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Tuesday 24 April 2018

Children of flood-affected farmers to get planning exemptions

Ferrying neighbours through the floods at Mukanagh, Athlone in 2015. Picture: Fergal Phillips
Ferrying neighbours through the floods at Mukanagh, Athlone in 2015. Picture: Fergal Phillips
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The children of farmers whose land is affected by flooding could soon have access to special planning exemptions under new proposals.

Minister of State for OPW and Flood Relief, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran revealed the plans at the commencement of preliminary works by OPW staff on the flood relief works at The Quay, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

The Minister told local reporters that there are many people particularly farmers who have land in flood plains and said “they cant give a bit of land to their son or daughter”.

“I’m looking at ways through the local authorities, through the Department of Planning and through Minister Damian English that will allow those people if they want to build a house 10 or 15 miles away that local needs do not come into play.

“Yes, we would wave the planning fees but they would be paying their Development Levies."

The Minister described the progress of the plans as “nearly there”.

Homes may have to be abandoned and swathes of agricultural land given over to water storage to help prevent catastrophic flood damage. Photo: PA
Homes may have to be abandoned and swathes of agricultural land given over to water storage to help prevent catastrophic flood damage. Photo: PA

Late last year, a study to determine the feasibility of any future once-off targeted scheme for Voluntary Farm Building Relocation has been commenced.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is using its own records of applicants who sought aid under the emergency relief package, that operated in response to the flooding during the Winter of 2015/2016, to identify potential candidates for any Voluntary Farm Building Relocation scheme.

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In addition, that Department will use details supplied by the OPW, from applicants to the Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme, to identify further potential applicants.

That Department will then contact and work with these individual farmers to determine if there are any alternative remedial works to protect those farmyard buildings at risk and develop recommendations in relation to the feasibility of a scheme.

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