EU fund will only cover fraction of €500m bill for floods clean-up
Published 28/01/2010 | 05:00
THE clean-up bill for the devastating flooding that hit large parts of the country last November will reach €500m, the Irish Independent has learned.
But the European Union will only cover a tiny fraction -- €6m -- of the cost, even if it approves a Government request for aid.
Last night, the Department of Finance confirmed it had applied for funding to meet the costs from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), which helps member states rebuild after natural disasters.
A spokesman said the taxpayer will have spent €250m repairing infrastructure and paying for emergency operations during the deluge.
This figure is on top of the €244m which insurance companies say will be paid in claims. That figure dwarfs any previous payout by insurers. The bill does not include losses to farmers, including livestock, fodder and crop losses, and structural damage to property.
The Irish Insurance Federation (IIF) last night said it was still receiving claims to cover heavy rain damage, meaning the final bill is likely to exceed half a billion euro.
Counties Cork, Carlow, Galway, Clare, Offaly and Limerick were devastated by flood waters, last November, after weeks of sustained rainfall. In many weather stations, it was the wettest November since records began.
Cork city was swamped after the ESB released millions of gallons of water from the Inniscarra Dam to prevent it from breaching.
"Total estimated costs, arising from the flooding, are around €500m," the Department of Finance said last night.
"The EUSF does not fund full reconstruction but only emergency operations to allow a rapid return to normal living conditions. If we were to be successful, we would receive 2.5pc of the eligible expenditure, which amounts to €6m."
A spokesman said the application for aid was being made under a regional funding option, as national aid would only be approved if the clean-up bill across the country amounted to €935m.
Instead, the Government has made an funding application for Munster, as Cork, Clare and Limerick were badly affected, and Leinster, where Carlow and Offaly were hit.
"We are applying under the regional funding option, as the extent of the damage does not meet the commission threshold for a national disaster," he said. "There are very stringent criteria, including that the majority of the population of the region concerned must have been affected and there must be serious, lasting effects on the region's economic stability and living conditions."
Knock-on implications are that large parts of the country, at risk of flooding, could become uninsurable in the future because of soaring premiums.
Flood risk management plans are currently being drafted to identify the areas across the country most at risk.
The Office of Public Works has been criticised for its low spend on flood defence works in recent years. Just €38m will be spent this year -- and the 15 projects planned will cost €200m -- but it is unclear if funding will be made available.
A number of large flood-defence schemes are currently in planning, with construction works due to start on several -- Clonmel north and east, Mallow south and west, Ennis lower, and Fermoy south, east and west -- before the end of the year.
Other planned schemes in Bray and Arklow, Co Wicklow, Templemore, Co Tipperary, Raphoe, Co Donegal, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, and Waterford City are due to begin in 2011.