02 Paul Cobbing National Flood Forum UK,

Helping Communities respond to flood events.

“It’s  about people not stuff” was the main message from Paul Cobbing , CEO of the UK charity National Flood Forum dedicated to supporting and representing communities and individuals at risk of flooding by:

  • Helping people to prepare for flooding in order to prevent it or mitigate its impacts
  • Helping people to recover their lives once they have been flooded
  • Campaigning on behalf of flood risk communities and working with government and agencies to ensure that they develop a community perspective.

He described the main worries that people have including;-  repeat events, impacts on their health, devaluation of their home or even inability to sell and move on, costs of insurance (if they can get it), general disruption to their lives.

He also described the structure of the NFF, that it supported well in excess of 200 affiliated groups across England and Wales and had been instrumental in setting up the independent SFF (Scottish FF). It had delivered a number of specific projects funded by Environment Agency, Regional Flood and Coastal Committees and local authorities.

The Forum structure is characterised by its  independence; its attitude;  the ability to help people and communities take control of their flood risk; supporting communities to engage positively with stakeholders (agencies, central and local government) to find solutions; to operate in the spaces that others can’t fill.

The NFF has identified that the there are many issues caused by flooding which are as much societal (health, wellbeing, community isolation) as technical and has developed a  unique long term approach to their resolution.


03 Conor Warner

Ballinasloe Flood Relief Study A Community Response

Mr. Conor Warner, Senior Hydrologist, Ryan Hanley Ltd., described in terms readily understood by the audience the worst flooding in living memory to hit Ballinasloe in November 2009. The flooding occurred when catchments were saturated, ground water and river levels were high and the flood plains full.  The River Suck which flows through Ballinasloe and drains to the River Shannon flooded 140 properties and threatened 40 more and also impacted the water supply and closed the N6.

A number of Ballinasloe residents established FAB, the Flood Alleviation Ballinasloe Community Project  in January 2010 to get a flood study in place to identify and understand the causes of the flooding; determine a plan of action for constructively engaging with Galway County Council and the OPW with proposals which would form the basis of a flood relief scheme for Ballinasloe. They organised funding raising and approached a number of specialists (including Professor Cunnane from the UCG hydrology department) to help with a flood study and the advancement of a detailed Ballinasloe Flood Relief Study preliminary report.

This collaborative approach has resulted in the completion of a number of emergency works todate  thanks to fast tracking of the design and construction and the dedication free of charge by all  land owners of the wayleaves, easements etc  necessary for construction.

Further studies have followed including the OPW national CFRAMS programme which has identified the Ballinasloe Flood Relief Scheme. This will be funded by the OPW at a date yet to be determined.

The Community Response initiative while recognising that much has been achieved  continues to  highlight that a lot more works are required. FAB has met with a number of government ministers since November 2009 including the previous Minister of State for the OPW and Flood Relief to ensure that the continuing vulnerability of Ballinasloe is recognised.


04 Monica Lee

Turlogh flooding Investigation

Turloughs are depressions in karst limestone areas, which are intermittently flooded on an annual cycle via groundwater sources and are a feature almost unique to Ireland.   The flooding is less predicable  than other surface water types due to the complexity of the  underground channel systems  which are still being mapped. The presentation by Monica Lee ( co-authors Ted McCormack and  Owen Naughton)  of the  Geological Survey, Ireland,  outlined the ongoing work which is promoting a better understanding of the flooding mechanisms and providing data for better decisions.


The  presentation stressed the importance of stakeholder engagement and the importance of working with stakeholder groups from the beginning. These  have included umbrella groups such as  the Irish National Flood Forum and South Galway Flood Relief Committee as well as the state agencies. They have found local knowledge from landowners and homeowners essential and they aim to provide  modelling and other relevant information as it comes available so that better decisions may be reached by planning authorities.



