Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Environment Barry Cowen TD has highlighted a significant Government underspend on flood relief schemes in 2015. This is despite growing prevalence of flooding in towns and villages across Ireland, coupled with research highlighting that significant investment is needed for flood defence schemes to help protect communities.
Deputy Cowen made the comments after Fianna Fáil received information which shows that there is an underspend of €14.5m on flood relief schemes so far this year.
“In recent days we have seen extensive flooding in parts of Ireland which is causing untold disruption and hardship for communities. Many of these areas have been flooded on numerous occasions over the last four years, yet despite this they are yet to see any meaningful progress on the implementation of vital flood defence schemes,” said Deputy Cowen.
“The Government has been quick to run for cover over the failure to implement these flood defence schemes. It has been suggested that a lack of funding is making it difficult to implement the flood defence schemes in a quick and timely manner. However information that my colleague Michael McGrath TD received in the Dáil from Minister for the OPW Simon Harris shows that there has been a significant underspend on flood defence schemes.
“Minister Simon Harris has confirmed that the underspend in 2015 is projected to be €14.5 Million, which could increase by the end of the year. This is money that should have been spent already and which should now be spent without delay on protecting communities from the increased risk of funding. We have known for years that flooding is one of the major threats facing towns and villages and its simply inexcusable to see this money go unspent.
“To make matters worse there was also a significant underspend in 2014. The Government simply is not serious in its approach to dealing with the threat posed by flooding. Ministers Alan Kelly and Simon Harris have committed to kick-starting certain flood defence schemes next year, but this is too little too late for the communities already affected by flooding this year.
“There is a significant risk of flooding in the days and weeks ahead. The Government needs to put in place short term measures to protect homes and businesses and to help affected people get back on their feet. However it’s time for Ministers Kelly and Harris to get their act together and get flood defence schemes up and running without any further unnecessary delays,” said Deputy Cowen