Inter-Departmental Group on Managing Coastal Change

The Inter-Departmental Group is jointly chaired by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the OPW and will bring forward options and recommendations for the Government to consider.

Coastal protection and localised flooding issues are matters, in the first instance, for each local authority to investigate and address.

To assist Local Authorities in managing the coastline for coastal erosion, the OPW has undertaken a national assessment of coastal erosion (including erosion rates) under the Irish Coastal Protection Strategy Study (ICPSS) and the results of this study have been published on the OPW website.

This data enables Local Authorities to develop appropriate plans and strategies for the sustainable management of the coastline in their counties.

The Local Authorities may carry out coastal protection works using their own resources. If necessary, they may also put forward proposals to the relevant Government Departments for funding of appropriate measures. Intervention or hard defences has the potential to cause problems further along the coast, any proposed intervention measures are best developed in conjunction with a formal coastal risk management study that has carefully investigated the problem and explored the full range of management options.

The OPW operates the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme since 2009, under which applications for funding from local authorities for small localised works are considered for measures costing up to €750,000 in each instance. Funding for coastal risk management studies may also be applied for under this scheme.

Funding of up to 90% of the cost is available for projects that meet the eligibility criteria including a requirement that the proposed measures are cost beneficial. It is a matter for each local authority to ensure that all the necessary environmental, statutory and regulatory approvals are in place prior to any works being undertaken.

The OPW guidelines for funding applications under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme, together with a full list of funding approvals since 2009 is available on the OPW website

2021 Minor Works

Click to access e1a017f9-ff0c-4bb9-86fe-64586e8429b8.pdf

Note: FOI submitted 25/10/2021 for details of membership, remit, agendas/minutes of meetings for 2020/201, and any reports produced for or by this Group. Dept passed to for response




The Coastal Change Technical Working Group (hereafter referred to as ‘the Group’) is established by the Inter-Departmental Group on Managing Coastal Change (the ‘Inter-Departmental Group or IDG’).


The Group is established to address relevant technical issues associated with the identification of data relevant to the development of a national coastal strategy, including an assessment of the national assets at risk on the coast associated with future coastal change.

The Group is to:

  • Identify the current data, information and research available across State organisations relevant to the monitoring of costal change,
  • At a national level, carry out an audit (by Local Authority area) of the indicative critical infrastructure and assets at risk from coastal change, derived from currently available information and data by reference to both the medium and high end sea level rise projections,
  • Carry out research, including in other relevant jurisdictions, on best practice in estimating the projected impact of coastal change (to critical infrastructure and assets) and monitoring that impact, at a national level,
  • In relation to projecting and monitoring coastal change nationally and measuring its impact, recommend to the IDG additional data, information and research considered necessary in the short, medium and longer terms and identify the means and expected timeframe through which this should be captured, and
  • Identify to the IDG any locations with infrastructure and assets that are considered to require more detailed analysis to determine the extent of the impact of climate change in the medium and high end sea level rise projections.


The Group will be chaired by the Office of Public Works (OPW).

The Group shall include senior representatives from:

  • OPW (Chair)
  • DHPLG and Met Éireann
  • Dept. for Infrastructure, Rivers, of Northern Ireland
  • EPA (Hydrometric Section)
  • GSI
  • Marine Institute
  • CCMA

An Expert Panel comprising of independent experts from Ireland and/or overseas may also be appointed to advise the Group.

Other attendees may be invited on an ad-hoc basis for the purpose of presentation or discussion of specific issues.

4.         REPORT

The Group shall report to the Inter-Departmental Group in a timely manner to facilitate reporting by the Inter-Departmental Group within 6 months of its establishment.


The Group will typically meet monthly during the first 6 months or as considered necessary.

Inter-Departmental Group on

National Coastal Change Management Strategy

Draft Terms of Reference

  1. Rationale for Group

Rising seas levels and more frequent extreme sea level events, combined with coastal erosion, are projected to have profound impacts on communities and infrastructure around Ireland.   It is also projected that the majority of this impact is expected to occur by the year 2050 and could potentially affect up to 2 million people who live within 5km of the coast, all the major cities, and much of the country’s industry and infrastructure and utilities, including transport, electricity and water supplies.  Following on from a presentation to the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure on these risks, it was agreed to establish an inter-departmental group to oversee the development of a scoping report on a National coastal change management strategy.

