Ireland is to receive €200m from Europe to build flood defences across the country.
The European Investment Bank has agreed to provide funding to build flood barriers and other defences in around 30 at-risk areas. This is the first time Ireland has been provided with money from the bank to tackle flooding.
It comes as Environment Minister Alan Kelly is due to meet EU Environment Commission to discuss the response to flooding and flood defences.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny also met members of the insurance industry this week to discuss homes and businesses which are unable to get cover and has asked for a response from them by next Thursday.
At the meeting it was pointed out that many homes are still unable to get insurance despite having demountable defences, which can be erected when there is a risk of flooding.
The Government has already committed to spending €420m on flood defences in the next five years and the EU funding, which will be channelled through the Office of Public Works, will form part of this.
Welcoming the €200m loan, which will run over a 25-year period, Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW Simon Harris said: “This is something that we have been working on for a while, and obviously it is very welcome.
“We are very eager as a government to invest in flood defences and that’s why we are going to be spending more in the next five years than has been spent in the last 20.”
Bank vice president Jonathan Taylor said: “We have done lending for flood prevention and flood protection in other European countries, but this is the first time we will invest in flood-related infrastructure projects. For both the European Investment Bank and the Irish government, addressing flood risk is a clear priority.”
The Government must provide 55% of the cost of flood-relief projects in order to draw down the loan and all defence measures must meet EU legislation, including the Habitats and Water Framework Directives.
The bank would not disclose the interest rate but said it is competitive. Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly wrote to EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella this week requesting a meeting to discuss the flooding crisis.
In a letter ahead of the meeting Mr Kelly told the commissioner that the Government is “conscious of both the likelihood of an increased frequency of extreme weather events due to climate change, and the importance of compliance with the spirit and provisions of EU law, particularly the directives on flooding, strategic environmental assessment, birds and habitats”.
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