Environmental Activities

Environment

Clonmel Flood Relief Scheme
 

The OPW carry out a range of environmental assessments for various flood risk management plans and projects.  The main assessments are: Strategic Environmental Assessments, Environmental Impacts Assessments, Appropriate Assessments and Ecological Assessments.

Strategic Environmental Assessment

A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) has being conducted for Arterial Drainage Maintenance and High Risk Channel Designation.  A SEA Screening was conducted for Maintenance Activities of Coastal Protection Schemes.  SEAs are carried out on all Flood Risk Management Plans.

Environmental Impact Assessment

All individual flood risk management projects that qualify under an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) threshold, produce an Environmental Impact Statement and conduct the associated EIA.  The primary application of EIA is for large Flood Relief Schemes which typically are EIA scale projects.

Appropriate Assessment

All flood risk management activities which potentially impact european Natura Sites i.e. SACs or SPAs, carry out Screening for Appropriate Assessment or Appropriate Assessment (AA) as required.  AAs are carried out on an ongoing basis for Arterial Drainage Maintenance operations with AAs also carried out for all Flood Relief Schemes which potentially impact on a Natura Site.  AAs are being carried out on all Flood Risk Management Plans.

Ecological Assessment

Cases occur where some flood risk management activity is proposed but no other form of environmental assessment was required. In the event that there are some potential environmental sensitivities that need further consideration, an Ecological Assessment (EcA) will be carried out.  The primary applications for EcAs are for small flood alleviation works that do not require an EIA or an AA, and, to consider environmental sensitivities around Arterial Drainage Maintenance or other CFRAM activities which were outside the scope of the SEA or AA processes.

Environmental Research

OPW Arterial Drainage Maintenance service has carried out a significant volume of environmental research to increase knowledge and identify methods of operation that are both environmentally sensitive and effective for drainage and flood relief purposes.  A significant volume of research has been completed in partnership with Inland Fisheries Ireland in addition to other research completed with environmental non-government organisations and environmental consultancies.  There are a number of publications available through the Inland Fisheries Ireland website.   A Series of Ecological Impact Assessments on Arterial Drainage Maintenance was completed with eleven individual reports published under the International Standard Series Number ISSN 1649 – 9840.  This research encapsulated all the key species & habitats designated under the Habitats and Birds directives and are available on this website under Publications.  Other environmental studies are being conducted as part of the EU Floods Directive implementation.

Environmental Management

The Arterial Drainage Maintenance service has developed a suite of Environmental Management Protocols and Standard Operating Procedures which minimise the potential environmental impact of operations.  The OPW has established a national river enhancement programme, called the Environmental River Enhancement Programme, where Inland Fisheries Ireland work with OPW to physically enhance certain drainage waterways and has been shown to significantly improve the fishery quality of the waterway whilst still maintaining the drainage and flood relief capacity.  A copy of the Environmental Management Protocols and Standard Operating Procedures and a leaflet on the Environmental River Enhancement Programme are available on this website under Publications.  As a further support mechanism to these work practices, there are staff training and auditing systems in place.

Biodiversity

The National Biodiversity Plan 2011-2016 entails broad requirements for all Government Departments including the OPW, and specific requirements for flood risk management.  The OPW is represented on both the High Level Steering Group and the Working Group which are two inter-departmental fora for implementation of the national biodiversity plan.  All biodiversity related requirements and activities are coordinated through these two fora.

Waste Management

Waste management within the OPW drainage depots has been reviewed and all depots have measures in place to reduce, re-use or recycle the majority of the waste generated.