This would, build on preliminary risk analysis by OPW, existing climate adaptation plans, the National Planning Framework and the draft National Marine Planning Framework, to provide a framework for key decisions to be taken on how Ireland could best manage its coastline in light of the future risks.

  • Terms of Reference of Group

Inter-Departmental Group to initially scope out an approach for the development of an integrated, whole of Government coastal change management strategy and report back to Government within a period of 6 months with its initial findings and recommendations.  It is envisaged that the scoping report will address:-

  • Approaches to coastal change management in EU and other jurisdictions;
  • Baseline and other data capture and research requirements to inform developing, implementing and monitoring a national coastal management strategy, to include potential damages assessment;
  • Outline of the economic, environmental, cultural and social policy issues arising with approaches to coastal change management;
  • Criteria that can help inform planning and investment decisions on future use of all coastal areas, including any guidance requirements;
  • Recommendations on future structures and roles of Government Departments to deal with coastal change and to deliver a national coastal change policy, including adaptation strategies, resource implications, legislative and regulatory change requirements and a communications strategy to underpin it.
  • Governance Arrangements and Proposed Structure

To advance this work, an overall steering group will be established together with a Technical Sub-Group and any other sub-group as deemed appropriate.  The former will be co-chaired by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the OPW, while the OPW will chair the technical sub-group.

The steering group will comprise representatives of:

  • Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Co-chair)
  • Office of Public Works (Co-chair)
  • Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine 
  • Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment 
  • Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
  • Department of Defence 
  • Department of Public Expenditure and Reform 
  • Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport 
  • CCMA

Other Departments/Agencies will be invited to attend as the agenda requires and it is also intended to invite relevant national and international experts.

The Technical Sub-Group’s role is to identify data requirements for a national coastal strategy, including an assessment of national assets at risk on the coast.  It is proposed that the following stakeholders will be included in this group:

  • OPW (Chair)
  • DHPLG, including Met Éireann
  • CCMA
  • EPA
  • Marine Institute
  • Dept. for Infrastructure of Northern Ireland
  • GSI

It is proposed to commence the work, with a workshop to which all the constituent parties will be invited to ensure that there is clarity on the scope of the work.

Inter-Departmental Group on

National Coastal Change Management Strategy

Meeting on 3 September 2020 at 3.30 by WEBEX


Part 1 (Ministers in attendance)

  1. Introductions – Feargal Ó Coigligh, DHPLG and John Sydenham, OPW
  • Opening remarks by Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, and Minister of State at Office of Public Works

Part 2

  • Terms of Reference of Group
  • Presentations
  1. DCCAE – Justina Corcoran – Principal Officer, Climate Adaptation and Citizen Engagement Division
    1. OPW – Jim Casey – Chartered Engineer, Coastal Section
    1. DHPLG Terrestrial Planning – Stewart Logan, Senior Planning Adviser
    1. DHPLG Marine Planning – Conor McCabe, Principal Officer, Marine Planning and Development

Feedback and Discussion

  • Terms of Reference for Technical Sub Group
  • Next Steps and Date for Initial Input
  • Date for next meeting
  • AOB

Inter-Departmental Group on

National Coastal Change Management Strategy

Meeting on 3 September 2020 at 3.30 by WEBEX

Co-Chairs: Feargal Ó Coigligh, DHLGH; John Sydenham, OPW.

Joined by: Minister Darragh O’Brien and Minister Patrick O’Donovan.

Attendees: Ciarán Hayes CCMA, Raphael Crowley DAFM, Tony O’Sullivan DAFM, Eoin Riordan DCCAE, Justina Corcoran DCCAE, Garrett O’Rorke DPER, Paul Kilkenny DPER, Conor McCabe DHLGH, Stewart Logan DHLGH, Laura Behan DTTAS, Derek Devaney OPW, Jim Casey OPW, Brian Brogan OPW, Ciarán Conroy OPW, David Kelly SRA, Kevin Lynch SRA.

Apologies: Niall Ó Donnchú DHLGH.

