Land use plan needed to combat climate change on ‘different scale’ - Taoiseach

Leo Varadkar tells Dáil climate change is ‘going to get worse’ but says Government is working on plan to prevent ‘inappropriate’ land use

Leo Varadkar speaking in the Dáil - 21/6/23

Ireland needs a land use plan while there is going to have to be “a much greater focus” on adapting to climate action, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Varadkar said climate change was a reality adding “it’s going to get worse”. He said the Government was working on a land use plan while the impact that inappropriate land use can have on flooding and drainage as well as coastal protections would have to be looked at.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions on Wednesday, the Fine Gael leader said the flood damage he had witnessed in Midleton, Co Cork last week was “at a different scale”.

Mr Varadkar was responding to Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns, who said the “grim reality” of climate change was that extreme weather events were going to increase and “we are completely unprepared for that inevitability”.


“The people of Midleton have been waiting for nearly a decade for a flood defence scheme and it could be another decade before it’s in place,” she said.

The Cork South-West TD asked the Taoiseach whether he thought it was time to come up with a National Land Use Plan and would the Government incentivise landowners.

Mr Varadkar said “we do need a land use plan for Ireland, we are working on that at the moment”. He said Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Pippa Hackett was leading the work alongside the Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, assisted by other Government departments.

The Taoiseach said the Government would push for the flood relief scheme in Midleton “as quickly as we can” and that such schemes worked.

He added that a memo had gone to Government on Tuesday around managing changes to the country’s coastline.

“Some of it has been happening for millennia, some of it is linked to climate change as well. I agree that we’re all going to have a much greater focus on adaptation as part of climate action. Climate change is a reality,” he said.

“Even if the world reaches net zero by 2050, and it might not, there’s a lot more climate change to come. It’s baked in, it’s going to get worse, there’s going to be more of it.

“And while us reducing our emissions will make a small contribution to slowing down climate change, the most effective thing we can do to protect our people and our property and our infrastructure is adaptation and we’re going to need a much greater focus I think on that in the time ahead.”

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times