Chapter 8: Climate Action, Flood Risk and Transition to Low Carbon Economy
Chapter 8: Climate Action, Flood Risk and Transition to Low Carbon Economy
Our climate is changing rapidly and the effects on the country and on our lives is becoming more evident. The response to the effects are wide ranging and have economic, environmental and social costs associated with them. The business as usual model, cannot continue and there is a need to reconsider the approach to the way we live our daily lives, in terms of reducing environmental impacts and our carbon footprint. Human activities are increasingly influencing climate change, spurred on by both the need for climate action and energy security. In addition, the question of renewable energy production has assumed greater importance over the last decade.
This chapter will set out the Draft Plan’s position in relation to these key issues, in terms of a policy approach to the transition to a low carbon economy and to Limerick becoming climate resilient, with a strong emphasis on reduction in energy demand and emissions, through a combination of effective mitigation and adaptation responses to climate change. The Draft Plan sets out the future growth for Limerick in the core strategy, which will be concentrated in the built up footprint of Limerick’s City, towns and villages, in order to achieve compact growth. Developing the 10 minute city/town concept is a key focus for development within Limerick, with reduced travel distances between home, work, education and services and enhanced active modal share, with an overall reduction in emissions. The integration of land use and transport planning and aligning policies are a key element of the Draft Plan.
There has been much commentary on climate change in Ireland over the last twenty years or so and in the last few years the effects have become clearer. One of the most obvious is increased temperature, with reductions in cold days and longer growing seasons. Temperatures have risen by 0.7oC between 1890 and 2008 and most significantly by 0.4oC between 1980 and 2008. There has been an increase in the intensity of rainfall and storm events and this has resulted in increased flooding in some areas. Coastal defences have also come under increased pressure during these events and ongoing sea level rise will contribute to this problem.
Continued production of greenhouses gases has contributed to these issues and Ireland needs to commence the transition to a low carbon economy, with a reduction on reliance on fossil fuels and unsustainable use of resources. Limerick City and County Council recognises the need for a shift away from the traditional methods and play its role as a key stakeholder in making the transition to a low carbon economy. In July 2019, the Council adopted the Limerick City and County Council Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2019 – 2024. The Climate Adaptation Strategy concentrates on dealing with the effects of climate change, such as flooding, storms or increased temperatures. Climate mitigation on the other hand, refers to efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases. Mitigation can mean using new technologies and renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient, or changing practices and behaviours.
Limerick is one of two EU ‘lighthouse’ cities that have been selected for a major climate-change pilot programme, which will give a lead to the rest of Europe on how to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of urban areas. The EU +CityxChange Programme (Positive City Exchange) has selected Limerick, along with Trondheim in Norway, to roll out a project that has the potential to revolutionise how we produce and use energy in cities and towns. The programme is funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme in the call for ‘Smart Cities and Communities’ and is led by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), together with the Lighthouse Cities Trondheim and Limerick.
Limerick’s selection for the project will see the Georgian Neighbourhood in the heart of the City Centre, become a testbed for data collection and a range of new technologies, that will transform it into a positive energy City Centre where it creates more electricity than it uses.
Limerick is committed to becoming a more climate resilient place and it is at the core of the Draft Plan. While this particular chapter deals with the issue, the theme permeates the entire Draft Plan with a selection of policies and objectives throughout, which will contribute to the transition to a climate resilient and low carbon society.
8.1.1 Integrating Climate Action into the Draft Plan
The Draft Plan has been prepared with climate action and transition to a low carbon economy, as key considerations throughout formulation of all policies and objectives. Table 8.1 below demonstrates how climate action provisions have been incorporated into elements of the Draft Plan and highlights the important and significant role it has to play, in the formulation of policies and objectives for the overall development of Limerick.
Table 8.1: Incorporation of climate consideration into each chapter of the Draft Plan
Chapter 1. Introduction
Identifies the creation of a climate resilient place as an overarching strategic outcome of the Draft Plan.
Chapter 2. Core Strategy
Supports the compact urban development approach with development focused on accessible locations and minimisation of travel.
