Monday 11 December 2017

Vulnerable town fears a repeat of recent history

Concern: Alan Byrne, of Navan Chamber of Commerce
Concern: Alan Byrne, of Navan Chamber of Commerce
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Navan in Co Meath is no stranger to flooding.

In December 2015, parts of the town including the Commons Road were hit, while in November 2009 firemen were forced to pump water from Academy Street throughout the night to keep waters at bay.

It's these homes on Academy Street that are among the most at risk in the town, says former mayor of Navan, Councillor Joe Reilly (SF).

"A row of houses are low-lying and used to flood, and water has come up to the drainage levels in gardens. The water in the Boyne has been up to the eyes of the old bridges.

"Certainly there is water coming up under the gardens of Academy Street, which were built back in the 1920s. An older population would live in that area."

Navan is among some 30 towns which may not get flood defence schemes because the cost of relief works is more than the cost of damages which would arise if nothing was done.

The Office of Public Works says at-risk properties could be protected by a series of flood embankments and walls, totalling almost 1km, and almost 1km of road in the town would need to be raised.

Read more: Shannon Airport at risk of being 'swept away' as State could face €3.2bn flood clean-up bill

This would protect some 104 properties, and 15 businesses. The works would cost €6.32m. The cost of the damages which would arise is €4.5m.

The main threat is the River Boyne, which topped its banks in August 2008, resulting in sewers being overwhelmed.

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

Problems also arose in 2002 and 2000, twice in the 1990s, once in the 1980s and three times in the 1960s.

The Navan Chamber of Commerce said that insurance rates had risen by 15pc this year, and that it was better to protect properties than force businesses to pay higher premiums.

"Business is generally pretty good," chamber president Alan Byrne said. "Proximity to Dublin has had an upside with population growth which feeds into the businesses.

"Every business in the location would have a hike in their insurance costs. This year, without any flooding, we're at a 15pc increase. So what would we have in a post-flooding year?

"There may be some consequences of this choice in spending to protect, or to repair after the damage is done. Insurance would be high on the agenda.

"If there's a policy of spend to repair, rather than prevent, people affected by flooding would have a direct hike in the insurance premium and the possibility of not getting insurance, which has the potential to put them out of business."

Irish Independent

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