Who is responsible for managing flood risk in Ireland?
The OPW has responsibility for leading and co-ordinating the implementation of the National Flood Risk Policy approved in 2004, which involves the development of a planned programme of prioritised feasible works, with a greater emphasis on non-structural measures.
The OPW is delivering a multi-annual programme of capital investment in flood relief measures including major and minor works schemes and has now planned for future measures for areas of significant flood risk.
The OPW coordinates the sectoral activities of other Departments and Agencies through the Inter-Departmental Flood Policy Coordination Group and the Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-Ordination Working Group. Further information on the role of the OPW can be found at www.opw.ie .
Who is responsible for responding to a specific flood event?
In the event of a flood, the local authorities and emergency services will provide the principal response at a local level.
The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is designated “Lead Government Department” (LGD) for co-ordinating the response to severe weather and flooding crises. The Department has undertaken this role in relation to severe weather and flooding crises since 2009. During these crises, the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management has convened and chaired the “National Emergency Co-ordination Group” on behalf of the Department.
During periods of severe weather, it is important to obtain the latest information, by listening to the weather information and weather warnings from Met Éireann, usually delivered during the weather forecast. Information will also be available during severe weather on the Twitter feed of the Office of Emergency Planning @emergencyIE and Met Éireann @MetEireann.
What are Flood Plans?
The Flood Risk Management Plans (Flood Plans) identify the known risk from flooding in the communities most at risk and set out the Government’s agreed objectives to target and take forward feasible action and resources in the areas where they can achieve most.
In focusing on these ‘at-risk’ communities the Flood Plans help provide information about those measures that can tackle flooding across the country. The Flood Plans also help to increase awareness of flood risk, improve understanding of how it can affect us and how people and communities can plan what they can do to help mitigate the damage and impact from flooding in their areas.
The Flood Plans have been approved by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and are available to download in the Publications section of this website along with all supporting documentation.
Through our Flood Plans Viewer, users can view a summary of the flood risk management measures as set out in the Flood Plans.
Why has it taken so long to prepare the Flood Plans?
The Flood Plans have been developed under the National CFRAM Programme, which has been by far the largest programme of work of its kind undertaken in the country. The Programme has involved detailed ground-based surveys of around 6,500kms of river, the production of thousands of flood maps and the detailed assessment of possible flood risk management measures for communities all around the country. The Programme has set out for the first time a comprehensive set of Flood Plans for the sustainable management of flood risk in Ireland. A Programme of this scale requires hundreds of person-years of work, and so naturally takes time to complete.
Is there a Flood Plan for every part of the Country?
There are 29 Flood Plans each representing separate River Basins and together covering the whole country. While the 29 Flood Plans were developed by focussing on 300 communities where the risk was designated at being potentially significant, they also highlight those measures to tackle flooding throughout the country.
These 300 communities were chosen in 2012 from information on past flooding, some high-level engineering assessment of flood risk and public consultation. These 300 communities are technically called Areas for Further Assessment in the Flood Plans.
In addition to the 300 areas that were the focus of the CFRAM Programme, a small number of other areas were also assessed through four pilot CFRAM programmes, or have rural or small flood relief schemes already in place or in progress. These other areas have been referenced in the Flood Risk Management Plans.
What if my community was not assessed?
The CFRAM Programme, which developed the Flood Plans, has focused on the areas where the risk has been assessed as being potentially significant. These areas were identified through a national screening assessment called a Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment (PFRA). These areas are typically communities, large and small, where flood risk is concentrated.
It is recognised that flooding is a threat to other communities, and the measures applicable in all areas that are set out in the Flood Plans can help to manage or reduce the risk in those communities. In particular, the OPW Minor Works Programme, through which the OPW provides funding to local authorities to implement local solutions to local flood problems, has already helped to reduce flood risk in many of these other communities.
What types of measures are proposed in the Flood Plans?
The Flood Plans describe structural and non-structural measures already in place or underway at a national, catchment or community level but also propose some new measures.
Structural measures are typically structural flood relief works, such as flood defence walls or embankments, works to improve channel conveyance or the storage or diversion of flood flows. The Flood Plans propose new flood relief schemes for 122 communities throughout the country which will protect 11,500 properties.
Non-structural measures can benefit all at risk communities and properties and include:
- Sustainable Planning
- Land Use Management and Natural Flood Risk Management
- National Flood Forecasting and Warning Service
- Individual Property Protection (IPP)
- Community Resilience
The Interdepartmental Flood Policy Co-ordination Group is continuing its work to bring forward further feasible non-structural proposals for Government’s consideration to support and assist households and communities.
How did the OPW decide what the proposed measures would be?
A wide variety of possible measures were considered for each community at risk. The choice as to which measure might be most suitable for a given community took into account a range of factors, including:
- whether the measure would be effective in reducing the flood risk,
- the benefits and impacts of the measure on people, community and society, businesses, agriculture, infrastructure, the environment and the local cultural heritage,
- the costs of the measures relative to their potential benefits in terms of reducing flood damage, and
- local opinion on which measure would be most suitable.
The range of potentially viable measures were consulted on locally through Public Consultation Days and also through a formal national consultation process on the Draft Flood Plans. Local views and consultation submissions have been taken into account in determining which measure would be proposed in the final Flood Plans.
Further local consultation will be undertaken before the implementation of a flood relief scheme proceeds.
Are the proposed new flood relief schemes ready to be built?
Any structural flood relief scheme invested by Government has to be technically, economically and environmentally viable and suitable for progression through planning. The structural measures proposed in the Flood Plans will be brought through project-level development that includes local surveys and investigations, project-led environmental assessments, detailed design, further public and stakeholder engagement and a local Public Exhibition or submission for planning approval or confirmation.