Supports the development of brownfield sites and regeneration.
Chapter 3. Settlement and Housing Strategy
Supports compact growth.
Sets out that housing must demonstrate that climate change adaptation has been considered in siting, layout and design.
Climate action measures to be included as part of rural housing applications, to ensure a transition to a low carbon economy.
Establishes that consideration must be given to the impact of the pattern of development associated with one off housing on the climate and environment.
Chapter 4. A Strong Economy
Supports the transition to a low carbon economy.
Supports employment concentrated on public transport corridors and the proposed intensification and redevelopment of existing strategic employment areas.
Supports new employment which is aligned with climate action and the circular economy.
Supports casual trading, organic foods, local produce, seasonal and craft markets.
Supports home and e-working.
Chapter 5. Environment, Heritage, Landscape and Green Infrastructure
Emphasis on the need to preserve and protect our Biodiversity and Green Infrastructure (Natural Heritage
Supports the National Bio-diversity Action Plan.
Supports the All Ireland Pollinator Plan 2020-2025.
Protection of our Water Quality
Emphasises protection and reuse of building stock where appropriate.
Chapter 6. Sustainable Mobility and Transport
Emphasis on the pedestrian and cyclist and access to public transport and services.
Supports car and bike sharing.
Integrates land use and transport policies.
Supports Green Infrastructure and Blue ways ecosystems services approach.
Supports the decarbonising of motorised transport including public EV charging network.
Chapter 7. Infrastructure
Establishes requirement to address climate change in Strategic Planning Infrastructure.
Emphasises the benefits of a ‘Smart City’ and climate change.
Supports the circular economy with respect to waste.
Supports the matching of enabling water and waste water infrastructure with provision of development.
Supports Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS).
Chapter 8. Climate Action, Flood Risk and Transition to Low Carbon Economy
Supports the implementation of the Limerick City and County Climate Adaptation Strategy which was adopted in July 2019.
Supports Government and sectoral plans.
Supports renewable energy.
Supports Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and Management.
Supports the transition to a low carbon economy.
Supports district heating and the development of County wide policy.
Supports the decarbonising zones initiative.
Supports the incorporation of climate proofing measures into the design, planning layout and orientation and construction of all developments, including the use of sustainable materials, selection of suitable locations and the use of renewable energy sources.
Supports renewable energy.
Supports Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and Management.
Chapter 9. Sustainable Communities and Social Infrastructure
Supports the provision of residential development in tandem with public transport, sustainable neighbourhood infrastructure, quality open space, recreation and employment opportunities.
Supports the 10 minute settlement approach and sustainable urban villages.
Supports healthy place-making.
Places an emphasis on adaptability of social and community facilities.
Supports Nature Based Play.
Supports locally grown foods – community gardens and allotments.
Chapter 10. Compact Growth and Revitalisation
Supports the compact urban development approach with development focused on accessible locations and minimisation of travel.
Supports the development of brownfield sites and regeneration and the tackling of dereliction and vacancy.
Places an emphasis on the multi-functional role of village/Town Centres to provide a wide range of services to reduce the need to travel.
Increased emphasis on place-making - enhanced public realm, including improved accessibility for sustainable transport modes.
This chapter will focus on 3 key areas outlined below. The 3 key areas are interlinked and have a bearing on policy formulation throughout the Draft Plan as follows:
- Climate Action and Transition to a Low Carbon Economy;
- Renewable Energy.
8.2 Climate Change
8.2.1 International, National and Regional Policy
The European Climate Law established in 2020 sets out the commitment of the European Union to be climate neutral by 2050, which will have implications for Ireland’s energy and emission targets and other national targets set out in the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019 To Tackle Climate Breakdown. It introduces the requirement to produce and revise annually the Climate Action Plan. The Climate Action Plan will incorporate both mitigation and adaptation measures.
