The Environmental Pillar has published a series of 20 measures, which, it says, if implemented, could help prevent the worst effects of flooding.
As communities around Ireland continue to deal with the aftermath of this winter's devastating floods, the Environmental Pillar is calling for immediate measures to be taken to protect communities now and into the future.
Key to the proposals are measures such as developing wetlands, native forestry and rewetting bogs to slow down water in river catchments.
The Environmental Pillar also proposes ending poor planning by making public representatives and officials take responsibility for their decisions, developing river catchment agencies and adopting long-term plans, which account for the impact of climate change.
The Environmental Pillar said the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) programme that is currently being carried out by the OPW is a positive development. It addded that it was looking forward to the implementation of its recommendations in a way that benefits and protects communities and their natural environment into the future.
Donna Mullen, spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar, said: “This winter we have seen such heart-breaking scenes where homes and livelihoods have been devastated by flooding.
“Six years ago, we released a policy document almost identical to the one released today and in that time few, if any, of our recommendations were acted upon. It is galling to see the human cost of this inaction.
“Examples in other countries show us that using soft measures – such as native woodlands, hedgerows, wetlands and bogs – to slow down water in areas away from homes can be an effective and relatively cheap way of dealing with flooding in rural areas.”
She added: “Of course hard engineering solutions will be needed in our towns and cities but we need to start dealing with the problem as far up the catchment as we can.”
Donna said a disjointed approach to development in catchment areas over many years has been one of the major contributing factors to the current problem. “We need to stop this kind of decision-making and when poor decisions happen we need to highlight them.
“Also key is planning for the future. Scientists in Ireland and overseas have been telling us for years that high rainfall events in Ireland will increase because of climate change. We need to make sure the plans we make are for the weather we will experience in 50 or 100 years and not just at the levels we have just experienced. We need to be planning for one in 1,000 year events just as they do in the Netherlands.”