Historically, flood risk management focused on arterial drainage for the benefit of agricultural improvement. With increasing urbanisation, the Arterial Drainage Act, 1945, was amended in 1995 to permit the OPW to implement localised flood relief schemes to provide flood protection for cities, towns and villages.
In 2004, an Inter-Departmental Review Group, led by the Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for the OPW, published a review of national flood policy.
The 2004 Report of the Flood Policy Review Group established the following:
- The OPW is responsible for leading and co-ordinating the implementation of national flood risk management policy.
- Structural (i.e. engineered) flood relief measures would continue to play an important role in flood management but with increased emphasis to be placed on non-structural measures (e.g. flood forecasting, planning guidelines etc.).
- The OPW with input from other relevant State bodies, where necessary, to develop a programme to implement the detailed recommendations of the report.
This led to the development and implementation of the National Catchment-based Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme, which was designed to:
- Focus on managing flood risk, rather than relying only on flood protection measures aimed at reducing flooding.
- Take a catchment-based approach to assessing and managing risks within the whole-catchment context.
- Be proactive in assessing and managing flood risks, including the preparation of flood maps and Flood Risk Management Plans.
The CFRAM Programme was also designed to meet the requirements of the 2007 EU ‘Floods’ Directive (2007/60/EC) which was transposed into Irish Law under Statutory Instrument No. 122 of 2010, as amended by Statutory Instrument No. 495 of 2015.
The ‘Floods’ Directive requires Member States to prepare Flood Risk Management Plans, which set out flood risk management objectives, actions and proposed measures.