At national level, the National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act (2014) sets out the national objective of achieving a transition to a low carbon economy. This was given legislative effect by the Climate Action and Low Carbon Act 2015. The Act provided for the development of a National Adaptation Framework (NAF), which was published in December 2017. The NAF required sectoral and local adaptation strategies, which were prepared in 2019. In 2019, the Government published the Climate Action Plan 2019 to Tackle Climate Breakdown and the National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030 was published in September 2020. These Plans identify how Ireland will achieve its 2030 targets for carbon emissions and puts Ireland on a trajectory to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and also reiterates Ireland’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 will support Ireland’s transition to Net Zero and achieve a climate neutral economy by no later than 2050. It will establish a legally binding framework with clear targets and commitments set in law and ensure the necessary structures and processes are embedded on a statutory basis, to ensure we achieve our national, EU and international climate goals and obligations in the near and long term.
Other important legalisation at a national level includes:
- National Adaptation Framework (NAF 2018) - Developed under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 and adopted in 2018, this is Ireland’s first statutory national adaptation strategy that builds on the work carried out under NCCAF 2012, outlining a whole of Government and society approach to climate change adaptation in Ireland.
- National Mitigation Plan (NMP) 2017 - the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 is a whole of Government plan, which was published in 2017 and is Ireland’s first Plan in setting out a pathway to achieve the required level of decarbonisation.
- The White Paper, published in 2015, on Energy Policy - Ireland’s Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030 sets out a framework to guide energy policy in the period to 2030, in order to meet national, EU and international targets.
- National Climate Change Adaptation Framework (2012) - This non-statutory framework was Ireland’s first climate change adaptation framework, providing a strategic policy focus aimed at reducing Ireland’s vulnerability to climate change, by ensuring adaptation actions were taken across key sectors at national and at a local level.
The National Planning Framework supports commitments to achieve the transition to a low carbon economy and a climate resilient society. National Strategic Outcome 08 sets outs the policy position in this regard. Furthermore, the NPF sets out the principles of sustainable, compact growth coupled with sustainable transport choices, as a means of reducing emissions, delivering more sustainable communities and futureproofing the development of the Country. In Section 9.2 of the NPF Resource Efficiency and Transition to a Low Carbon Economy, the policy objectives for achieving resource efficiency and the transition to a low carbon economy are outlined. National Policy Objective 54 aims to ‘reduce our carbon footprint by integrating climate action into the planning system in support of national targets for climate policy mitigation and adaptation objectives, as well as targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions’. The NPF goes onto emphasise the need to increase renewable sources of energy, sustainably manage waste streams and to ensure better water quality. The role of waste streams should be examined in order to determine which of these could contribute to energy generation through processes such as anaerobic digestion or perhaps combustion.
All of these are echoed in the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the Southern Region (RSES), where a similar commitment to a more sustainable approach to development is evident. The RSES sets out its commitment to climate action and transition to a low carbon economy and to support measures to build resilience to climate change throughout the region, to address impact reduction, adaptive capacity, awareness raising, providing for nature-based solutions and emergency planning. It also supports the development of a regional decarbonisation plan and measures such as carbon sequestration and carbon capture and storage.
Many established planning principles such as compact growth, integration of land use and transport planning, would also have an effect on helping the transition to a low carbon future and help with the adoption of renewable energy.
Policy CAF P1 - Climate Action Policy - It is a policy of the Council to implement international and national objectives, to support Limerick’s transition to a low carbon economy and support the climate action policies included in the Draft Plan.
Objective CAF O1 - Compliance with Higher Tier Climate Legislation and Guidance - It is an objective of the Council to 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) and any revised or forthcoming adaptation, mitigation or climate action strategies or plans at local, regional and national level in the formulation of any plans or policies.
The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment has made €10 million available over 5 years to establish four Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs). The establishment of the offices is a key action under Ireland's National Adaptation Framework and National Mitigation Plan and will have an important role in coordinating climate action at local government level in Ireland. The Climate Action Regional Offices, which were established since 2018, are being operated by a lead Local Authority in four different regions that have been grouped together, based on climate risk assessment with a focus on the predominant risk(s) in each geographical area. Cork County Council is the lead authority for the Southern Region, in which Limerick is located. The establishment of these offices will enable a more coordinated response to climate issues across the whole of local government and will help build on the experience and expertise which exists across the sector.
