The Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Flood Relief, Seán Canney, said 2016 has been a record year for the OPW.

This comes as the full allocation of €52m available for flood relief has been spent in protecting individuals, families, communities and businesses against the most serious risk and impact of flooding, he said.

“The OPW has made significant progress during the year in advancing its flood risk capital programme and, at this time, there are an unprecedented 35 major flood relief schemes at various stages of advancement.

“Seven major schemes have commenced construction this year with a record 12 major schemes now at various stages of construction representing a three-fold increase on the position last year.

“Under the Minor Works Scheme, 400 projects have been completed by local authorities with funding provided by the OPW since 2009.

In 2016 alone, 82 applications have been approved by my Office for funding with a combined value of €4.3m.

Substantial progress has also been made in advancing the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme.

“The CFRAM Programme is the largest flood risk management planning programme ever undertaken by the State.

“Under this Programme 29 draft Flood Risk Management Plans have been published by the OPW for public consultation since July this year with feasible flood relief measures identified to provide protection to at risk properties in 300 at risk assessed areas.

The publication of these draft Plans is another significant milestone in the advancement of the flood risk management agenda by the OPW in 2016.

“The Draft Plans under the Programme will be finalised in Spring next year when the submissions from the statutory public consultation process have been fully considered,” he said.

Minister Canney continued to say that Ireland is now more prepared than ever to tackle floods.

“We have invested some €460m in flood risk management since 1995 and there are now 7,000 properties being protected by the 37 major flood defence schemes that have been completed during this timeframe.

“A further 5,000 properties are being protected through the 400 projects that have been completed under the Minor Works Scheme and some 650,000 acres of agricultural land are being protected through the programmed maintenance of 11,500 km of river channels by the OPW under the Arterial Drainage Acts.

“We have a planned and strategic approach in place in the OPW to tackle flood risk which has been confirmed by external experts to be in line with best international practice.

“This Government has fully embraced this approach and has provided an unprecedented level of investment of €430m for flood risk management in the Capital Investment Plan for 2016 to 2021.

“This is very significant funding by any measure and underscores the priority that the Government attributes to tackling flood risk.

“I am confident that the OPW is well positioned to build on the strong performance that it has achieved in 2016 and that the target set in the Capital Investment Plan to ramp up annual spending from the current level to €100m per annum by 2021 will be attained by the OPW for the benefit of communities and businesses affected by flood risk,” he said.