Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Galway East Councillor Anne Rabbitte has accused the Government of trying to conceal flood risk levels for residents in Headford, Ballinasloe and Portumna, despite repeated requests for the Office of Public Works to clarify the issue. Cllr. Rabbitte says the Council is being forced to work off draft maps and is unable to put together a concrete flood risk plan.
The Portumna based Councillor commented, “Despite repeated requests for an official from the Office of Public Works to attend a Council meeting and advise councillors on the best way forward, the Department has so far refused to accommodate these requests. As a result of this lack of co-operation the council has been left in the dark as to how to proceed with an effective flood plan. I am extremely concerned that homes in Galway are at risk of flooding, but the Council is unable to put a proper plan in place because the OPW has failed to provide concrete maps. The OPW is also refusing to put forward any solutions to deal with the issue.
“This is causing the council to be over-cautious in their estimations of houses at risk of flooding- bringing in houses from the fringes that were not affected by flooding in 2009. Not one house in Portumna flooded in 2009, yet now maps show 117 at risk. This will have a major impact on the owners of these homes with regard to insurance costs and resale opportunities but the OPW or the Department of the Environment are refusing to co-operate with the Council on this.
“How can a council be expected to draft a flood risk plan with maps that are not approved by the appropriate Department? This is a ludicrous situation and Ministers Simon Harris and Alan Kelly are nowhere to be seen. We are trying to put forward a credible flood risk plan for residents and businesses in East Galway but it appears as if the OPW and the Department of the Environment are determined to stonewall the process. This makes it almost impossible to put measures in place to or prevent or limit flood damage in the future.
“This part of the county was badly flooded back in 2009 and since then no work has been undertaken to prevent this from happening again. Added to this are concerns about the location of the water treatment plant and the sewerage treatment plant, which according to the current maps are likely to flood, posing a serious health risk. The failure of the OPW to engage with Galway County Council is shameful considering the risks that are posed.
“Ministers Harris and Kelly need to step up to the mark and take charge of the situation. I am calling on them to provide concrete maps so that the Council can draw up a credible flood risk plan, and for them to assist in the process to ensure that workable solutions can be put in place for the businesses and homes that fall within flood risk areas. The constant delays over the past number of years have resulted in East Galway having no proper flood risk plan. This is completely unsustainable and must be addressed urgently”.