The proposed measures will also undergo a further cost benefit analysis following detailed design to ensure the scheme remains feasible.
When will the proposed scheme for my area be built?
Delivery of this capital works programme will be underpinned by a total investment of up to €940 million over the lifetime of the National Development Plan up to 2027. Given the scale of the proposed works set out in all of the 29 Flood Plans, it would not be possible to begin implementing all of the proposed schemes at once, alongside the delivery of the existing programme of flood relief schemes already in-hand.
The OPW will now work closely with the Local Authorities to commence the implementation of a first tranche of new schemes that have been prioritised using a multi criteria analysis approach on a regionalised basis. This first tranche will include 5 major schemes each costing more than €15 million, along with a range of mid-sized and small schemes. The Government is doubling the annual Capital funding allocation to flood relief schemes to €100m by 2021.
What impact will the proposed measures have on the environment?
Strategic Environmental Assessments and, where relevant, Plan-level Appropriate Assessments under the Habitats and Birds Directive have been undertaken on the Flood Plans, which have assessed the potential environmental impacts of the measures on the environment. The outcomes of these assessments are available in the Publications section of this website. More detailed project-level environmental assessments will however typically be required before a flood relief scheme can advance to implementation.
These environmental assessments have been independently reviewed by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It has been concluded that these Plans will not adversely affect the integrity of Natura Sites and are not likely to have significant effects on the environment.
Do the Flood Plans factor in climate change?
The potential impacts of climate change on flood extents and flood risk have been assessed through the National CFRAM Programme, and the potential future levels of risk are set out in the Flood Plans. The assessment of potentially viable measures has therefore taken into account how adaptable a possible measure might be to cope with the potential impacts of climate change, and this has influenced the choice of the measures proposed in the Flood Plans.
As part of detailed design of the proposed flood relief schemes the OPW will take account of the potential impacts of climate change.
How accurate are the Flood Maps and what can they be used for?
The Flood Maps have been prepared based on detailed surveys and models within the 300 communities at potentially significant flood risk, and have been checked against past flood information where this has been available to help ensure that the Flood Maps represent past floods well, and hence areas that may be prone to flooding in the future. The Flood Maps for some areas outside of these communities have been based on less detailed data, and so may not be as reliable.
Modelling and mapping floods always carries a degree of uncertainty, as this involves trying to model very complex natural and variable systems. This uncertainty is greater for more extreme floods, and where less information on past floods is available to check the models and maps.
The Flood Maps indicate areas that may be prone to flooding, which may be of use to planners, emergency response planners, developers, and other sectors and people concerned about flood risk. However, it is important that any user of the Flood Maps makes sure that the Flood Maps are suitable for their own intended use and that these Flood Maps cannot be used for commercial purposes.
How have the floods in 2015/2016 informed the Flood Maps and the Plans?
Draft Flood Maps were prepared and published for consultation before the floods of Winter 2015/16 occurred. Comparisons of the observed flood extents of the Winter 2015/16 against the mapped flood extents have generally shown a good degree of agreement, and that the Flood Maps represent the potentially flood-prone areas well. For a small number of areas some differences were observed, and the Flood Maps have since been amended to reflect more accurately the areas that have been shown to be prone to flooding.
If a Flood Map shows my area at risk from flooding, will I flood?
The Flood Maps are not creating a flood risk, but they are, for the first time, setting out the predictive extent of the exposure to flood risk in each of the 300 communities. The Flood Maps may highlight areas that have no past experience of flooding, but that could flood in the future.
If I live in an area that is at risk from flooding, what should I do?
If you live if an area that is at risk from flooding, there are things you can do to be prepared to take action if and when a flood occurs.
The OPW has a dedicated awareness website www.flooding.ie for homes, businesses and farms. This website provides practical information and guidance on being prepared to take action if and when a flood occurs. The OPW has also prepared a handy booklet called "Plan, prepare, protect" that is available to view online and download.
The national Be Winter Ready campaign also provides practical guidance for dealing with any severe weather event. Further information can be found at www.winterready.ie .
What is the probability of my house or property flooding?
The Flood Maps show the likelihood or probability of flooding for areas within each of the 300 communities that were identified as being at potentially significant risk from flooding.
That likelihood or probability of flooding is called the Annual Exceedance Probability, or ‘AEP’. This is written as the probability of flooding in any given year, so a flood extent with an AEP of 1% means there is a 1%, or 1 in a 100, chance of that flooding event occurring in any year. The 1% AEP flood event is sometimes also called a '100 year' flood. The recent flooding in Winter 2015/2016 is typical of such a flood.
If there is no detailed Flood Map for my area, does this mean my area will not flood?
It means that the OPW has not assessed the risk of flooding for your area as part of the CFRAM Programme, which has focussed on those areas where the flood risk was considered to be significant. However, there may be records of past flood events in your area, indicated on our Flood Maps Viewer, which might indicate flood risk.
If I live in an assessed area but my property is not shown to be at risk from flooding, will I flood?
The Flood Maps have looked at the risk of flooding from rivers and from extreme sea levels, and from pluvial events in Raphoe and Dublin, but not from the other causes of flooding, e.g. groundwater and infrastructure failure. It would not be correct to assume that there is no risk of flooding.
Will the Flood Maps be used by Local Authorities for Planning decisions?
The proper application of the Guidelines on the Planning System and Flood Risk Management (DECLG/OPW, 2009) by the planning authorities is essential to avoid inappropriate development in flood prone areas, and hence avoid unnecessary increases in flood risk into the future. The Flood Maps produced by OPW will provide planning authorities with an even greater evidential basis for their sustainable planning decisions.