Need to tackle flooding problems caused by Erne River in Co Cavan – Brendan Smith TD

River Erne

I welcome the commitment of Minister Moran to visit Co Cavan again in relation to flooding problems and the need for major drainage works.

The River Erne causes substantial flooding problems in Co Cavan and each year this causes great hardship for many householders and farmers.  A major river system, like the Erne, should be included under the Arterial Drainage Act 1945 and that is the only way that a major drainage/flood relief programme could be carried out.

Below replies to recent Parliamentary Questions I tabled in Dáil Éireann to Minister Boxer Moran –

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For Oral Answer on : 07/02/2019
Question Number(s): 18 Question Reference(s): 5951/19
Department: Public Expenditure and Reform
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
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QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to include more river systems under the Arterial Drainage Act 1945 such as the River Erne system; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

 Historically, flood risk management focused on the arterial drainage of river catchments to improve agricultural land. Maintenance of Arterial and Drainage District channels, designated under the Arterial Drainage Act 1945, is the responsibility of the OPW and Local Authorities respectively.  These include the maintenance by the OPW of the Boyne, Inny and Glyde-and-Dee Arterial Drainage Schemes in County Cavan that in 2018 included seventy-eight kilometres of river channel maintenance at an estimated cost of €460,000.

In 1995, due to nationally increasing urbanisation, the Arterial Drainage Act 1945 was amended to facilitate the OPW’s implementation of localised flood relief schemes to provide flood protection to cities, towns and villages.

The launch of the Flood Risk Management Plans in May 2018, following the largest ever study of flood risk in Ireland, has identified that Government investment is feasible to protect 95 percent of properties at assessed risk from significant flooding through flood relief schemes.

Together with this legislative amendment and in line with the Government’s 2004 policy on flood risk management, the OPW has no plans for catchment-wide arterial drainage schemes. However to target the management of flood risk outside of cities, towns and villages, in 2009 the OPW introduced the Minor Flood Mitigation Works & Coastal Protection Scheme.

The purpose of this scheme is to provide funding to Local Authorities to undertake flood mitigation works or studies to address localised flooding and coastal protection problems within their administrative areas. Since 2009, approximately €46.4m has been approved for in excess of 720 projects around the country which illustrates its many benefits to communities all over Ireland.

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For Oral Answer on : 07/02/2019
Question Number(s): 33 Question Reference(s): 5950/19
Department: Public Expenditure and Reform
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
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QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the plans of the OPW and the Department for Infrastructure Rivers in Northern Ireland to advance their work on a cross-Border basis to implement the EU floods directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

The EU ‘Floods’ Directive came into force in 2007, and requires the Member States to undertake a Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment to identify the areas of potentially significant flood risk within their territories, to prepare maps of the flood hazard and risk for these areas, and then to prepare Flood Risk Management Plans setting out measures aimed at managing and reducing the flood risk within these areas. The ‘Floods’ Directive also requires Member States to exchange information and coordinate in undertaking these steps in cross-border river basins.

It was agreed in 2009 by the Office of Public Works and the Department for Infrastructure, Rivers of Northern Ireland that a Cross-Border Coordination Group, supported by a Cross-Border Technical Coordination Group, would be established to facilitate the exchange of information and coordination in the implementation of the Directive. The Group has met on a number of occasions, and has ensured that information has been exchanged as necessary, and that there is a good mutual awareness of the approaches to implementation in both jurisdictions. In particular, for areas of potentially significant flood risk that are on or near the border such as Lifford in Co. Donegal and Strabane in Northern Ireland, the two organisations have liaised closely to ensure a common understanding of the risk and the appropriate measures for such areas.

In addition, representatives from the OPW have attended and participated in relevant meetings in Northern Ireland during the implementation of the Directive. Similarly, representatives from the Department for Infrastructure, Rivers have been members of the Steering Groups for the relevant Catchment-based Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Projects, and are also members of the National Floods Directive Coordination Group that is chaired by the OPW. This has helped ensure coordination and exchange of information on a regular basis at the strategic and operational levels.

The matter of joint, cross-border activity was considered by the Group during its early meetings, and it was concluded that due to legacy work and for technical and administrative reasons, the implementation of the Directive would not be undertaken by joint action. The Department for Infrastructure, Rivers and the OPW have however coordinated closely in the implementation of the Directive within their respective jurisdictions, as previously noted, and have also liaised in more detail on particular matters such as flood forecasting and hydrometric monitoring.

Further, more general cross-border coordination has also been ongoing in the field of flood risk management through bilateral meetings of the two organisations for many years, and through the Irish National Hydrometric Working Group and Joint National Committee of the International Hydrological Programme and the International Commission for Irrigation and Drainage that the Department for Infrastructure, Rivers are members of.