EU Floods Directive
The EU Directive on the assessment and management of flood risks [2007/60/EC], often referred to as the ‘Floods’ Directive, came into force late in 2007. It is a framework directive that requires Member States to follow a certain process, namely:
- Undertake a Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment (PFRA) by 22 December 2011, to identify areas of existing or foreseeable future potentially significant flood risk (referred to as ‘Areas for Further Assessment, or ‘AFA’s)
- Prepare flood hazard and risk maps for the AFAs by 22 December 2013, and,
- Prepare flood risk management plans by 22 December 2015, setting objectives for managing the flood risk within the AFAs and setting out a prioritised set of measures for achieving those objectives
The Directive requires that the PFRA, flood maps and flood risk management plans are prepared in cooperation and coordination with neighbouring states in cross-border river basins, and with the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. The Directive also requires that the PFRA and flood maps are published, and that public and stakeholder consultation and engagement is undertaken in the preparation of the flood risk management plans.
The ‘Floods’ Directive was transposed into Irish law by the EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ASSESSMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF FLOOD RISKS) REGULATIONS 2010. (SI 122/2010) The Regulations set out the responsibilities of the OPW and other public bodies in the implementation of the Directive, on consultation, and details the process for implementation of the measures set out in the flood risk management plans.
Implementation of the Directive is monitored by DG Environment in the European Commission.
The EU ‘Floods’ Directive recognises that there are a number of rivers that cross or form the border in Ireland, and cooperation between responsible authorities on either side of the border is necessary for the effective management of flood risks from these rivers.
To implement the EU ‘Floods’ Directive, rivers and coastlines have been assigned into either Units of Management or International River Basin Districts (IRBDs). There are three IRBDs in Ireland:
- The Shannon IRBD
- The North West IRBD
- The Neagh-Bann IRBD
While the OPW is the national competent authority for the implementation of the Directive in the Republic of Ireland, the Rivers Agency (Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development) is undertaking a similar role in the North.
To ensure that a coordinated approach is adopted for the IRBDs, and building upon a long-standing history of cooperation between the two organisations, working groups on the implementation of the Directive have been established between the OPW and the Rivers Agency. These groups have taken into account the catchment areas, their flood history, typography and the significant flood risk areas within them, in order to assign and plan work between the two jurisdictions.
It has been decided that Rivers Agency and the Office of Public Works will undertake the necessary work separately within their own jurisdictions but will closely coordinate on all technical matters and proposed measures. However, for all three IRBDs, it is intended that the OPW and Rivers Agency will combine their work to produce single, joint flood risk management plans for each IRBD.