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Minister Eoghan Murphy “Contingency Fund needed for Severe Weather Events”

Published on Tuesday, 02 Jan 2018
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Contingency Fund for Severe Weather Payments to Local Authorities seen as critical for ensuring an effective response to severe weather emergencies

Minister Murphy to engage with Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform following publication of Ophelia Review Report

The recoupment of unbudgeted expenditure by local authorities related to response and clean-up activities associated with severe weather and flooding has been established practice since the severe flooding that affected the country in 2009 and is seen as an important enabler of an effective and prompt local authority response.

Among the other major emergencies that have been responded to by local authorities and that have been supported in this way are the storms of winter 2013/2014 and the severe flooding of winter 2015/2016.

 Event

 Response and Clean-up Costs      

 Winter 2013/14     

 €9.243m

 Winter 2015/16

 €17.721m

“Time and time again we have seen local authorities, our emergency services and volunteer groups stepping in to the front-line to protect our families and our homes from severe weather events. Whatever money that local authorities have needed to do this, including the costs involved in repair and clean-up operations, has been provided. Due to the nature of these events, costs could generally be met on an ad-hoc basis. But these severe events are becoming less exceptional, and a standing fund is now needed to guarantee to local authorities that expenses incurred in protecting homes, businesses and infrastructure will be covered – so that they can provide the most effective response, both before and after such an event,” said Eoghan Murphy. 

To date, funding provided for these purposes has been sourced through savings identified in other expenditure areas. Given the increased number of incidences of high profile severe weather, the necessity of supporting the local authorities in responding to these events when they do occur from political, economic and social perspectives and that relying on savings occurring in other expenditure areas is an unreliable means of providing this support, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government will engage with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to the creation of a designated contingency fund to place this support on a secure footing for the future.

Since 2009, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has made financial support available to assist local authorities in meeting the costs of clean-up and necessary immediate works associated with significant severe weather emergency events, including flooding, on ad-hoc basis. This is in recognition of the exceptional nature of activities carried out by local authorities in responding to these types of emergencies and the fact that the costs of these un-programmed activities cannot be met from within existing resources.

Funding of repair of public infrastructure is undertaken by the relevant Department(s) in line with its sectoral responsibility. Capital costs associated with infrastructural damage, for example damage to the roads network and coastal protection infrastructure (where relevant), are not included therefore under the above arrangements.

Cost of three recent severe weather events

The total cost of recoupment claims arising from the three severe weather events in 2017 is summarised below:

 Event

 Response and Clean-up Costs      

 Ex-Hurricane Ophelia

 €7,027,506.48

 Inishowen Flooding

 €1,729,122.41

 Mountmellick Flooding     

 €208,727.00

 Total

 €8,965,355.89