Government accused of 'stonewalling' county council to create flood risk plans for east Galway

Demands for ministers to allow OPW officials address councillors on flood risks

Kiltartan Church during the 2009 floods. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

Kiltartan Church during the 2009 floods. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

The Government has been accused of "stonewalling" efforts to create a flood risk plan for the Headford, Ballinasloe, and Portumna regions, by refusing to allow the Office of Public Works advise the Galway County Council on measures needed to be taken.

This is the view of Galway East Fianna Fáil Election 2016 candidate, Cllr Anne Rabbitte, who said that despite repeated requests for an OPW official to attend a Galway County Council meeting, and advise councillors and officials on the best way to progress this issue, the Department of the Environment has "so far refused to accommodate these requests".

As a result of what Cllr Rabbitte alleges to be "stonewalling of the process", the county council is being forced to work from draft maps and is unable to put together a concrete flood risk plan. The Portumna based councillor added that this is causing the council to be "over-cautious in its estimations of houses at risk of flooding", leading to the inclusion of houses not affected by the 2009 floods.

"Not one house in Portumna flooded in 2009, yet now maps show 117 at risk," she said. "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."

However, areas that were badly affected in 2009 remain at risk, and Cllr Rabbitte has described the entire situation as "shameful". She is now calling on the Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly, and the Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, Simon Harris, "to step up to the mark and take charge of the situation" by providing maps to allow the council can draw up "a credible flood risk plan, and for them to assist in the process to ensure workable solutions can be put in place for businesses and homes that fall within flood risk areas".

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