05 Mark Adamson, OPW

Flood Risk Management In Ireland & The National ‘CFRAM’ Programme

Mark Adamson, described the historical context of the OPW as lead government agency for Ireland’s national flood  and its role as the “Competent Authority” under the EU Floods Directive,2007, which is currently reaching completion of  its first 6-year review cycle.

The FD has 3 key requirements: identifying communities most at risk under the Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment  (PFRA), development of Flood Maps and Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMPs)and a number of other provisions: coordination with the Water Framework Directive (WFD), trans-boundary dissemination and public engagement.

The Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment identified 300 areas of  potential significant risk (AFA) based on historic and predictive hazard assessment and stakeholder consultation.

The CFRAM programme was developed in six contract areas corresponding to national/international river basin districts (Shannon/ Eastern/ South-Eastern / South-Western / Western / North-Western & Neagh Bann) and included survey and data collection over 10,000km2 of flood plains and 6,500km of river channel.  The outcomes included flood maps and FRMPs which identified preferred measures for sustainable flood risk management.

He also described measures which have been introduced to further flood

  • Prevention – Planning guidelines; property relocation and climate change adaptation planning
  • Preparedness & Resilience – Flood Warning and flood event emergency response; community and individual resilience and individual property protection.
  • Protection – Major flood relief schemes and minor works programmes


and further steps to come including

  • Draft FRMPs which are being completed in the autumn to enable,
  • Final FRMPs for prioritisation and Ministerial approval.

The OPW is mindful of the major differences in the urban and rural communities’  risk profiles and described the special measures for rural areas to ensure that they are not left behind (Minor Works schemes; options for individual property protection and voluntary home relocation).


06 Paul Kavanagh,  McCarthy Insurance Brokers

The truth about Flood Insurance

Speaking from professional  (35 yrs an insurance broker, former president of the Irish Brokers Association, Past President the Insurance Institute of Cork) , and personal ( home and business floodings) experiences Paul Kavanagh gave an incisive review of the insurance situation in Munster.

Given that the whole definition of Insurance is that the Premiums of Many will Pay the Claims of Few he questioned why it is now proving impossible to obtain proper insurance  cover for home and office.  Through his work a broker he insures a lot of homes and businesses, where there are defences and where there are no defences but he is increasingly met with the same blanket refusal from  Insurance Ireland members.

He outlined some of the issues that can arise even after an OPW  capital scheme is commissioned if there is no SLA (service level agreement) is in place for its subsequent  operation and maintenance; this, he indicated, renders the current Memorandum of Understanding between the OPW and Insurance Ireland Members useless. He went on to express his deep dismay that Insurance Ireland wrote to Enda Kenny, after their famous meeting, earlier this year and said that their members would not recognise Demountable Barriers for a number of reasons which were listed in his full presentation.  Mr Kavanagh pointed out that these schemes performed 100% to expectation during the worst floods since 1955.

It had been confirmed in a January Dail question that  €1.5Billion had been collected in insurance levies between 2001 and 2015 yet none of this had been used to assist flood victims. Rather than  another levy to help flood victims Mr Kavanagh said this should be used instead. He had two concluding recommendations:

  • All the Homes and Businesses that are protected a new OPW Flood Defence scheme should be offered flood cover immediately when it is completed and this should not lead to an increase in premiums. The exposure is minimal and the risk can be assessed easily, once proper Service Level Agreements are in place.

For the other properties affected by flooding, the Government could  easily put  together a compensation scheme/relocation scheme, by ring-fencing  the 3% Government Levy on every general insurance policy. The €100+ million per year generated should be used for a Flood Fund and Policyholders Protection Fund rather than going directly into Government coffers).





