Sunday 23 October 2016

Government 'to consider a levy on insurance'

Jane O'Faherty and Niall O'Connor

Published 11/01/2016 | 02:30

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin Photo: Mark Condren
Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin Photo: Mark Condren

A new insurance levy and the relocation of families whose homes are in flood-hit areas will have to be examined, Brendan Howlin has said.

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The Public Expenditure Minister revealed that a programme to move householders from places affected by intense flooding was being looked at by the Government in the wake of recent floods across Ireland.

It comes as Taoiseach Enda Kenny prepares to meet members of Ireland's insurance industry tomorrow.

Asked whether a hike in insurance levies for everyone and a relocation programme for 35,000 households were on the cards, Minister Howlin said Government "may be doing both of those things".

"I said when I did the capital plan last October that flooding and climate change would be a very big priority, and we have allocated half a billion euro for that," he said.

Minister Howlin was responding to reports that maintained 70,000 homes had been identified by the Office of Public Works (OPW) as being at risk of flooding.

However, the paper said at least 30,000 of those homes would not be covered under the Government's €430m flood defence plan.

Mr Howlin said Government has asked the OPW to examine 300 flood risk areas and look at the solutions needed, adding that he would allocate the money needed for the next six years.

He said the Government cannot spend the same amount of money protecting individual homes as it did on defending large areas from flooding: "In truth, you have 30,000 individual households that might not be covered by these schemes," he told RTÉ's 'The Week in Politics' yesterday.

"If we spend €35m, as we intend to start this year, on protecting, for example, a town like Enniscorthy, we can't spend €35m on every individual household."

"Very bad planning decisions were made in the past where people were allowed to build on flood plains and so on.

"And there is a relocation proposal being looked at. We may have to go that route as well."

Minister Howlin stressed that, because of climate change, there is "no country that can guarantee every single area that did not flood in the past will not flood."

Asked if a State Insurance Fund would be brought in for the victims of flooding, the minister said that there would be "nothing to insure" if flooding was a certainty in some areas.

Irish Independent

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