Funding of €9m for four flood-relief schemes in Co Leitrim
Lough Allen to be lowered for the third winter in a row to help prevent downstream flooding
Kevin “Boxer” Moran: he said the €9m funds for Co Leitrim would come from a previously-announced €1bn investment in flood-risk measures
A total of €9 million is to be spent on four flood-relief schemes in Co Leitrim in a bid to protect Carrick-on-Shannon, Mohill, Drumod and Leitrim village, all of which have flooded twice in the last decade.
The funding was announced by Minister of State at the Office of Public Works Kevin “Boxer” Moran when he met members of Leitrim County Council on Monday.
Mr Moran said the funds would come from a previously-announced €1billion investment in flood-risk measures over the coming decade.
Leitrim County Council is to now seek consultants reports on how best to protect the towns, which were extensively damaged by floods in 2009 and again in 2015.
Mr Moran refused to confirm reports that a 1,600m defence consisting of walls and earthen banks was being considered for Carrick-on-Shannon, saying this was an issue for the consultants.
Flood-relief campaigners in Carrick-on-Shannon gave a guarded welcome to the news. Liam Farrell, chairman of the Carrick-on-Shannon Flood Action Group (CFAG), expressed disappointment that priority has not been given to “basic measures” such as making the weir at Jamestown operational and clearing obstacles in the river.
John Dunne, a member of CFAG, said the focus appeared to be on flood defences which might work in some areas and not in others. “We are all about conveyance of water, getting it away quickly. I don’t think there is an appetite for walls in Carrick”.
He said he would like to see more emphasis on dredging and alleviating the pinch points on the river so that the duration of severe flooding would be reduced. “Obviously we are pleased that something is being done, and we welcome the fact that funding is being made available.”
Mr Farrell also welcomed the fact that the issue was being addressed by Government, but said there should be more focus on the “simple stuff” .
“The Minister’s plans seems to be all about walls and defences. I know they have worked in some towns but the plan seems to be for 1,800 meters of walls in Carrick alone, which is a mile, and people are concerned about that. We believe that priority should be given to the basic stuff like the pinch points where trees are in the river. “
He said the group were anxious to know more details of the plan. “The devil is in the detail, and we would like to know more details.”
Mr Moran said good progress has been made to date between the OPW and local authorities in progressing flood defence schemes in the Shannon catchment. A working group made up of representatives of many agencies with responsibility for parts of the Shannon was working well.
Mr Moran said the group had overseen “targeted maintenance” involving the removal of silt, vegetation and trees in a number of locations, and consultants would be appointed to examine the removal of the “pinch points”, resulting in lower summer water levels through the Shannon Callows. Consultants would also be appointed for a study on the cause, degree and rate of restriction downstream of Parteen Weir.
Asked on RTÉ’s lunchtime news if he was going ahead with the removal of seven pinch points, Mr Moran said there were “16 pinch points between Athlone and Meelick Lock, which were being dealt with”.
Mr Moran also said this winter would again see the lowering of water levels in Lough Allen for the third year in a row in a bid to alleviate any significant flooding event that may occur.
The working group is also completing an environmental assessment to help inform any decision to target a permanent reduction in lake levels.
Already this year boating interests on Lough Ree have complained of reduced levels making navigation hazardous. A number of groundings have been reported due to lower than expected levels.
However, Pat McManus, a member of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland and Athlone Sub Aqua Club who is working on a new charting project for Lough Ree, said the lower water levels were not yet significant.