  1. Opening remarks by Minister’s O’Donovan and O’Brien
  2. Attendees were welcomed to the first meeting of the Inter-Departmental Group on National Coastal Change Management Strategy by the Chair, with special welcome to Ministers O’Brien and O’Donovan.
  3. It was acknowledged by all that coastal change was a very pressing issue, with real human impact. It will be important for the Group to consider how best to protect Ireland from the impacts of coastal change.
  4. It will be important to examine what can be done in the short term as well as what might form part of a medium and longer term strategy. There are communities currently living with the threat of losing their homes and land.
  5. It is a complex issue that will benefit from the input from all parties represented, driven by DHLGH and the OPW.
  6. The Group will be responsible for producing a piece of work that is critical into the future and future management of the various elements of coastal change management.
  7. The Ministers requested that elements of a strategy be fast-tracked in order to address current issues and in this regard the Group was encouraged to see how quickly the scoping report could be prepared and to look at some of the draft options that may be available to Local Authorities in the interim.
  8. It will be important to have conversations on this matter with all stakeholder and colleagues in Northern Ireland to have an all-encompassing view.
  9. Both Ministers offered the full support of their respective Departments to aid progression of this crucial work. It will be important to consider possible options for short-term mitigation measures in terms of both policy and physical works that may be required.
  • Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference of the Group were generally agreed, with some discussion around the following:

  • Considering adjusting the Terms of Reference following the Ministers’ reinforcement of the immediate nature of the issues.
  • It was acknowledged that we are an island nation but other jurisdictions are in a similar position with relation to coastline so there are lessons to be learned by examining the approaches of other countries and by drawing on their expertise.
  • The OPW will be able to provide significant detail on the current position of the areas that are likely to be affected.
  • It was agreed to keep both Ministers informed on matters as progress is made.
  • Any additional comments on the TOR should be returned by the end of next week (Fri 11th September).
  • Presentations

Presentations were given as follows, with thanks to the contributors:

a.           DCCAE – Justina Corcoran – Principal Officer, Climate Adaptation and Citizen Engagement Division;

b.           OPW – Jim Casey – Chartered Engineer, Coastal Section;

c.           DHLGH Terrestrial Planning – Stewart Logan, Senior Planning Adviser, National, Regional and Urban Planning;

d.           DHLGH Marine Planning – Conor McCabe, Principal Officer, Marine Planning and Development;

Discussion following the presentations centred around the following:

  • It was suggested to contact Marine Institute in relation to their current work.
  • The importance of marine spatial planning reforms was noted.
  • It was also noted that coastal local authorities are dealing with coastal flooding and erosion issues right now and needed national assistance in terms of an appropriate policy response.  
  • The presentations accurately highlighted the complexity of the issues and the multiplicity of the stakeholders involved, and put coherence to the roles that complement and overlap each other.
  • A single point of contact in relation to coastal change may be beneficial to ensure cohesion between all stakeholders.
  • It was clarified that the scoping report would contribute to a framework that will inform decision makers on the most appropriate and structured approach to decision making.
  • Terms of Reference for the Technical Group

The TOR for the Technical Group were generally agreed, with discussion arising in relation to the following:

  • There is much data available to inform the group of the areas at risk.
  • Areas for examination include the timeline surrounding risk, the gaps in available data and which areas may need more detailed analysis, how to approach a longer term strategy.
  •  The experience of other jurisdictions will be important – it may be relevant to engage external experts to discuss potential actions relating to storms, surges and erosion rates, among others. As an island it was noted that the participation of the  Department of Infrastructure and Rivers in Northern Ireland was very important.
  • Web presence for the work of the Group will be important and the group will examine the most efficient way to launch an online presence.
  • It may also be beneficial to engage representatives from Climate Action Regional Offices in relation to the relevant sea coasts.
  • Next Steps and Date for Initial Input

All stakeholders were asked to consider a short description on what they are doing as an organisation and to outline if there already are adaptation plans in place. Areas of interest included:

  • Heritage – assets at coastal areas that are at risk and how to manage this. There may be international evidence on the matter – what are the policy options?
    • Agriculture – policy areas and lands at risk – how best to address these?
    • Transport – road and rail infrastructure – how will these be managed?
    • Planning – residential areas at risk – some LAs seeking guidance at the moment. Differences in approach to one off properties vs communities at risk.
    • Environment – protected areas and Special Areas of Conservation.
  • The secretariat would formulate questions for issue to all stakeholders to give uniformity to the information sought.
  • The CCMA proposed that they involve their wider local authority network as source of information.
  • It will be important to consider the best ways to engage communities and gain their support for actions required. What supports can be offered and what obstacles may be in the way of what is hoped to be achieved?
  • Date for Next Meeting
  • Next meeting date proposed for 4 weeks’ time. A provisional date of Thursday 1st October was agreed pending confirmation with stakeholders who were not present at the initial meeting.

