Claregalway families petition Europe over flood damage

As two Claregalway families bring a petition to the European Parliament over the lack of flood prevention in the area and compensation to help them with their financial burden following the flooding crisis of 2009, the Irish Insurance Federation has called on local authorities to stop the practise of granting planning permission on flood plain areas.

With the support of North West MEP Jim Higgins, a petition by two Claregalway families who suffered severe financial hardship due to the flooding of their homes was due to be brought before the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions hearing late yesterday afternoon.

The petition seeks to highlight the alleged failings of the previous government and the Galway County Council in relation to flood prevention and compensation for the destruction of homes in the Claregalway area. The two families had been forced to evacuate their homes and their properties which had been completely destroyed.

MEP Higgins said: “Galway County Council maintains it is not responsible for warning applicants of potential risks during the planning process. There is something inherently wrong when a local planning authority is not responsible for the planning permission it grants. These families have been extremely unfortunate due to forces beyond their control. On humanitarian grounds, they should be compensated,”

MEP Higgins added that insurance companies now refuse to cover the properties, greatly devaluing their potential sale, because there were no guarantees the Council would take measures to prevent and alleviate flooding at these properties.

Figures released by the IIF shows that due to the flooding in November 2009 insurers paid out a total of €244 million, with Galway, the second worst affected county after Cork, getting €23.3 million. IIF’s Michael Horan told the Advertiser that 637 claims were made in the Galway area, 471 of these were households and 166 were commercial. Mr Horan explained that as there are some areas where flooding is inevitable insurance companies may withdraw cover in order to keep premiums at an affordable level.

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