Coastal damage aid for public works only

Committee worried about harbours and piers in public use, but not public ownership

An €8.8 million Government fund for repairs to piers and harbours hit by storms is intended for infrastructure in public ownership, an Oireachtas hearing on flood damage was told yesterday.

Many of the smaller harbours and piers in the west, particularly in Co Galway, while publicly used, are legally in private ownership having not been officially "taken in charge" by local authorities or other State bodies.

The Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture and the Marine was told some smaller piers in the west were located on unregistered land, former land commission sites, land designated as belonging to the former congested districts board and others.

Committee chairman Andrew Doyle said there was confusion about the €70 million fund announced by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan. He said €16 million had been designated for roads; €20 million for the restitution of coastal protection works; €26 million for local amenities including tourist amenities and community infrastructure, piers and harbours; and €8.8 million for harbour infrastructure such as roads and slipways and piers which had been washed away.

Assistant secretary general at the Department of Agriculture Dr Cecil Beamish said the €8.8 million was to be spread across nine counties. The priority was for repair works for infrastructure known to be in public ownership. There were other schemes from other arms of government and it was the intention every need would be "touched" by a scheme.