Insurance firms 'blacking' townlands over flooding risk, committee told


Insurance companies are “blacking” entire townlands as flood plain risks, in some cases making it impossible for rural dwellers to get insurance even if their homes have never flooded, it was claimed yesterday.

James Doyle, chairman of the Irish Rural Dwellers Association, also said rural home households were at a disadvantage when money for flood protection measures was being allocated.

Addressing the Oireachtas committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Mr Doyle said he knew of cases where insurance companies “blacked an entire townland” because of flooding in one part of it. This had led to examples of hillsides being considered as part of flood plains, he said.

Mr Doyle said a study needed to be done to quantify the scale of the problem of individual properties affected by flooding, and the consequent problem of finding insurance.

Local decision-making urged

He claimed capital spending for flood protection works currently went only to protect urban homes, while those living in “individual” houses were expected to fend for themselves.

Mr Doyle said there needed to be a new way of making “big decisions” that affect rural people. He said decisions on what environmental works were allowed were taken by the EU. Such decisions were often academic in nature and devoid of local knowledge, he said. A new forum would have to be found that involves rural people in the decision making process, he said.

The committee also heard criticism of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley described as “the Taliban”. He said the restrictions imposed by the service on what riparian works could be carried out had led to flooding of rivers and the drowning of the corncrake. A similar fate could befall humans who dwell in riverside locations, he predicted.