measures are sustainable and cost beneficial. The OPW will work closely with Local Authorities to progress the effective implementation of these projects and, in certain exceptional circumstances, such as in Mountmellick, will engage proactively with the Local Authority in considering an appropriate response to address urgently the flooding in the town. In this regard I understand that the Chief Executive of Laois County Council has written to the OPW in relation to the recent flooding in Mountmellick and a meeting is to be arranged shortly to discuss the matter.