07 Jeremy Buckley, PRO, INFF

Flood Insurance legislation needed

Mr Jeremy Buckley is PRO for the INFF which is a voluntary national organisation founded in Skibbereen in September 2011; it has since grown with members across Ireland in Skibbereen, Bandon, Blackpool, Cork City,Glounthaune, Carrigaline, Castlemartyr, Limerick,  Laois, Kilkenny, Clonmel, Ballinasloe, Leixlip, Bray,  Sligo. The INFF networks nationally with C.B.A, ICCA, Muintir na Tíre, Macra na Feirme, IFA, ICMSA and has commenced in recent times to network with European organisations notably the (UK) NFF and the Dutch Rijkswaterstaat both of which were represented at the Ballinasloe AGM. The  Irish National Flood Forum has aims similar to the  other European organisations which are to advocate on behalf of flooded communities, to engage with all stakeholders in a positive and respectful way, to alleviate the problems associated with flooding, to help build community resilience and to share learning and co-operate with similar international organisations.

This approach has resulted in several completed schemes several of which he described: Clonmel Flood Scheme; completed in 2010 at a cost of €35m; Fermoy Flood Scheme; completed in 2014 at a cost of €38m and Mallow Flood Scheme; completed in 2014 at a cost of €35m. The Government has committed to further capital spending of €342m to 2021 and maintenance of €15m per annum.

Mr Buckley went on to note that the Joint Houses of The Oireachtas Report on Floodingand Property Insurance, December 2015 found that  ‘If after examining various models, no adequate solution can be reached, the State could consider the merits of introducing legislation that would compel insurance providers to provide flood insurance to everyone’. Echoing these findings the INFF has concluded that  ‘It is no longer acceptable that property owners, businesses and farmers continue to be left financially vulnerable because they have no access to flood insurance despite many schemes being delivered’ and noting several high level findings (e.g. Michael Noonan 18th May) has proposed its own wording for a draft  Flood Insurance Bill and canvassed support among TDs.

Mr Buckley finished his presentation with an appeal to flood and at risk communities to:

  • Canvas support for the Insurance Bill
  • Form their own community flood resilience group.
  • Affiliate their group with the INFF for mutual benefit
  • Survey their own area and determine how many properties don’t have flood cover).










08 Liesbeth van Riet Paap, The Netherlands, Rijkswaterstaat,  Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, The Netherlands.

The Room for the River Programme.

The INFF was pleased to welcome Liesbeth van Riet Paap, Senior  European Programme , Rijkswaterstaat, The Netherlands’ Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment to share her experiences about the Dutch approach known as Room for the River. This was a seminal project  arising from changing circumstances in the Netherlands and the requirement for an approach which provided  for multi level safety and spatial quality and at the same time meeting  multi level governance needs.

The seven circumstances or “Facts” which drove this world renowned project  included:

  1. The Dutch created the Netherlands mostly from land reclaimed from the sea.
  2. Drainage because of a combination of ground subsidence and silting up much of the land is below sea level
  3. Because of the large catchment area (and resulting high river flows) the navigation channel had been heavily eroded
  4. The programme area  which is protected by dykes accounts for 2/3 of the economic activity of the Netherlands
  5. Serious flood risk, damage and mass evacuations (up to 250,000) occurred in the floods of 1993 & 1995.
  6. A number of major transportation programmes went seriously  off budget and schedule and pointed the need for a new  approach to stakeholder engagement
  7. Rijkswaterstaat was developing a new approach to river flood risk management:
    • multifunctional use of floodplains
    • the river is your friend not your enemy
    • impossible to make dikes higher and higher
    • high economic costs when a dike breaks

The Room for the River(RfR)  programme comprised 34 linked schemes; had a €2.2 billion budget; affected a total area of 24,000 hectares; moved 20million m3 of earth and relocated 150 houses and 40 farms.

It used a toolkit of 9 new measures:

  • strengthening of dikes,
  • relocating dikes,
  • depoldering, [1]
  • lowering of flood plains,
  • lowering river groynes,
  • deepening normal river channels,
  • developing high-water channels,
  • removing obstacles to river flow,
  • introducing water storage.

The end result achieved multi level safety by

Level  1. Prevention of floods,

Level 2. Excellent spatial planning and

Level 3. Improved calamity management in an event.


In addition to technical innovation,  the RfR marked a  shift in stakeholder management from a Distributive to an Integrative approach.

