New guidelines aimed at eliminating flood risks have been issued to local authorities and An Bord Pleanala by Minister for the Environment John Gormley.
The rules issued to planning authorities follow a week of unprecedented flooding and damage to homes and businesses in parts of Cork, Galway and the midlands.
Under the guidelines, development will only be permitted in areas at high or moderate risk of flooding in “exceptional circumstances”.
Development will have to be avoided in areas at risk of flooding, particularly in floodplains, unless there are “demonstrable, wider sustainability grounds that justify appropriate development and where the flood risk can be reduced or managed to an acceptable level without increasing flood risk elsewhere”.
Mr Gormley and Minister of State Martin Mansergh said the guidelines were aimed at ensuring a “more consistent, rigorous and systematic approach to the avoidance and minimisation of potential future flood risk”.
The ministers said they were a “comprehensive statement of good planning practice and that they also acted as “a key step towards adapting to the inevitable impacts of climate change”.
Mr Gormley said the system had to “adapt to the realities of climate change impacts”.
The guidelines would ensure “we begin proofing ourselves now from future exposure to the impacts of flooding by fully integrating the consideration of flood risk into the planning process”.
He said they provided for best practice and a sound basis on which planners and developers could “ensure flood risk is taken fully into account throughout the planning process and properly managed thereafter”.
The guidelines were issued in draft form for public consultation late last year.
They were prepared in response to the recommendations of the National Flood Policy Review Group.