Matt Carthy MEP raises flood concerns directly with Minister responsible
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that there is a lack of urgency in the Government's response to the flooding issue and that less bureaucracy and more input from local experts are urgently required.
Mr Carthy met with Minister Sean Canney last week, where he raised ongoing concerns of people across the midlands and west residents in relation to the flooding issue.
Matt Carthy said:
“The cost of flood damage across the State at the end of 2015 amounted to an estimated €100 million.
“Over 900 properties have suffered significant water damage, not to mention damage caused to farms, roads and bridges.
“The continuing inadequate Government response to this crisis is a matter of major public concern.
“I met Minister Sean Canney on 23rd November to discuss a range of flood related concerns. I thank the Minister for agreeing to meet me following my correspondence relating to issues in the East Galway region.
“The Government’s poor response to the flooding crisis has highlighted a number of worrying concerns including the fact that the previous Government's budget actually cut capital spending for the OPW's Flood Risk Management Programme in 2016 by €15.6 million, or 25%.
“A Strategic Planning for Flood Risk Management report has revealed that a steering group established to oversee a national programme for flood risk assessment did not meet during a four-year period before November 2014.
“It was also a full six years late in submitting required flood risk and flood hazard maps, as outlined by the EU Floods Directive.
“In 2014, it was estimated that €2bn would be needed in coming years to alleviate flooding hotspots.
“Some works have begun and some funds allocated but the length of time taken to bring projects to realization is a cause of huge frustration to local communities.
“Local Authorities have identified areas of flood risk but have not been given sufficient resources to manage. Areas in Sligo for example have not had any flood investment for over 40 years.
“The Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CRAMs) has gone to public consultation and it is vital that this be published immediately and the recommendations be implemented.
“Ultimately the Shannon River, given its vast geographical area, needs one managing authority with consolidated data. Sinn Féin has tabled a Dáil Bill to do this but the Government and the Minister remain opposed for reasons that are not sustainable.
“I raised the issue of Galway County Council recently raising road levels and the concern that this would exacerbate flooding by interfering with the flow of flood waters to the coast.
“During my meeting with Minister Canney I specifically raised the issue of the Coillte wind farm on Slieve Aughty.
“Trenches connected with this wind farm, which were dug into the mountainside, are impacting on the natural flow of water causing it to speed up, resulting in a huge rush of water into a growing body of water, and preventing it from the impact draining away quickly enough.
“The Minister was aware of the issues and Geological Survey Ireland (GSI) have been tasked with designing a solution.
“However, it is unclear how long this process will take and the sheer level of process bureaucracy involved is proving a major obstacle. Again this is entirely unacceptable and I made this point strongly to the Minister Canney.
“What is urgently required in relation to the whole flooding issue need is much less bureaucracy and more input from local experts.
"I will continue to push for action on the flooding crisis by the Government and will raise it at EU level at every opportunity."