Fact 6 in particular showed that the Distributive approach which focused on knowledge-is-power, organisational priority, for-or-against mentality created “winners” and “losers” and was time consuming, complicated and expensive.

On the other hand,  the Integrative or Multi governance approach  encourages early engagement between all stakeholders who are then prepared to exchange knowledge, respect  the other party’s role and adopt a sincere interest in each other’s needs and interests. It builds up relationships and creates “winners” and  “winners”.  Overall this was found to be less time consuming and less expensive.

This innovative “toolkit” for stakeholder management comprised 8 components:

  1. Integrate design in strong collaboration with local demands.
  2. Find strong leaders at both national and local level.
  3. Involve stakeholders and have many meetings.
  4. Show your trust and use each other’s strength.
  5. Be prepared to see things through the eyes of your other stakeholders.
  6. Be transparent with all information.
  7. Train stakeholders on Multi level governance approach.
  8. Know your stakeholders’ interests, needs and roles.

The outcome was an attitude shift  in attitude from stakeholders to shareholders.

Mrs van Riet Paap described how this approach had been used when dealing with the 5 “Arenas”:

  1. The Elected (politicians),
  2. The Appointed (civil servants),
  3. The Contractors,
  4. The Media, and
  5. The Public.

She also demonstrated  a practical Stakeholders analysis tool for managing multi level governance and offered that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” which for the Room for the River means that the outcomes have been:

  • Safety: there is no significant fear of floods for the forthcoming years
  • Spatial quality: shareholders are satisfied with the outcome and have rediscovered the river as a friend rather than a feared threat!









09 David Murray, South Galway Flood Relief Committee.

State bodies and why flooded communities need more engagement.

David Murray started his presentation with a practical description of the different geological and topographic conditions which influence the South Galway perspective. South Galway is an area bounded by the Slieve Aughty mountains to the north, western slopes draining to the sea at Kinvara, eastern slopes draining to the Shannon and a karst region to the south.

There are a number of state bodies which must be engaged in an area which contains 9 Special Areas of Conservation, 3 Scientifically Protected Areas  and 1 Nature Reserve as well as 100’s of Swallow holes. This creates a very complex problem which has solutions which crosses many State bodies. It is ambiguous and lacks a clear lead authority.

Mr Murray contended that a number of changes are needed including

  1. Collaboration with community, so as to benefit from local knowledge, improve resources and communicate resulting cost-benefit communication
  2. Inter-departmental collaboration so that there is more clarity and responsibility and more focus on solutions rather than process
  3. International collaboration to learn how the Habitat’s Directive is applied in Europe
  4. A holistic Mountain-to-Sea approach.

He gave a number of examples of the benefits of Community Engagement  for example the Labane-Galway road  which had been  closed for 11 weeks  until local knowledge  identified an immediately adjacent swallow hole which provided drainage and speeded up the reopening by  4 to 6 weeks.

He described  the current interdepartmental dynamics (process inefficiencies/red-tape/blame-game) as being a factor in failed / delayed projects  and noted the proliferation of stakeholders having roles :

  • Irish Forestry Service,
  • Coillte,
  • Agriculture,
  • OPW,
  • NPWS,
  • TII,
  • County Council,
  • Community Liaison,
  • Elected Representatives.

He  proposed that  the South Galway Flood Relieve Committee could drive the rapid delivery  of solutions to alleviate flood risk  in South Galway from Slieve Aughty to the Sea. The SGFRC is professional, progressive, representative, well informed, assertive with a wealth of local knowledge and the ability to highlight local issues through information sheets and the use of local media.

In order to deliver the best solution in the fastest time state agencies need deeper and collaborative involvement with local communities AS WELL as a stronger focus on inter-departmental col

[1] A polder  is a low-lying tract of land enclosed by dikes that forms an artificial hydrological entity, meaning it has no connection with outside water other than through manually operated devices.

This entry was posted in Flood, FLOOD INSURANCE, Flooding, Forum, National Flood Forum, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.