Friday 18 August 2017

Locals in Dingle fear walls will harm tourism

Kevin Flannery and Grace McGratten showing the height of the proposed flood protection harbour wall opposite Dingle Oceanworld in County Kerry which will take away some of the scenic view of the harbour. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Kevin Flannery and Grace McGratten showing the height of the proposed flood protection harbour wall opposite Dingle Oceanworld in County Kerry which will take away some of the scenic view of the harbour. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Dingle may be revelling in tourism earnings from its 'Star Wars' connections, but ongoing flooding issues are threatening the Kerry coastal community, with potential damages of up to €8.5m to homes, businesses and essential infrastructure.

A €4.2m project scheme is proposed to combat the threat from both coastal tidal surges and the Dingle and Milltown rivers, which would protect 131 properties.

However, some locals are a little bemused by the plans, and are concerned over their visual impact on an area renowned for its beauty and reliant on tourism earnings.

"The last time I can remember bad flooding here in the town was in 2005," Dingle publican Fergus O'Flaherty explained.

"Kerry County Council did some works up around the Conor Pass, and that has helped a huge amount. There hasn't been any really bad flooding here for years."

But Dingle and west Kerry have been badly hit twice in recent years. In 1988, floods were caused by a combination of a tidal surge and torrential rainfall. In 2005, a similar combination resulted in widespread flooding, which left many Dingle premises under flood waters, including O'Flaherty's pub and properties along Bridge Street, Hudson's Bridge, The Mall and Dykegate Street.

Read more - Paul Melia: Storms will only get worse - and we may have to abandon parts of country

Locals, including farmer Francie Dorgan, admitted they had never experienced rainfall like it before.

To protect the town, the OPW is considering a special flood water storage area on the Dingle Stream above the town, as well as enhancements to both sea walls and embankments.

The concern is that such works might have an adverse visual impact on a town renowned for its tourist industry. Dingle Oceanworld aquarium director Kevin Flannery said it was important that the town's visual assets be preserved, given the role that tourism played in the local economy.

Flood Defence Works Interactive Map

This tool sets out the cost of installing flood defences, the damages which might arise and number of properties under threat, in the most at-risk areas across the State.

It is based on data from the draft Flood Risk Management Plans, produced by the Office of Public Works (OPW), following extensive surveys of 90 coastal communities, and more than 6,500kms of river channel.

The country is divided into 29 Units of Management (UoMs), which are areas covered by a single river basin or covered by a group of smaller rivers. Given its size, works required along the Shannon are set out in three UoM.

Clicking on the icons show the works required in each area.

The urban area is highlighted at the top, and the UoM beneath. The cost of proposed works is set out in €m. The ‘damage uncapped’ figure relates to the total cost of damages to properties and infrastructure which would arise if nothing was done.

The ‘damage’ figure is based on the value of the properties at risk. This figure is used to determine if a scheme should go ahead – if the cost of the damage is less than the cost of providing defences, the scheme may not go ahead. This is the cost-benefit ratio. If it’s less than one, the scheme doesn’t make financial sense.

The final figure is the number of properties protected.

Some icons contain less information. For example, Tullig in Kerry is part of the Castleisland flood defence scheme so no information is contained. The OPW has also identified other areas as being at low risk, or says the existing flood defence regime should be maintained. In other cases it notes the need for a forecasting system, or says if a scheme is underway.

Further information is at http://maps.opw.ie/floodplans/


Irish Independent

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