After attending today’s Government meeting, Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, Mr. Seán Canney T.D., has announced that the Government has agreed the administrative arrangements for a once-off targeted Voluntary Homeowner Relocation Scheme.

The Minister said “This is a humanitarian aid scheme targeted at those homeowners whose main or family home flooded between 4 December 2015 and 13 January 2016 to an extent that left it uninhabitable and whose home is at significant risk of damage from flooding again and cannot be protected through any future planned or possible flood protection or mitigation measures. Homes in turlough areas that flooded after these dates will also be considered under the scheme”.

He advised that identifying homeowners under the scheme involves a two stage process; the OPW firstly working with the Local Authorities using their extensive detailed local knowledge in relation to the homes that flooded, their future risk of flooding and the possible measures to protect those homes.

Those homeowners who are identified at this first stage will be contacted by the OPW, or its representatives, for a meeting to provide the homeowner with further detailed information on the scheme. At or shortly after that meeting they may be invited to apply to be considered under Stage 2, a more detailed assessment of each individual home to assess if an offer to assist with relocation is warranted. Voluntary Relocation will be offered to those homes, that are deemed unsustainable due to their flood risk and for which there are no other known or possible alternative flood protection or mitigation measures.

When the number of homeowners who volunteer for this scheme is known the full budget above the €2m allocated for 2017, for the scheme will form part of the normal budgetary process.

The Minister said that it is planned to start making contact with homeowners in the coming weeks.

Homeowners whose primary home flooded in winter 2015/2016 and would like to register their interest in the Scheme can do so by contacting the OPW before 28th July.

Further information on the scheme and details of how homeowners may register their interest will be published on the OPW website shortly.

The Minister in acknowledging that this initiative is a scheme of last resort for people, stressed “It is critical that the Government investment is targeted at those homeowners at greatest risk of future flooding and would gain greatest benefit from State support to relocate”.

He added “The announcement of this scheme is further evidence of the Government’s commitment to rural communities and progress towards the OPW commitments within the Action Plan for Rural Development”

The Minister said the Government was also aware of the great work and tremendous efforts by homeowners, Local Authorities and other emergency response services that managed to prevent many homes from being flooded and lessened the damage caused. He advised that OPW are to prepare proposals over the coming months as to how the Government can provide assistance through Individual Property Protection measures for those homeowners, whose homes are not being targeted under this scheme.

The Minister also advised that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has indicated that the recommended administrative arrangements for this scheme will help it to fully identify those farmyard buildings to be evaluated to inform any future once-off targeted scheme for Voluntary Farm Building Relocation.

The Minister also stated “Alongside this Voluntary Home Relocation Scheme my Office is also making significant progress in advancing its flood risk capital programme and, at this time, there are an unprecedented 37 major flood relief schemes at various stages of advancement. This Government has fully embraced this approach and has provided substantial investment of €430 million for flood risk management in the Capital Investment Plan to 2021.“