At a local level, Limerick City and County Council’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (CCAS) 2019 – 2024 has been developed in line with the Department for Communities Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) Local Authority Adaptation Strategy Development Guidelines and was adopted by Elected Members in July 2019. It is a high-level document designed to mainstream the issue of climate change in Local Authority plans, policies and operations, in order to prepare for the challenges of climate change and adapting to its effects.
Objective CAF O2 - Partnership with Service Providers - It is an objective of the Council to work in partnership with existing service providers to facilitate required enhancement and upgrading of existing infrastructure and networks (subject to appropriate environmental assessment and the planning process) and support the safeguarding of strategic energy corridors from encroachment by other developments, that could compromise the delivery of energy networks.
Objective CAF O3 - Sustainable Development – It is an objective of the Council to support sustainable travel, energy efficient projects, provision of green spaces and open space and sustainable residential development projects, as a means of addressing climate change.
Objective CAF O4 - Climate Proofing – It is an objective of the Council to ensure climate proofing measures are incorporated into the design, planning, layout and orientation and construction of all developments, including the use of sustainable materials, selection of suitable locations and the use of renewable energy sources.
Objective CAF 05 - Energy Efficiency in Existing Development – It is an objective of the Council to support the retrofitting of existing buildings over their demolition and the integration of renewables into existing buildings, thereby ensuring a fabric first approach is taken.
Objective CAF O6 - Energy Efficiency in New Developments – It is an objective of the Council to ensure that all developments are designed to take account of the impacts of climate change. This will include the installation of rainwater harvesting systems, sustainable urban drainage systems and nature based solutions for water management. Energy efficiency and renewable energy measures should be 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.
Objective CAF O7 - Near Zero Energy Buildings - It is an objective of the Council to support and promote climate smart and the Near Zero Energy Building (NZEB) standard of building, or equivalent, for all new developments.
Objective CAF O8 - Renewable Energy Objective - It is an objective of the Council to promote and support development of renewable energy sources, which will achieve low carbon outputs including on-land and off-shore renewable energy production, which support tidal turbine, PV, community energy companies and battery technology, subject to adequate environmental and ecological protection.
8.2.2 Climate Adaptation and Mitigation and Land Use Planning
Land use planning is one of the most effective processes to facilitate local adaptation to climate change. Tools such as land use zoning, policies in relation to compact growth, sustainable transport and the 10 minute city/town concept all can assist in minimising the development risks in Limerick from increasing greenhouse gas emissions, development in inappropriate locations, such as flood risk or other natural hazards, or risk due to the changing climate.
The land use planning framework set out in the Draft Plan provides opportunities that can assist climate resilience and achieving the long-term goal of low carbon communities. However, it requires a shift from business as usual, towards more sustainable ways of living and working. Key measures include:
- Managing population and employment growth to deliver compact growth in appropriate locations
- Reduced car dependency and a transition to more sustainable modes of transport, including increased walking and cycling.
- Enhanced energy efficiency through developments in renewable energy and electric vehicles is essential.
- Protection of our natural resources, including water supply and utilising blue – green infrastructure measures and nature based solutions to minimise the risk of flooding and address surface water disposal.
- Maintain, restore and enhance the natural heritage of Limerick and seek to improve connectivity of blue – green networks throughout Limerick as a means of improving biodiversity and the health and well being of the citizens of Limerick.
8.2.3 Climate Adaptation
Adaptation is dealing with actions identified to manage and reduce the negative effect of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage. Climate adaptation also seeks to take advantage of opportunities that may arise, such as flood alleviation, water conservation, emergency response planning and requiring development to occur in a compact and sustainable manner, or planting crops that may benefit from climate change. One of the main aims of adaptation is to reduce the vulnerability of Limerick’s environment and economy to these effects. Adaptation needs to take into account the need to ensure critical infrastructure is protected and will be able to function in this climate altered future, infrastructure such as the provision of necessities such as water, energy and transportation. It is necessary that the following is considered, in terms of addressing climate adaptation:
- Ensure new critical infrastructure such as transport, communications, waste and water facilities and energy supply is designed and managed to minimise effects of future climate events, such as severe storms, droughts and coastal or river flooding and/or coastal erosion. Infrastructure in areas such as close to the Shannon Estuary in particular, needs to be designed or modified with future risks in mind.
