Chapter 14 - Climate Change and Flood Management

Closeddate_range10 Oct, 2020, 8:00am - 23 Nov, 2020, 5:00pm

14 Climate Change and Flood Management 

Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing Ireland today. Flooding is a natural process that can happen at any time in a wide variety of locations and the severity of which is set to increase due to the effects of climate change.


Flooding from rivers and prolonged, intense and localised rainfall can also cause sewer flooding, overland flow and groundwater flooding. Flooding has significant impacts on human activities as it can threaten lives, livelihoods, housing, transport, and public service infrastructure and commercial/ industrial enterprises.

The impacts of both flooding and climate change can be significant and wide reaching and include health, social, economic and environmental effects. Developments in inappropriate locations can exacerbate the problems of flooding by accelerating and increasing surface water run-off, altering watercourses and removing floodplain storage.

Part A: Climate Change 

14.1 Context 

The challenges arising from climate change are wide ranging and varied including longer and hotter summers, increased rainfall, flooding, rising sea levels and intensified storms in winter. The effects of such changes have been experienced more frequently in Limerick in recent years. The changes to the climate have been attributed largely to an increase in the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere which have created climatic shifts and global impacts.

A proactive approach to preparing a resilient economy, environment and community for climate change is required. Therefore, in implementing this Plan, the Council will support relevant provisions contained in the National Climate Change Adaptation Framework (2018), the National Mitigation Plan (2017), the National Energy and Climate Plan, the Limerick City & County Council Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2019 - 2024 and commitments included in the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the Southern Region.

Implementation of the LAP will take into account relevant targets and actions arising from sectoral adaptation plans that will be prepared to comply with the requirements of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015. These requirements include those seeking to contribute towards the National Transition Objective, to pursue, and achieve, the transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by the year 2050.

14.2 Climate Action and Planning 

The Limerick City & County Council Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2019 - 2024 outlines that Climate Action comprises two elements – (1) Adaptation and; (2) Mitigation. Adaptation is the efforts to manage the risks and impacts associated with existing or anticipated impacts of climate change, while mitigation is the efforts to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, and reduces the severity of future climate change impacts.

Through the policies and objectives set out in the NPF and RSES, Climate Adaptation and Mitigation measures are embedded in the plan making process. The Local Area Plan has been prepared with the purpose of integrating and implementing these policies and provisions where relevant. The approach to density, land use, design and movement is consistent with broader measures to address climate change in the areas of sustainable travel, green infrastructure, flood risk adaption and renewable energy sources, amongst others.

The development of urban areas, in the absence of mitigation measures against climate change has contributed to the heat island affect (the warming of the urban environment) as well as increasing the volume of pollutants in the air and increased flooding potential. The impacts of climate change are expensive and complicated to manage and will become even more so in the future.

Green infrastructure can be used as a tool to alleviate some of the negative impacts of climate change and in some ways contribute to the prevention or slowing down of this change. Mitigation measures include planting of trees, hedgerows and woodlands to clean air and assist with carbon sequestration, and the construction of surface water retention features such as ponds, lakes, or swales. The LAP can help mitigate further impact on the environment through ensuring that future development takes cognisance of the natural elements of sites and incorporates them within the design of buildings and neighbourhoods, connecting them into the wider green infrastructure network. Where there are no natural site features present, the potential for a landscaping plan to re-establish green features and infrastructure should be examined.

Figure 20: Soft Landscaping

Achieving a low carbon producing economy and society requires, where practicable, everybody seeking to meet resource requirements from indigenous sources. Those indigenous resources should be harnessed, to optimum potential in order to meet or exceed local needs, having due regard for national targets and the local planning guidelines. This involves not just the use of local resources, where applicable, but the adoption of new building techniques and designs which will minimise energy intensive inputs.

The design, construction and operation of new buildings has a significant role to play in reducing energy demand and increasing energy efficiency into the future. The integration of energy efficiencies into the life cycle of all new residential and non-residential buildings, from the neighbourhood, street and individual building scale, can result in significant savings at the local level.

With regard to residential dwellings, all new homes constructed must reach an energy performance rating in accordance with Part L – Conservation of Fuel and Energy 2019, which gives effect to Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) Regulations.  An NZEB building is defined as one that has a high-energy performance. The nearly zero or low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent by energy from renewable sources, including energy from renewable sources produced on-site or nearby. NZEB requires a suite of energy efficiencies including for example a 70% reduction in primary energy use and CO2 emissions compared to 2005 standards. 


Climate Change: Strategic Policy:

To protect and enhance environmental quality and implement the climate action measures through the planning process to help tackle climate change.

Objectives: It is the Objective of the Council to:


CC O1:     Support the National Adaptation Framework 2018 and the National Climate Change Strategy,  including the transition to a low carbon future, taking account of flood risk, the promotion of sustainable transport, soil conservation, the importance of green infrastructure, improved air quality, the use of renewable resources and the re-use of existing resources. Cognisance shall be had to the Limerick Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (2019), any revised or forthcoming  adaptation, mitigation or climate action strategies in the formulation of any plans or policies.