Inter-Departmental Group on National Coastal Change Management Strategy

Proposed meeting date: Friday 23rd April 2021

Draft Agenda

Meeting location: Webex

  1. Minutes of last meeting.

  2. Update from DHLGH/OPW following bilateral meetings.

  3. Update/feedback input from Departments/ local authority sector who engaged in bilateral meetings.
  4. Overview of coastal change challenges/ Update on work of the  Coastal Change Technical Group
  • Overview of international experience.

  • Proposed next steps and discussion on proposed structure and chapter headings for scoping report (draft chapter headings to be circulated)

  • AOB

  • Date for next meeting.

Meeting of Inter-Departmental Group on Coastal Change Management Strategy

Friday 23rd April 2021


Co-chairs: Maria Graham (DHLGH), John Sydenham (OPW)

In attendance: Ciaran Conroy OPW, Jim Casey OPW, Jackie Stewart OPW, Colin Ryan DHLGH, Laura Courtney DHLGH, Tom Woolley DHLGH, Ciarán Hyde LGMA, Joan Martin LGMA, David Mellet CAROs, Eoin Sherlock Met Éireann, Justina Corcoran D/ECC, Keith Kelly Taoiseach’s, Kevin Lynch SRA, Koen Verbruggen GSI, Maruice Harnett D/Transport, Garrett ‘O Rorke DPER, Paul Kilkenny DPER, Raphael Crowley D/Agriculture, Tony O’Sullivan D/Agriculture.

Apologies: Niall Ó Donnchú (DHLGH), Conor McCabe (DHLGH), Amy Mulligan (Taoiseach’s).

Secretariat: Niamh Hanrahan

  1. Minutes of last meeting were agreed.

  2. Recap on Bilateral Engagements
  3. Bilateral meetings were undertaken for a range of different reasons and allowed the Departments to identify what is needed from an organisational point of view, and to allow more detailed discussion on required actions going forward.
  4. Thanks was given to all those who have engaged so far.
  • Feedback from Bilaterals
  • It was agreed that these meetings were very useful for participating departments and allowed departments to examine their own relevant work more closely and bring to their attention to matters that might not have been recognised in the full context of coastal change.
  • In terms of local government engagement, there has been good engagement from the coastal counties and CAROs and there was universal welcome to a combined coastal change strategy. A key issue that has emerged is the need for a good and continued communication at a political (both local and national), technical/ administrative and community levels.
  • The Regional Assemblies indicated their willingness to assist as the process continues .  There has been much engagement with the LAs on CDPs and implementation of Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies. The Southern Regional Assembly will coordinate any combined input for the 3 Regional Authorities.

  • Update on Technical Group
  • Jim Casey presented to the group on: the projected impacts; responses needed; range of policy options; emerging issues; progress of work and findings of the technical working group to date together with a case study of the impacts on the coastal community at Portrane (slides shared with attendees for information).
  • The presentation also examined the projected climate changes and impacts on coastal communities associated with e.g. sea level rise, increased storm frequency and erosion.
  • The progress to date of the technical group relative to the terms of reference was outlined on presentation slides 8 to 15, inclusive and extracts are given below:
  • Coastal Change Initial Register of Datasets/Information completed and circulated to TWG for feedback. Feedback collated and updated Datasets/Information Register completed
  • National assessment of infrastructure and assets at risk from coastal change – tidal inundation completed for the Current, Mid-Range (+0.5m SLR) Future and High End (+1.0m SLR) Future Scenarios. Local authority administrative area breakdown (tabulated) also completed.
  • National coastal change – tidal inundation infrastructure/asset risk maps (for properties) completed for the Current, Mid-Range (+0.5m SLR) Future and High End (+1.0m SLR) Future Scenarios, with and without local authority administrative areas.
  • Research on estimating the projected impact of coastal erosion is currently being undertaken by the OPW as part of the National Scale Coastal Erosion Hazard Mapping project (due for completion in 2022).
  • Monitoring the impact of coastal change is currently being undertaken by the OPW under the Coastal Monitoring Survey Programme (CMSP) commenced in 2020 and is ongoing (5 sites included in 2020 and further 5 sites added in 2021).
  • Important baseline surveys which can be used for monitoring the impact of coastal change are currently being progressed by the OPW under the Coastal Aerial LiDAR Survey 2021 – South to West Coast of Ireland which will provide valuable baseline data against which to compare future coastal change.
  • A draft initial research register is to be prepared (by OPW) for circulation to the TWG and feedback sought from all stakeholders concerning existing and future required research. Review of additional research required to be completed following preparation of the research register.
  • Different methodologies of coastal monitoring/mapping are being piloted via the OPW with feedback expected early next year. GSI indicated that they are currently involved in coastal monitoring projects and willing to be involved at the appropriate stage.
  • It is recognised that there is considerable work on-going in coastal monitoring/ mapping and an emerging issue is the need to co-ordinate/ collate emerging information.
  • The technical group will convene before engaging further with LAs about the various elements.

