Séan Canney, Minister for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief attends the fifth meeting of the Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group

19 October 16

Séan Canney, T.D., Minister for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief today (18 October, 2016) attended the fifth meeting of the Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group in Government Buildings in Dublin.  An Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny T.D. also addressed the Group which was chaired by the incoming Chairman of the Office of Public Works Mr. Maurice Buckley.

The Minister said “I am pleased to announce that a decision has been taken today by the Group to trial the lowering of the lake levels in Lough Allen to help mitigate potential flood risk for this Winter. From the analysis completed, this may have a small positive impact on the extent of certain flood events that might occur during a Winter. This is to be achieved through protocols to be agreed between the OPW, the ESB and Waterways Ireland with input from the relevant Local Authorities. The modelling and analysis completed shows that this action can only be done in specified conditions to avoid causing or exacerbating flooding downstream and this trial will need to be carefully monitored. The Group has also agreed to evaluate the benefits from any short and medium term programme of localised dredging and any future piloting to remove some pinch points along the Shannon. The Group will discuss both this evaluation and progression with the lake levels trial at its next meeting at the end of November”.

The Minister went on to say “The Co-ordination Working Group was established by the Government earlier this year to bring about the greatest level of co-ordination and co-operation between all of the statutory bodies involved in the management of the River Shannon. The Group is comprised of the Chief Executives of each of the State Agencies concerned with flood risk on the River Shannon. The Working Group has carried out a significant amount of work to date and had published its Shannon Flood Risk Work Programme for 2016 which contains an extensive range of actions and activities to assist in managing flood risk on the Shannon catchment. The Group held three Open Days on its work programme to discuss the role and work of the Group with the public, and met with the Irish Farmers Association to discuss and explore the approach being adopted to address their issues of concern.  The Group is also developing guidance on the rights and responsibilities of non-statutory owners in relation to watercourses”. 

The Minister concluded “The decisions taken today by the Group demonstrate the continued commitment of all of the State agencies to work together in a co-ordinated way to explore all measures that may benefit the communities along the River Shannon.  This Government is also continuing to ensure that measures to deal effectively with flooding through the development of the proactive CFRAM programme and plans, and the continued significant investment in flood defence capital schemes, will receive the highest priority and attention now and into the future”.

-ENDS-

For further information, please contact Ciaran Conroy, OPW Press Officer at 087 947 5552 or ciaran.conroy@opw.ie

Notes to Editors:

The Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group was established by the Government in January 2016 to enhance on-going co-operation across all of the State Agencies involved with the River Shannon. It held its first meeting on 1 February, 2016.  The membership and full terms of reference of the Group are detailed below.

Membership of the Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-Ordination Working Group:

Members of the Group are at CEO level or equivalent with the following State Agencies:

  • Office of Public Works
  • Local Authorities, represented by the City and County Management Association,
  • Waterways Ireland
  • Electricity Supply Board
  • Inland Fisheries Ireland
  • Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
  • Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs
  • Bord na Mona
  • Environment Protection Agency
  • Irish Water

The Attorney General’s Office and other Government Departments may also participate, as requested by the Chairman.

Terms of Reference of the Group:

Informed by the National Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Programme and in order to further effectively manage and mitigate the flood risk on the Shannon catchment, the Group will:

  • Develop and agree a Shannon Flood Risk Work Programme (with identified output KPI’s) to focus and prioritise actions and activities to manage flood risk for the Shannon catchment.
  • Provide coordinated direction and guidance to ensure delivery by State agencies, to meet their statutory role, of their constituent work programme in relation to flood risk management.
  • Adopt and/or develop guidelines and protocols to inform and/or assist better co-ordination and co-operation by and between State Agencies.
  • Informed by an audit of roles and responsibilities in relation to flood risk management on the Shannon catchment, seek clarity on any legal and policy issues to inform its work.
  • Consult with other bodies, including voluntary bodies and communities.
  • Provide guidance in relation to roles and responsibilities for non-statutory bodies involved in managing flood risk on the Shannon catchment.
  • When agreed, monitor and report quarterly on the implementation of the Shannon Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Plan.
  • Develop other structures as an efficient approach to progressing and informing its work.

Papers from Working Group Meetings.

Documentation, including the Agenda, Minutes and other material relating to meetings of the Group is available on the OPW website - www.opw.ie