CC O2:      Support sustainable travel, energy efficient projects, green infrastructure and sustainable residential development projects.

CC O3:      Ensure climate proofing measures are incorporated into the design, planning and construction  of all developments, including the use of green infrastructure as a mechanism for carbon offsetting and surface water management.

CC O4:     Ensure that medium to large scale residential and commercial developments are designed to take account of the impacts of climate change, including the installation of rainwater harvesting  systems, and that energy efficiency and renewable energy measures are incorporated. In the cases of large industrial, commercial or newly constructed public buildings, the incorporation of  renewable technologies such as solar energy in the design will be encouraged, subject to compliance with all relevant planning criteria.

CC O5:     Support and promote climate smart and the NZEB standard of building or equivalent for all new  developments.

CC O6:     Promote and support development of renewable energy sources, which will achieve low carbon outputs including on-land and off-shore renewable energy production.

CC O7:     Encourage co-operation between utility and service providers to ensure that their networks are resilient to the impacts of climate change and ensure that any infrastructure is designed to function in a climate altered future.

CC O8:     Promote the Southern Environs as a low carbon area and support the development of low carbon and green technological businesses and industries.

CC O9:     Promote integration and delivery of green infrastructure in new developments, public realm and community projects as a means of managing flood risk and enhancing the natural environment.

Part B: Flood Management 

14.3 - Context 

Climate change is expected to increase flood risk, leading to more frequent flooding and an increase in the depth and extent of flooding.

Under Project Ireland 2040’s National Development Plan, the Limerick City Flood Relief Scheme was announced in 2018, which is being advanced by the OPW and Limerick City and County Council. This Flood Scheme follows the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) programme, which is a medium to long-term strategy for the reduction and management of flood risk in Ireland covering a single National River Basin District.


14.4 Flood Risk and Planning 

In accordance with the provisions of the National Planning Framework, the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the Southern Region and the Planning System and Flood Risk Management Guidelines for Planning Authorities (2009), a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) has informed the preparation of the Draft LAP. 

Past flood events have included elements of fluvial, pluvial, coastal and groundwater flooding in the Southern Environs, including at Dock Road, Mungret, Loughmore Common, Dooradoyle, Rosbrien and Raheen. The areas at greatest risk of fluvial flooding are closest to the River Shannon. The Council will strive to ensure that proper flood risk identification, assessment and avoidance are integrated with the planning system to safeguard the future sustainable development of the Environs.

To comply with the EU Floods Directive and in line with the guidelines for Planning Authorities, an assessment of flood risk has been formally taken into account in the preparation of this plan. The objective of “The Planning System and Flood Risk Management Guidelines” is to integrate flood risk management into the planning process, thereby assisting in the delivery of sustainable development. For this to be achieved, flood risk must be assessed as early as possible in the planning process.

The guidelines states that the core objectives are to:

  • Avoid inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding;
  • Avoid new developments increasing flood risk elsewhere, including that which may arise from surface run-off;
  • Ensure effective management of residual risks for development permitted in floodplains;
  • Avoid unnecessary restriction of national, regional or local economic and social growth;
  • Improve the understanding of flood risk among relevant stakeholders; and
  • Ensure that the requirements of EU and national law in relation to the natural environment and nature conservation are complied with at all stages of flood risk management.

This draft LAP has been drafted to ensure that: (a) flood risk is avoided where possible; (b) where avoidance is not possible, less vulnerable uses have been substituted for more vulnerable ones, and; (c) risk is mitigated and managed where avoidance and substitution are not possible.

The Draft LAP avoids development in areas at risk of flooding and has substituted vulnerable land uses with less vulnerable uses where this is not possible. Where neither is possible, mitigation and management of risks must be proposed. A Stage 1 SFRA report accompanies this Plan. The SFRA has recommended that development proposals for a number of areas within the plan boundary should be subject to site specific flood risk assessment, appropriate to the nature and scale of the development being proposed.


Flood Management: Strategic Policy:

To manage flood risk in the Southern Environs.

Objectives: It is an Objective of the Council to:


FM O1:    Manage flood risk in accordance with the requirements of “The Planning System and Flood Risk  Management Guidelines for Planning Authorities”, DECLG and OPW (2009) and any revisions thereof.

FM O2:    Support and co-operate with the OPW in delivering the Limerick City Flood Relief Scheme.

FM O3:    Support delivery of projects to reduce surface water and groundwater flood risk.

FM O4:    Ensure development proposals within the areas outlined on the Flood Risk Map are subject to Site Specific Flood Risk Assessment as outlined in “The Planning System and Flood Risk Management Guidelines”, DECLG and OPW (2009).

FM O5:    Incorporate the recommendations of the River Shannon CFRAM into any site specific flood risk assessment undertaken for individual sites/ areas.

FM O6:    Ensure the integration of urban storm water drainage systems including Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) for new developments.

FM O7:    Provide an appropriate set back from the edge of watercourses to proposed developments to ensure access infinity for channel clearing, and/or maintenance.