Drainage programme to prevent new floods

Patrick O'DonovabTHE “unprecedented weather” of recent weeks raises the need for a national programme of drainage work to prevent further flood damage, according to Limerick Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan.

Speaking in the Dáil last week, he raised the question of whether land drainage was a major factor in the floods and cited the example of flooding in Limerick in 2008 when communities and local authorities were left powerless to deal with issues that confronted them including the removal of gravel and other debris from rivers and streams.

The West Limerick TD said it was clear that there were too many competing agencies involved in the maintenance of rivers and streams.

“The protection of habitats were viewed in some cases as being more important than the protection of houses and individuals and this needs to be addressed,” he said.

“The new Rural Development Programme gives an opportunity for this issue to be addressed and consideration should be given to the introduction of a scheme that would incentivise landowners and local communities to carry out remedial works in a manner similar to the Rural Environment Protection Scheme and Agri-Environment Options Scheme.

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It is clear that given the budgetary constraints, it is unlikely that the State will be able to maintain every river and stream and that is why new approaches were needed,” he said.

Minister Fergus O’Dowd gave Deputy O’Donovan a commitment that the issues he raised would be considered by the relevant departments and agencies.