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 carried out by the OPW include:

-          Strategic Environmental Assessments

-          Environmental Impact Assessments

-          Appropriate Assessments

-          Ecological Assessments

Strategic Environmental Assessment

A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was conducted for the national Arterial Drainage Maintenance activities for the period 2018-2021. This timeframe aligns with the SEAs which are carried out on all Flood Risk Management Plans (2018-2021). In parallel, SEA Screenings are carried out for the Maintenance Activities of Coastal Protection Schemes and the Flood Risk Management Climate Change Sectoral Adaptation Plan, both of which concluded that an SEA was screened out.

Environmental Impact Assessment

All individual flood risk management projects that qualify under an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) threshold, require anticipated environmental effects to be published in an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR). The primary application of an 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 full Appropriate Assessment (AA) including producing a Natura Impact Statement (NIS) 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(s). 

Ecological Assessment

Cases occur where some flood risk management activity is proposed but no other form of environmental assessment is required. In the event that there are some potential environmental sensitivities that need further consideration, an Ecological Assessment (EcA) will be carried out.  The typical application for EcAs are for small flood alleviation works and drainage maintenance activities that do not require an EIA or an AA.

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 (IFI) Ireland in addition to other research completed with environmental Non-Government Organisations (NGO) and environmental consultancies.  There are a number of publications available through this website.  

-       Series of Ecological Impact Assessments on Arterial Drainage Maintenance published under the International Standard Series Number ISSN 1649 – 9840. 

-       Review of EU Best Practice for Environmental Procedures & Silt Management

-       IFI Annual Reports

-       River Enhancement Publications

Environmental Management

The Arterial Drainage Maintenance service has developed a suite of environmental procedures encapsulated in the Environmental Guidance: Drainage Maintenance and Construction 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 continuously improve best environmental practice for drainage maintenance works  A copy of the Environmental Guidance: Drainage Maintenance and Construction and a leaflet on the Environmental River Enhancement Programme are available on this website under further information.  As a further support mechanism to these work practices, there are staff training and auditing systems in place.

Environmental Policy

The National Biodiversity Plan (2017-2021) 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.

The National Peatlands Strategy 2015 entails broad requirements for all Government Departments including the OPW, and specific requirements for flood risk management.  The OPW is represented on Peatland Strategic Implementation Group which is an inter-departmental fora for implementation of the National Peatlands Strategy 2015.  All Peatland Strategies requirements and activities are coordinated through this fora.

Irish Ramsar Wetlands Committee (IRWC) was set up by the Government in November 2010 to assist Ireland in meeting its requirements as a signatory to the Ramsar Convention are a widely representative group, set up to assist in the protection, appreciation and understanding of wetlands in Ireland and to promote the implementation of the this Convention. OPW are an active committee member of the IRWC.

OPW actively participate in a large range of national forums to assist in the implantation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) such as;

-       Blue Dot Catchments Programme

-       Hydromorphology working group

-       Natural waters retention Measures (NWRM) working group

-       Water Body Characterisation working group

OPW policy on Climate Change is developed and set out in the OPW Climate Change Sectoral Adaptation Plan (2020-2024) which has been prepared under the remit of the National Climate Change Adaptation Framework. It sets out the approach to climate change adaptation for flood risk management in Ireland and the adaptation actions to be implemented for OPW and other responsible Departments.

In terms of broader environmental legislation and policy OPW actively contribute to a diverse range of other forums to assist with, improvement of legislation implementation, development of guidance and evolution policy e.g.

-       SEA Forum in the review of SEA legislation in Ireland

-       EIA guidance to up EIA guidance in Ireland

-       National planning guidance for water