- Ensure that vulnerable developments are directed away from areas at risk, in particular areas at risk of flooding from rivers or coastal flooding or erosion.
- Encourage the adoption of nature based solutions and the provision of blue – green infrastructure in all situations, where possible, as it provides many benefits, including the regulation of rainfall, reduction in storm flows and provides clean water and air.
- Consider the conversion or maintenance of land at risk of flooding to less vulnerable uses e.g. for natural habitats, or parks, where such land does not form part of the riparian zone or riparian buffer and where it would not interfere with the flood regulation functions of the floodplain.
- Continue to work with the Office of Public Works in the development of flood relief schemes and the maintenance of existing flood defences.
- Require new developments to demonstrate that climate risk and energy efficiency has been considered in the design of buildings and the site layout and ensure that the location, layout and design of new development accommodate predicted future climate change impacts. This approach will require innovative building design, new materials and standards (to accommodate hotter summers, while withstanding changes in precipitation patterns and more intense storms for example). When assessing applications, the Planning Authority will be cognisant of the requirements of adaptation.
Figure 8.1 – Climate Adaptation and Mitigation (Source RSES Southern Region)
8.2.4 Climate Mitigation
Climate mitigation is the management of resources and activities that contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases. To date, no mitigation plan has been produced for Limerick, unlike the adaptation plan which was adopted in July 2019. Many core planning functions, such as regulation of development, use of brown field sites or reuse of old buildings are climate mitigation measures in their own right, as they ensure maximum use of existing resources. Mitigation also considers sustainable transport, carbon sequestration, clean energy and energy efficiency, which are tools in addressing climate mitigation. The goal of mitigation is to avoid significant human interference with the climate system and attempt to stabilise greenhouse gas levels in a timeframe sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change. The implementation of a number of measures, including delivery of a modal shift in terms of sustainable transport, implementation of blue green infrastructure and nature based solutions and further development of clean energy sources are critical to the delivery of mitigation.
Planning policies outlined in this chapter set out the Council’s position in ensuring the delivery of renewable energy sources and require a balanced approach to be taken to the development of renewable energy technologies, so it can play a role in climate mitigation. Additional measures such as the creation of new woodlands, conservation of bogs and forested areas, all play a role in carbon sequestration and are also key mitigation measures.
Objective CAF O9 - Achieving Climate Resilience - It is an objective of the Council to promote climate resilience in development and economic activities that are regulated by planning. It is important to ensure that any developments are climate resilient as they will need to function in a climate altered environment. This means that they will be able to withstand increased intensity of storm events and rainfall and through adequate design, location and drainage elements, would not contribute to problems elsewhere, such as increased run off.
Objective CAF O10 - Woodland Creation, Forestry and Preservation of Bogs - It is an objective of the Council to encourage and facilitate the creation, maintenance and preservation of woodlands, forestry and bogs in response to climate mitigation and in the interest of biodiversity.
Objective CAF O11 - Nature Based Solutions - It is an objective of the Council to promote integration and delivery of nature based solutions and infrastructure in new developments, including surface water management, public realm and community projects as a means of managing flood risk and enhancing the natural environment.
Objective CAF O12 - Urban Greening - It is an objective of the Council to support urban greening and planting initiatives across the city, towns and villages.
