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Coastal Flooding & Erosion Risk Management

Coastal Flooding and Erosion Risk Management

The Office of Public Works (OPW) is the lead agency for the coordination and implementation of Government policy on the management of flood risk in Ireland, which includes coastal flood risk and erosion. The OPW has developed the Irish Coastal Protection Strategy. This major study provides invaluable and essential information required to inform policy in this area, particularly for local authorities in relation to the proper planning and development of coastal areas.

Coastal erosion is a necessary and vital part of any healthy functioning beach and dune system. Without the flexibility that erosion allows, the beach profile cannot adjust to damp down the effects of storms. Erosion may be cyclic in the sense that it is balanced by periods of accretion leading to no net change in shoreline position. The result of hardening the backshore with shoreline defences can themselves prove problematic, with a serious risk that the entire beach will be lost due to wave reflection and sand scour.


Funding of flooding and erosion management studies and schemes are considered by the OPW, for up to a maximum of 90% of the cost. The OPW requires that proposals and funding applications for structural measures to prevent or mitigate erosion should be supported by an appropriate coastal erosion risk management study, which fully investigates, substantiates and demonstrates the merits of any measures being proposed. Such studies must be conducted where erosion risk management works are being proposed in sensitive environmental coastal locations (i.e. those which have environmental designations e.g. NHAs, SACs, SPAs). The vast majority of Donegal’s coastline has one or more such environmental designation.


Inishowen Municipal District

The OPW funded Donegal County Council to conduct a Coastal Erosion Risk Management study of five sites in Inishowen, conducted by the RPS Group consultant engineers (click Slodden to Binbane Report).  The recommendations of the report highlighted the need for ongoing monitoring of each of the five sites studied at Rockstown Harbour, Tullagh Strand, Pollan Strand (Ballyliffen), Five Finger Strand and Binbane up to 2025 when a further assessment will be made. This monitoring will determine if there are any erosion trends developing that are not in keeping with what has been recorded in general since the mid-nineteenth century and may reflect more recent climate change impacts. This approach ensures study is consistent with national best practice and based on scientific evidence allows us to gain the best insight into coastal processes in order to allow most appropriate responses. The OPW is now undertaking the recommended monitoringof the Slodden to Binbane coastal cell in 2021 with the extent of this planned Baseline Survey shown below.



Glenties Municipal District

A CFERM study is underway at four sites in the Glenties Municipal District including;

  • Narin and the Gweebarra Bay,
  • Maghery,
  • Inishfree Bay (Carrickfinn Peninsula),
  • Magheroarty to Drumnatinney.

Similar to the Inishowen study, this survey will determine if there are any erosion trends developing and allows us to gain the best insight into coastal processes in order to allow most appropriate responses.


The project was delayed due to Covid19 restrictions affecting the roll-out of fieldwork and site inspections. However, specialist aerial surveys of all site areas are now underway, in line with the OPW requirements. These survey reports will allow mapping of the present-day coastline and modelling of potential future change. The final report and recommendations are expected in the summer.



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