Minister Canney welcomes progress on maintenance activity by the Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group

Monday, 10th April 2017: Seán Canney, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Flood Relief outlined the range of measures being taken to address flood risk on the River Shannon at an event in Athlone Institute of Technology this evening, Monday 10th April.

Speaking at the Environ 2017 Conference, the Minister said: “The Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group met on 21 March, 2017 to agree its 2017 Work Programme which provides a focus and prioritises actions and activities to manage flood risk for the Shannon catchment. Last December, the Group took a major decision to develop a plan for a strategic maintenance programme on the River Shannon to halt the deterioration of the river channel and to complement the specific measures that have been identified for the areas at risk through the Shannon CFRAM Study. The Group has established a sub-committee to address all of the necessary legal, environmental, technical and other considerations that arise in bringing forward both short term and long term proposals.”

The Group is chaired by the OPW and the Minister was pleased to announce that the Group has now agreed to the delivery of targeted maintenance activities in specific locations that are being identified as feasible by the members of the Group. The Minister said: “Staff from the OPW, Waterways Ireland, Inland Fisheries Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) have worked together to identify the scope of potential activities and proposals are now emerging for targeted activities to be carried out in a range of locations this year in accordance with the permitted seasonal windows for such activities. The recent targeted activity around Madden’s Island downstream of Athlone is a successful demonstration of this collaborative approach and both the Group and I would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution of the NPWS to ensure that the clearing of the trees was carried out appropriately to enhance the conveyance capacity of the channel.”

In tandem with this targeted activity, the Group agreed to the commencement of environmental and habitat survey work to inform the development of a long term proposal.

In addition to consideration of maintenance activity, the Group also agreed to the continuation of the pilot lowering of the levels on Lough Allen during the Winter season for another year. The protocols agreed between the ESB, Waterways Ireland and the OPW were successfully implemented resulting in a lowering of the target Winter water level by 0.7 metres. However, the impact of the trial hasn't been fully tested as the rainfall level over the past Winter was below average and thankfully there was no repeat of the exceptional weather events experienced in December 2015 and January 2016.

The Group also endorsed the commencement of a specific project to identify viable flood risk reduction measures in the Shannon Callows. Building on initial assessments undertaken as part of the Shannon CFRAM study, the OPW are leading on the project, in conjunction with Waterways Ireland, Inland Fisheries Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, that will include more detailed assessment of possible removal of identified constrictions or "pinch points" in the channel upstream of Meelick Weir.

Séan Canney, T.D., Minister for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief said: “I am delighted that the Group, which is chaired by the OPW, is progressing the plans for strategic maintenance works on the River Shannon. This will complement the Group’s Work Programme and the specific measures that are identified for the areas at significant risk in the Draft Shannon Flood Risk Management Plan. I welcome the twin-track approach being adopted which will see targeted maintenance activity being carried out while a proposal for a long-term strategic programme is being developed.”

The Minister added "The activities of the Group play a valuable role in supporting the objectives of the Action Plan for Rural Development "Realising our Rural Potential". In particular, the progresion of flood relief actions in the Shannon catchment identified in the Action Plan along with those identified for the country as a whole, will have a positive impact on rural communities who are living with flood risk."

ENDS

For further information:
 Ciaran Conroy
OPW Press Officer
087 947 5552
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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 County and City 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 Móna Environmental 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 Work Programme, Agenda, Minutes and other material relating to meetings of the Group is available on the OPW website - www.opw.ie.