8.2.5 +CityXChange project
The +CityxChange project seeks to enable the co-creation of the future we want to live in. This includes the development of a framework and supporting tools to enable a common energy supply market, supported by a connected community, which leads to recommendations for new policy intervention, market (de)regulation and business models that will deliver positive energy communities and integrating e-Mobility as a service (eMaaS). The +CityxChange project is developing and deploying Positive Energy Blocks and Districts (PEB/PED) and scaling these out as part of the European Clean Energy Transition in cities. Some of the key goals and objectives of the project include:
- Increased energy efficiency to become a low carbon city;
- Development of Positive Energy Block (PEB), which is a designated zone of more than 3 buildings that has the capacity to annually produce more energy than it consumes. The block may benefit from a renewable energy resource(s) located adjacent to the block, producing renewable energy dedicated for the PEB;
- Develop Smart Energy Grid Smart Metering and Smart Energy Grids as part of the energy infrastructure in a low carbon city. The smart energy grid will enable local citizens to take more control over their energy use, to participate in how energy is generated, stored and distributed at a local level;
- Electric Mobility as a service (EMaaS) - the use of fossil fuels for transport is a significant contributor to climate change and poor air quality in cities. Electrification of various modes of transport will make a significant contribution to addressing the quality of life for city dwellers and help businesses to reduce their carbon footprints. Electric Mobility as a service, together with a range of low carbon transport initiatives, will be piloted in Limerick to support the city’s low carbon transport.
Figure 8.2 +CityXChange Project
Objective CAF O13 - +CityXChange Project - It is an objective of the Council to promote Limerick City to become the First Lighthouse City in Ireland and support the outcomes of the +CityXChange project and the use of digital technologies, in empowering communities and citizens to become more climate resilient.
8.2.6 Transition to a Low Carbon Economy
The transition to a low carbon economy is a complex subject with implications for the whole of society and its entire range of economic activities. Many different sectors will approach it from their own view point and many, like agriculture and forestry, largely lie outside the scope of planning regulation.
Policy CAF P2 - Transition to a Low Carbon Economy - It is a policy of the Council to support the transition to a low carbon climate resilient economy, by way of reducing greenhouse gases, increasing renewable energy and improving energy efficiency and will future proof policies and objectives to deliver on this approach, in so far as possible.
A climate altered future has implications for all aspects of activity that is regulated and informed by land use planning and a wide ranging approach to the topic is required. One of the most important considerations in the transition to low carbon economy is the idea of a just transition. Some traditional sectors of the economy that are heavily dependent on fossil fuels, or carbon intensive raw materials, will be at a disadvantage as a result of the transition. It is important that the burden of change is shared equally and that certain sectors of the economy and society are adequately supported through the transition process.
Managing a successful low carbon transition means investing more in clean energy transition-related technologies, as well as moving towards more sustainable and perhaps localised modes of production and consumption. One of the key challenges for the climate-neutral transition is to reallocate resources from carbon-intensive to climate-neutral developments and infrastructure. Successful economic modernisation requires stimulating local economic diversification towards clean industries through decarbonisation, innovation and digitalisation.
Policy CAF P3 – Promote Awareness and Behavioural Change- It is a policy of the Council to promote awareness and support behavioural change in relation to climate change and transition to a low carbon economy.
Policy CAF P4 – Co–operation with Relevant Stakeholders - It is a policy of the Council to cooperate with the Climate Action Regional Office (CARO) and other relevant stakeholders, in respect of adaptation and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and future climate change adaptation strategies.
Objective CAF O14 - Energy Generation - It is an objective of the Council to support the local production of renewable energy and connection to gas network. Where electricity is being generated locally, the Council will support the provision of infrastructure for its transmission to the grid, subject to it fulfilling technical and environmental requirements.
Objective CAF O15 - Local Energy Production - It is an objective of the Council to support localised renewable and carbon friendly means of heating and energy provision, including district heating systems. New technologies such as air to water and geo thermal may have a role to play in this regard.
Objective CAF O16 - Circular Economy - It is an objective of the Council to encourage the adoption of the circular economy through promotion of the reuse, recycling and reduction of the use of raw materials and resources.
Objective CAF O17 - Low Energy Building Materials - It is an objective of the Council to encourage the use of low energy building materials and design in all developments.
