Minister: Flood-defence funding of €1bn needed over 10 years

Priority schemes to get biggest ever investment in defences, with €130m for Cork city

Many coastal areas experienced flooding during Hurricane Ophelia. Sinead Murphy’s home in Kinvara in south Co. Galway was flooded, as were the homes of some of her neighbours. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

The Government will need to spend €1 billion over a decade to ensure that flood defences across the country are up to standard, according to Minister of State for Flood Relief.

Kevin “Boxer” Moran briefed Cabinet on a report outlining efforts to manage flood risks. Mr Moran, an Independent Alliance TD for Longford-Westmeath, said 130 schemes will have to be funded in the coming years, with 47 of those given priority status to be completed early next year.

He has submitted the OPW’s Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Programme to be independently assessed, before a final plan is submitted to Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe early next year.

The study was carried out on areas at risk of flooding countrywide and 130 projects are to be funded as a result of its conclusions.

Mr Moran, however, said priority schemes include the biggest ever investment in flood defences – Cork city has been allocated €130million.

Limerick and its surrounding areas will receive €57 million, as well as tens of million for Co Louth, with Drogheda and Dundalk covered.

Mr Moran claimed that flood defence infrastructure is as important as new Luas lines or motorways, with the priority projects expected to be allocated €267 million in total; the Minister said this will safeguard 8,000 homes. The complete implementation of the plan, and not just the initial phases, will lead to 24,000 properties being protected.

Mr Moran also said he had promised to complete the risk-assessment report before the year end. And his presentation of the document to Cabinet, he added, meant he had followed through on this commitment.

Members of the fire service walk through flood water in Mountmellick, Co Laois. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Members of the fire service walk through flood water in Mountmellick, Co Laois in 2017. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The report states that it is feasible to protect 95 per cent of properties identified as being at risk from significant flooding. It outlines flood maps, which will also assist councils in making sure local development plans are aware of areas that will be at risk of flooding.

“I intend to seek approval for the final plans in early 2018,” said Mr Moran. He added that a new website will allow people view maps of flood risk areas, measures already in place to prevent flooding and further proposed infrastructure.

Brian McNelis of Brokers Ireland, which represents insurance and financial brokers, said that local authorities must act quickly to follow through on the report. He added that such “investment will ultimately represent value for money for the exchequer, which should replace the need to find emergency funding when what has become the inevitable would otherwise happen”.