The announcement of a relocation scheme for homeowners affected by last year’s severe flooding has been welcomed locally.
Minister for the OPW and Flood Relief, Sean Canney, announced a €2 million once-off targeted Voluntary Homeowner Relocation Scheme this week.
Local Independent councillor Michael O’Brien was delighted to see the scheme come to fruition, in the wake of the severe flooding of winter 2015/16.
“During the terrible floods of 2015 I met with homeowners in affected areas who expressed a wish for such a scheme. There are those who would like to move and those who wouldn’t, and both wishes should be appreciated. A relocation programme is just one piece of the jigsaw in terms of tackling flooding, but I would urge homeowners in these areas to consider it,” he said.
The once-off targeted scheme is aimed at those whose primary residential properties flooded during last winter and has flooded in previous years, to ensure those homeowners worst affected have a primary residence.
Work to identify the homeowners will be carried out jointly by the OPW, local authorities, and the Department of Social Protection and it is hoped initial contact will be made with a small number of targeted homeowners towards the end of this year.
Deputy Denis Naughten (Ind ) said the scheme would “ensure that the worst affected homeowners will be relocated to a new property without the risk of flooding”, and that it should operate along the same lines as the one which operated in 2009.
Deputy Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran (Ind ) said it is important that the Government investment is targeted at those homeowners at greatest risk of future flooding, who would gain greatest benefit from State support to relocate.
The Department of Agriculture and the OPW, along with local authorities, are also examining, on a case-by-case basis, whether any alternative remedial works can be undertaken to protect at-risk farm buildings that flooded last winter, and which may be able to avail of any future targeted schemes for Voluntary Farm Building Relocation.
Deputy Moran said the Government is also continuing to seek improvements in the availability of flood insurance cover, which has resulted in an increase in the availability of flood insurance in areas where flood defences have been installed, both fixed and demountable.
Recent surveys revealed that 83 per cent of home insurance policies in protected areas include cover against flood risk, and where the defences are permanent in nature the percentage is 89.
He said progress is also being made with regard to flood measures such as a trial lowering of lake levels in Lough Allen, and consideration of the removal of pinchpoints and dredging of the Shannon.