The floods that ravaged Athlone in 2009 were considered a “once in a lifetime” event but Westmeath County Council have marked an area extending beyond the boundary of this flood in their maps detailing areas at risk of flooding in the Athlone Town Development Plan.
At Wednesday’s (September 18 ) development plan meeting Cllr Aengus O’Rourke (FF ) expressed surprise at the map, stating the area “goes way beyond the 2009 flood.”
“This has negative implications and I would be proposing to pull back the area to the flood events of 2009, which were described as a once in a generation experience.”
County manager Barry Kehoe told Athlone Town Council that it was practically impossible to draw back on the line drawn for the area considered at risk of flooding and that they had extended by 20 per cent on the 2009 area.
“The next flood could be bigger,” he stated simply.
“We will have more when the flood risk assessment of the Shannon draft maps are available in 2014. The area designated in the plan is drawn up on the best information we have on flood plains.
“It doesn’t mean that the area will not be developed. The risk of flooding just means they will have to do a flood risk analysis that will be site specific,” he said.
Speaking about the Golden Island area Mr Keheo said it is zoned for mixed use development.
“If detailed flood risk assessments are carried out and the application is compatible with guidelines they should get planning permission. The risk of flooding does not preclude development, the land is all zoned,” concluded the county manager.
The maps will be modified as information comes in from other reports such as the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Mr Kehoe reassured Athlone Town Council.