13 OCTOBER 2016
ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has said government must immediately start spending money on dredging the river Shannon. Speaking following a meeting today with Minister Sean Canney Mr Sherlock said “Environmental objections cannot be allowed take precedence and destroy the livelihoods of farming communities”.
“ICSA has today implored upon Minister Canney the importance of managing the weirs along the Shannon and also the power station at Ardnacrusha to keep Shannon levels right. It is unacceptable that the livelihoods of farmers are in the hands of the ESB. It is also essential that weirs are managed proactively with a view to keeping water levels right to minimise flooding risk.”
The ICSA delegation, which included Roscommon ICSA chairman Ger Grehan, Westmeath chairman Dan Lynam and general secretary Eddie Punch strongly underlined the need for investment in action rather than reports at this point. They welcomed the commitment of the Minister to getting solutions to the problems and the overall Government commitment to spending up to €430 million on the flooding issue.
Ger Grehan argued for a single authority to manage the Shannon. “The process of getting work agreed and done is being paralysed by committees and too many objectors. We simply have to get moving and this not going to happen without an authority to call the shots.”
The meeting also discussed the possibility of relocation in some cases. While ICSA accepts that some houses and sheds are built in vulnerable zones, ICSA argued that some of this is a consequence of the traditional approach by planning authorities to put houses into the lowest hole around. “We have seen houses vulnerable to flooding yet higher ground was readily available on adjacent land. This has sometimes been because of an over obsession with visual impact.”
Ger Grehan and Dan Lynam raised specific issues around the farms hit most severely by flooding last winter in counties Roscommon, Leitrim, Longford and Westmeath and ICSA intends meeting local authorities in the coming weeks on some of these issues.