Storm Desmond to cost State millions, says Alan Kelly

Local authorities to get €8 million initially towards the clean-up of damaged areas

Flooding along the banks of the Shannon River near Athlone Town. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Flooding along the banks of the Shannon River near Athlone Town. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has warned that the aftermath of Storm Desmond will cost the State millions of euro.

Local authorities will receive €8 million initially from the department to assist in the clean-up of affected areas.

Mr Kelly said the Government was determined to help councils in every way it could but the final cost could not be known at this stage.

“We are having continuous assessment and continuous engagement with local authorities and, following on from this, once there is space we will total up the requirements over a number of areas,” he said.

Mr Kelly said the main cost would be to fund the repair of roads and sewers destroyed or damaged by Storm Desmond.

“Roads are by far and away the largest issue. Road infrastructure has been hit particularly in the mid-west in Tipperary, Limerick and Clare.

“I wouldn’t like to underestimate this. There is a considerable amount of roads under water at present so to be able to estimate the cost would be just picking a figure but there will be substantial costs in the region of millions.”

Cost assessment

Eight councils asked for €6.2 million in total, and €8 million was allocated to cover overtime for workers, contractors and plant hire.

The Minister said everything the local authorities have asked for they received and that would continue to be the case. “Obviously, we are going to have to assess when this is all over the cost and, when we get a number on that, the Government will have to address this.”

The Minister said the Department of the Environment will continue to work with the authorities to assess the costs arising from the flooding.

Frontline assistance

“It is important that local authorities, who operate on the front line and are forced to mobilise when emergencies like this take place, are supported to undertake these unprogrammed works.

“Without this support, the capacity to undertake further necessary works simply does not exist.”

The Government has allocated €5 million through the Irish Red Cross to assist businesses and the Department of Social Protection is also distributing €10 million to householders.

Mr Kelly said he supported the work of an interdepartmental group examining the issue of flood insurance.

He said engagement with the industry was essential and any changes agreed must change the thinking of the firms involved.

The Minister said the idea that there are large parts of the country at risk of flooding but unable to access insurance is not acceptable.

The possibility of an additional levy or taxation must be considered carefully, the Minister added.