8.2.7 Energy and emissions balance
Limerick City and County Council are aware of the importance of managing our energy consumption and emissions outputs, in terms of addressing climate change and the transition to a low carbon economy. The Council have commissioned the preparation of an Energy and Emissions Balance Report for Limerick, which considers energy consumption, carbon emissions and fuel costs. The report focussed on energy and emissions generated between 2000 and 2020 and the projected energy demands and emissions from 2021 up to year 2030.
A top-down approach for all sectors is being adopted, in order to proportion the energy consumption data and associated carbon emissions and fuel cost estimates to a Limerick level. This allows for an indicative representation of energy consumption, carbon emissions and fuel costs, within Limerick for each of the reporting years, by sector and by fuel. It has identified an increase in energy consumption between 2000 and 2020 and has predicted a gradual decrease in carbon emissions, as the need to take climate action into account is recognised. One of the most important points raised in the document, is the need for the preparation of a Local Authority Climate Action Plan, following on from the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Amendment Bill 2021. This will be produced within the lifetime of the Draft Plan. Where necessary the contents of the Plan will align with the contents of the Local Authority Climate Action Plan, which will contain both adaptation and mitigation measures, which are also a feature of the Draft Plan.
Objective CAF O18 – Energy and Emissions Balance - It is an objective of the Council to support the Energy and Emissions Balance Report and updates of the report as they are prepared. The Council will also support the preparation of a Local Authority Climate Action Plan as outlined in the report.
8.2.8 Decarbonising Zone
Action 165 of the Climate Action Plan 2019 requires each Local Authority to identify a Decarbonisation Zone (DZ). A Decarbonising Zone is an area spatially identified by the Local Authority, in which a range of climate mitigation measures can co-exist to address local low carbon energy, greenhouse gas emissions and climate needs. The range of policies and projects developed are specific to the energy and climate characteristics of the spatial area covered by the DZ.
A Decarbonising Zone should also address the wider co-benefits of air quality, improved health, biodiversity, embodied carbon, agricultural practices, sustainable land management, lower noise levels, waste, water, circular economy etc. and should integrate with smart data and ‘smart cities’ initiatives. A Decarbonising Zone can also explore the co-benefits of climate adaptation and examine a range of local measures, such as climate proofing, afforestation, green and blue infrastructure, reducing heat island effects, citizen awareness and behavioural change.
Objective CAF O19 - Decarbonising Zones - It is an objective of the Council to support the identification of a Decarbonising Zone by designating a spatial area, in which a range of climate mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity measures and action owners are identified, to address local low carbon energy, greenhouse gas emissions and climate needs, to contribute to national climate action targets and work with statutory agencies and stakeholders as appropriate.
8.3 Flooding, Flood Risk Management and Water Management
The Section 28 Planning Guidelines The Planning System and Flood Risk Management (DHPLG/OPW, 2009) and associated Technical Appendices and Circulars, are the basis of the Council’s policy in relation to development and flood risk management. It plays a key part in informing zoning decisions and decisions on individual planning applications, where flood risk is identified as a factor. The guidelines ensure that the key principles of flood risk management and sustainable planning are adopted. The sequential approach to managing flood risk within the planning system is one of the first aspects to consider and where uncertainty exists, the precautionary approach is taken. The stages of appraisal and assessment are set out in the 2009 Guidelines.
In the preparation of the Draft Plan, in accordance with The Planning System and Flood Risk Management, Guidelines for Planning Authorities, a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) has been prepared to assess flood risk within the plan area. The SFRA is set out in Volume 4 of this Draft Plan. The precautionary approach has largely been employed to land use zoning to avoid directing development towards areas at risk of flooding. Areas identified as being at risk of flooding, which are being put forward for land use zoning, have been subject to assessment through a justification test, to determine its suitability for inclusion and have only been considered, where they are determined to be within or adjoining the core of the City Centre. Where particular areas identified as being liable to flood were examined as being strategically important for the consolidated and coherent growth of Limerick’s settlements and zoned accordingly, a site-specific flood risk assessment will be required to accompany development proposals for these areas and mitigation measures for site and building works will be required to be integrated.
