Publication of Draft Flood Maps for Public Consultation 20th November to 23rd December 2015
On Friday 20th November 2015 draft Flood Maps were published for public consultation to run until 23rd December 2015. This is an important component of the Government's detailed flood risk planning process, to get as full a picture and all possible information to inform and finalise these draft maps, so that we identify and prioritise the most feasible solutions to managing Ireland's flood risk. All details of the consultation are available on the dedicated consultation website http://maps.opw.ie/flood_draftmap_consult/ from 20th November. Books of Draft Flood Maps are availble for public viewing at the principal offices of each local authority.
In the past, flood risk in Ireland tended to be managed in a reactive manner, i.e. measures to deal with flooding were introduced in response to the occurrence of flooding and such measures were generally structural in nature, for example the construction of walls and embankments to contain flood waters.
The Government's 2004 Flood Risk Policy and the EU Floods Directive in 2007 have changed our focus of dealing with flood risk from being reactive to being proactive.
In 2011, the Government identified 300 areas that are at potentially significant risk from all flooding sources. Details of these areas and their designation is available on www.cfram.ie. Extensive and detailed engineering modelling has been completed for each of these 300 areas, known as Areas for Further Assessment (AFAs). Ninety of these AFAs are coastal areas.
These areas are typically communities, large and small, where flood risk is concentrated. The majority of these areas are at risk from fluvial (river) and tidal sources. Since being designated an AFA, the OPW's flood risk assessment of these areas has been conducted through its Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme and has involved, inter alia, the surveying and modelling of 6,700 km of watercourse. In a number of these areas the Office of Public Works (OPW) has already completed and/or commenced flood defence work.
For two of the AFA areas (Dublin City and Raphoe), the risk from flooding is due to intense rainfall (pluvial flooding) flowing through urban areas and ponding in hollows. The OPW and Dublin City Council have prepared pluvial flood maps for Dublin City and the Raphoe area maps have been prepared by the OPW.
The OPW has engaged in extensive informal public consultations to inform the draft maps. Some of these were conducted as part of the plans for schemes and the balance were recently held in remaining AFAs (up to April 2015); meeting local representatives, local communities and community groups to explain the draft maps and the CFRAM Programme. These informal consultations provided the opportunity for the OPW to exhibit and proactively discuss the majority of these draft Flood Maps to gain any additional local insight and knowledge to inform their development. The main flood maps being published under this consultation have also been available for viewing and comment for many months on the individual CFRAM project websites accessible via www.cfram.ie.
Comments and observations on the draft Flood Maps can until 23rd December 2015 be made in writing by returning a completed consultation questionnaire or online through the dedicated consultation website. Full details are on the consultation website and at the principal offices of each local authority. These maps have been informed from past flood events, available on www.floodmaps.ie. The information that would be most useful in informing and finalising the draft maps would be specific evidence of flood extents, depths or levels that either confirm the mapping, or that suggests a change in the mapping is required. This could include photographs, maps or reports of past floods, or accounts of personal experience of a past flood not already available on the Flood Maps website.
The draft flood maps published on 20th November 2015 (while significantly the same as those previously available as above) and the public consultation are in accordance with the requirements of the European Communities (Assessment and Management of Flood Risks) Regulations 2010, S.I. No 122 of 2010, as amended by the European Communities (Assessment and Management of Flood Risks) (Amendment) Regulations 2015, S.I. No 495 of 2015; that transposed the EU Floods Directive (2007/60/EC) into Irish law, and of the Government's 2004 Flood Risk Management Policy.
Accordingly while these draft extent and risk maps do not reflect the impact from climate change (not required by the EU Floods Directive), the OPW has examined and mapped under the CFRAM Programme for two future scenarios that take the potential impacts of climate change into account; and these scenarios will be used to inform the development of the Flood Risk Management Plans.
Each local authority has received a copy of the draft maps for their area and been invited to provide any observations they may have on the draft Flood Maps to the OPW by 20th January 2016. People whose land and property is shown to be within one of the three flood scenarios on the draft hazard maps can lodge, in writing by 21st December 2015 an objection stating their reasons. Full details, procedures and relevant forms for lodging objections are available on the consultation website and at the principal offices of each local authority.
Addressing Public Concern in relation to Flooding and the draft Flood Maps
The draft flood maps are not information on floods that have occurred in the past but are 'predictive' flood maps designed, in accordance with the EU Floods Directive 2007, to show the chances of different types of flood events that could occur in the future and their impact. They have been developed from detailed data, modelling tools and techniques.
These maps are draft and for consultation purposes only. The disclaimer attaching to these draft flood maps makes it explicit that they are draft and cannot be relied upon to inform decisions including commercial decisions. In advance of this statutory consultation insurance companies have been advised, through the Memorandum of Understanding between the OPW and Insurance Ireland, that these draft maps cannot be relied upon for setting policies, premiums or policy excesses.
Consultation on Options and Developing Flood Risk Management Plans
The OPW is starting the third stage of the Government's flood risk management programme that has:
· identified 300 areas that may be at a significant risk from flooding in the future,
· assessed and is finalising the draft maps for the flood risk in each of these areas,
· in tandem with finalising the flood maps is starting to identify the solutions to manage and/or address this assessed risk.
To ensure that we develop Flood Risk Management Plans with feasible solutions (to flood risks) the OPW is currently undertaking an informal public consultation in local areas. This consultation is part of the overall CFRAM Programme but unlike the statutory consultation on the draft Flood Maps is not a statutory requirement. Details of these informal 'options' consultations are available on each of the six CFRAM Study websites available through the CFRAM Programme website, www.cfram.ie
On 29 September 2015 details were announced of a €430 million 6 year programme of capital investment on flood defence measures as part of the Government's overall Capital Investment Plan 2016 - 2021. This substantial increase of over 59% in the level of capital investment provided in the last 5 year programme [2012 - 2016] will allow the OPW to implement flood relief schemes which are already at an advanced stage of readiness such as for Skibbereen, Claregalway, Bandon and Templemore. It will also allow the OPW to continue the design and planning work for flood relief schemes in the pipeline such as for Cork city, Enniscorthy, Arklow, Clonakilty and Crossmolina. In addition and importantly, the enhanced investment programme will enable the OPW, in collaboration with the relevant Local Authorities, to begin the process of preparation and planning for the structural works and schemes that are expected to be recommended under the CFRAM Plans.
These CFRAM Flood Risk Management Plans will be prepared during the first half of 2016 and finalised, again following a further and future statutory consultation, by the end of 2016. An Interdepartmental Committee is developing for Government by Spring 2016, the whole of government policies and measures to support the OPW Flood Risk Management Plans, to help individuals and communities prepare, plan and protect their lands, properties and communities from flood risk. Some of the policy areas being considered are flood forecasting and warning service, insurance, planning and development guidelines, community resilience and individual property protection.
Flood risk in areas not covered by the CFRAM Programme is not being ignored, and is being addressed through other programmes, such as through Local Authorities' own powers or through the OPW's Minor Works and Coastal Protection Scheme.