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Climate Change, Flooding & Coastal Zone Management

Climate change is a cross cutting theme in the County Development Plan. Climate change refers to a significant change in global or regional climate change patterns such as temperature, rainfall or wind. The term climate change is now generally associated with changes in our climate due to the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as a result of human activities.

‘Climate Action’ includes the two approaches necessary to tackle climate change – Mitigation and Adaptation. Mitigation refers to efforts that will reduce current and future greenhouse gas emissions including reductions in energy use, switching to renewable energy sources and carbon sinks. Climate adaptation consists of actions that will reduce the impacts that are already happening and those that are projected to happen in the future. These include flood protection, reduced impact of rising sea levels, increased resilience of infrastructure and emergency response planning.

In 2014, the Government adopted the National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development which establishes the national objective of achieving transition to a competitive low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050. The NPF identifies planning as an established means to implement and integrate climate change objectives at local level and recognises that in order to meet this national target, it will be necessary to make choices about how we balance growth with more sustainable approaches to development and land use. Wicklow County Council under the guidance of the Climate Action Regional Office (CARO) have in 2019 adopted a Climate Adaptation Strategy for County Wicklow which is a response to the impacts that climate change is having and will continue to have on the County. The most immediate risks to Wicklow are those which are due to changes in extremes such as floods, precipitation, storms and higher sea levels.

In terms of climate change and land use planning the County Development Plan plays an important role in influencing a reduction in GHG emissions by guiding the sustainable growth of the County, encouraging more compact mixed-use development and greater use of sustainable transport options such as cycling, walking and public transport, restricting development in areas that are at risk of flooding and protecting the natural landscape and biodiversity. The current County Development includes a Climate Change Audit which outlines how the plan has integrated climate change mitigation and adaptation into its policies and objectives.

Flood Risk

A Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) will be prepared as part of the new development plan. The purpose of the SFRA is to assess all types of flood risk within the County so as to inform landuse planning decisions in the development plan. The objective is to avoid inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding and avoid new development increasing flood risk elsewhere. The Development Plan must include robust flood risk policies.


Coastal Zone Management

Wicklow’s coastline stretches for over 60km along the Irish Sea from Bray to Kilmichael, south of Arklow. The coastal areas of County Wicklow are amongst the most sensitive and valuable resources in the County, in terms of natural heritage, scenic beauty and recreation and tourism. Many of the County’s settlements have developed along or near the coast.  The current development plan identifies a range of objectives to protect the coastline and mange development. Since the adoption of the current development plan in 2016, the Glen Beach Cliff Walk on the outskirts of Wicklow town has been reopened.

What do you think?

  • How do you think the County Development Plan can address climate change?
  • Are you aware of any areas that are liable to flooding that should be identified in the SFRA?
  • How should the Council manage pressure for development in flood risk areas?
  • Are the policies in the current development plan adequate to protect Wicklow’s coastline?
  • What type of developments should be allowed along the coastline outside of settlements?
  • Are there any areas of coastline in need of protection in terms of conservation or physical defences?