Policy CAF P5 - Managing Flood Risk - It is a policy of the Council to protect Flood Zone A and Flood Zone B from inappropriate development and direct developments/land uses into the appropriate lands, in accordance with The Planning System and Flood Risk Management Guidelines for Planning Authorities 2009 (or any superseding document) and the guidance contained in Development Management Standards. Where a development/land use is proposed that is inappropriate within the Flood Zone, then the development proposal will need to be accompanied by a Development Management Justification Test and site specific Flood Risk Assessment in accordance with the criteria set out under The Planning System and Flood Risk Management Guidelines for Planning Authorities 2009 and Circular PL2/2014 (as updated/superseded). In Flood Zone C, the developer should satisfy themselves that the probability of flooding is appropriate to the development being proposed and should consider the implications of climate change.
Objective CAF O20 – Flood Risk Assessments – It is an objective of the Council to require a Site-specific Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) for all planning applications in areas at risk of flooding (coastal/tidal, fluvial, pluvial or groundwater), where deemed necessary. The detail of these Site-specific FRAs (or commensurate assessments of flood risk for minor developments) will depend on the level of risk and scale of development. A detailed Site-specific FRA should quantify the risks, the effects of selected mitigation and the management of any residual risks. The assessments shall consider and provide information on the implications of climate change with regard to flood risk in relevant locations.
Objective CAF O21 – Identified Flood Risk – It is an objective of the Council to:
- Ensure that no development shall commence on the lands identified as being at flood risk adjacent to the Raheen Business Park in the townlands of Ballycummin/Rootiagh, zoned for High Tech/Manufacturing, until a Site-specific Flood Risk Assessment, including hydraulic model has been prepared for the lands, which demonstrates that the flood risk for the lands can be mitigated or that a less vulnerable use can be accommodated on site.
- Ensure that on the Enterprise and Employment lands located to the northwest of the M20/M7/N18 junction, that no encroachment onto, or loss of the flood plain occurs at this location and that only water compatible development should be permitted for the lands that are identified as being at risk of flooding.
Objective CAF O22 – Cooperation with Other Agencies – It is an objective of the Council to work with other bodies and organisations, as appropriate, to help protect critical infrastructure, including water and wastewater, within Limerick, from risk of flooding. Any subsequent plans shall consider, as appropriate any new and/or emerging data, including, when available, any relevant information contained in the CFRAM Flood Risk Management Plans and as recommended in the SFRA for the Draft Plan.
Objective CAF O23 – Flood Relief Schemes– It is an objective of the Council to support and facilitate the development of Flood Relief Schemes as identified in the CFRAM 10 Year Investment Programme.
Objective CAF O24 – Minor Flood and Mitigation Works and Coastal Protections Schemes – It is an objective of the Council to support and facilitate the Office of Public Works Minor Flood and Mitigation Works and Coastal Protections Schemes.
Objective CAF O25 –Strategic Flood Risk Assessment - It is an objective of the Council to have regard to the recommendations set out in the Draft Strategic Flood Risk Assessment prepared to support the Draft Plan.
8.3 Water Management
Closely related to the idea of adaptation to flooding and management of water for flooding purposes is the wider idea of water management in a broader sense. Climate projections mention that summers are likely to be hotter and drier and this raises the possibility of drought, such as that in the summer of 2018. It is important that suitable allowance is made for climate change in flood risk responses. In this regard, consideration should also be given to water management in its wider context, not just in relation to flooding but also in relation to water storage and rain water harvesting to provide a reserve of water for possible drought periods.
8.4 Renewable Energy
Renewable energy continues to play an important role in terms of energy production nationally and within Limerick. As technologies emerge and alter, Limerick needs to position itself, to ensure that it has a safe, secure, sustainable and affordable supply of energy, which is central in securing sustainable development. Renewable energy is defined as renewable non – fossil energy sources such as, but not limited to wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydropower, bioenergy, landfill gas, sewerage treatment plant gas, bio gases and bio – char, in the EU Renewable Energy Directive.
The Climate Action Plan (2019) includes targets to increa