Flooding in areas along the Shannon is a worrying threat to rural people, and as winter draws closer, concern is increasing. The ICSA’s rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has spoken out on the issue, claiming that one single authority in charge of the Shannon would be more effective than our current system of control.
He also said that immediate action must be taken to dredge the River Shannon. He said that the government must ‘immediately start spending money on dredging’ the river, as ‘environmental objections cannot be allowed take precedence and destroy the livelihoods of farming communities’.
There are currently some obstacles in place that prevent any solid and united actions to prevent flooding. The presence of too many fragmented committees is one major threat to efficiency, according to Roscommon ICSA chairman Ger Grehan:
“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.”
During a meeting with Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, ICSA’s Seamus Sherlock criticised the power that the ESB has in relation to the river’s surrounding areas:
“[The ICSA] 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 team did however praise the Minister’s commitment to the problem, and they cited the government’s pledged €430 million to the flooding issue as a positive point.
The potential solution of relocation was discussed at the meeting with Minister Canney. The ICSA says that houses built in vulnerable zones are usually only there as a result of ‘traditional’ approaches by planning authorities:
“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,” explained the ICSA.