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Funding to defend at-risk areas is drying up

MORE than 250 areas prone to flooding remain at risk as the Government admitted it may not have enough money to complete defence works.

Junior minister Brian Hayes told the Irish Independent last night that funding might not be available to carry out the works because of massive cuts in the capital expenditure programme to be announced next month.

And it has also emerged that work has not yet started on studies to identify towns and cities most at risk of flooding.

Experts needed to map river catchment areas have still not been appointed by the Office of Public Works (OPW).

This is despite promises last year that work on all of the so-called CFRAM (Catchment Flood Risk Assessment & Management) studies would begin by the summer.

The revelation comes after the devastating flooding in Dublin and Wicklow.

But Mr Hayes, junior minister with responsibility for the OPW, last night admitted that funding any new projects would be difficult in the wake of swingeing cutbacks.

"I've been told there's at least 250 hot-spots," he said. "The comprehensive spending review effects this department. We will do everything in our power to keep funding ringfenced for flood defences for 2012.

"We have a clear picture of the priority areas that need to be tackled. The dilemma here is these (flooding events) are becoming more frequent."

There are six CFRAM studies to be carried out. Under the EU floods directive, member states must carry out the risk assessments and complete management strategies of areas likely to be flooded by 2015.

The studies will identify the works needed, how long it will take to complete and the cost. The directive came into force in 2007, and since then flooding in November 2009 cost €250m in insurance claims.

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