Report warns that flooding could cost State €1bn a year if we do nothing

A report has warned that future flooding events will cost the State more than a billion euro in damages, unless we do more to stop the catastrophic effects of climate change.

The Government has announced a new plan, and promised €10m to set up regional centres to deal with the issue.

The National Adaptation Framework, published today, sets out how we should be dealing with the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events such as Storm Ophelia which hit Ireland last October.

Three people lost their lives during the storm, 385,000 homes were left without power while 109,000 had no water supply.

Speaking to Ocean FM, Minister for the Environment Denis Naughten says it is about taking action here and now.

He said: "We are seeing an increase in the frequency of flooding, an increase in the frequency of storms.

"I suppose the focus for many people across the country will be that issue of flooding and the predictions are, at the moment, flooding on an annualised basis is costing homeowners, businesses and the economy about €192m a year.

"That's projected, if we do nothing, to rise to over €1bn a year by 2050."

However, Minister Naughten says flooding is not the only issue we need to deal with:

He said: "During our summers we'd expect, now that we have less rainfall, that there is going to be an issue of drought. How can we augment existing public water supplies to ensure that we don't have water rationing?

"What impact is that going to have on agriculture? What impact is that going to have in relation to health, in relation to air quality, and so forth? All of these issues are being looked at now."

Four regional offices involving local authorities are also being set up to provide a more co-ordinated approach on dealing with the impacts of climate change.

Up to €10m will be spent on the plan over the next five years.

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