  • International Experience – England and Wales
  • Jim Casey presented an overview of related coastal management strategies from other jurisdictions including from Wales and England(slides shared with group for information).
  • Both strategies consider the planning element and the common theme of resilience – thus the link to the planning side and avoidance of new and future development including strategically important development/the siting of those in these areas of coastal change.
  • A lot of work has been done on planning guidance relating to the Welsh and the UK strategies, it was agreed that lessons can be learned from this work. It was also agreed that other international strategies should be considered to allow for a more thorough understanding before drawing conclusions.
  • It was agreed that practitioners who are working on such matters would be consulted to gain their insight and discuss how are they find these strategies in practice, and what may be some of the issues/challenges in the face of climate change.
  • The “people” aspect will be important for consideration – the idea of personal responsibility and dealing with one’s own aspect of the situation. It will be important to ensure that the public understand the coastal change risks e.g. erosion and tidal inundation etc. The link to effective and considered ongoing communication was highlighted.
  • The role of nature based solutions was highlighted for instance the example of Plymouth/Earth Day, where sea grass seeding has been utilised to mitigate against wave conditions and stabilise the sea bed. For nature base solutions – it may be important to analyse how these would align with coastal habitat and designated area maps. This sort of information is analysed in marine planning and there could be a mutual benefit in looking at coastal change planning as well as marine planning.
  • In relation to development zoning, in coastal areas around the UK there are a large number of non-permanent residences e.g. holiday homes, caravans. This produces a new, relevant community that is separate from the local community. These sites will already be allocated and these new residents may require particular consideration during extreme weather events.
  • The international perspective, overall, will be very important to the work of this group. The work is currently at a scoping stage and conversations on these matters will be important in informing the next phase of work.

  • Next Steps/Proposed Report Chapter Structure
  • Recommendations from the group will consider the short/medium/long term.
  • The proposed structure of the report reflects the TOR of the group.
  • The report should examine how a managed-retreat response in Ireland can be implemented in practice. The expected response may be to hold the line, protect and defend but with sea-level rise into the future, this will not always be justifiable or sustainable.
  • Guidance for future development and how to prevent development of at-risk areas will also be important.
  • Communication with the public should be considered and building the capacity of people to respond themselves and to be more self-sufficient about responding to the risks associated with coastal change.
  • Investment and infrastructure – some approaches will be less expensive, but infrastructure has a cost so investment strategies will need to be carefully considered . Decisions will need to be made as to what the State may or may not fund.
  • Environmental issues will need to be factored into the thinking behind the report – IROPI legislation for example.
  • With the wide-ranging talk of climate change and climate action at the moment, it will be important to have a joined up approach in terms of communications and messaging so as not to over-saturate the public with information or to cause confusion. This will be a topic for the bilateral with D/ECC.

  • AOB
  • NPWS are currently planning to designate more areas around the coast as Special Areas of Conservation. It may therefore be valuable to arrange a bilateral with NPWS.
  • Marine Protected Areas legislation is also due to come through over the summer and these should be considered in the context of any further legislation.

  • Next meeting
  • 10th June 2021 for next meeting date and presentations from this meeting to be circulated shortly.

Inter-Departmental Group on

National Coastal Change Management Strategy

Meeting on 10 June 2021 at 14.30 by WEBEX


  1. Draft Minutes of meeting of 23 April, 2021 for agreement

  2. Presentation from Jacobs on Shoreline Management Plans and approach to Coastal Management in the UK – Key emerging issues and lessons for consideration

  3. Update on Bilateral meetings held since the last Group meeting- D/ECC

  4. Presentation from the Atlantic Seaboard South Region Climate Action  Regional Office (CARO) –  Current and future coastal erosion challenges and requirements for Local Authorities

  5. Next steps/actions

  6. AOB