Government to spend €430m on major flood defences over next six years
The Government defended its investment in flood defences by warning that vulnerable towns like Clonmel, Fermoy and Mallow have been successfully protected.
Office of Public Works (OPW) Minister Simon Harris and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney pointed out that the Government plans to spend €430m on flood defences by 2021.
The Government is already committed to the biggest flood protection scheme in Irish history, a €60m plan to protect Cork city from tidal surges.
Long-delayed flood defence schemes in Bandon and Skibbereen in west Cork are now going to tender and should be completed by 2018. Major schemes are also underway for Dublin and Kilkenny.
Millions of euros in flood damage was sustained last weekend in Bandon, Crossmolina in Co Mayo and Lifford in Co Donegal as Storm Desmond raged. The damage was inflicted as experts warned that such severe Atlantic storms could occur on a more regular basis.
The Clonmel flood relief scheme has been hailed as a major success with the Tipperary town avoiding flooding last weekend despite heavier rainfall across the River Suir catchment area than in 2000, 2004, 2007 and 2008 when major floods occurred.
Two of Ireland's most flood-prone towns, Mallow and Fermoy on the River Blackwater, also both avoided flooding last weekend with their flood defences fully deployed.
The three schemes cost almost €100m and involved the construction of special flood protection walls, major embankments, flood gates and storm sewers.
Two years ago, former OPW Minister Brian Hayes publicly warned that Ireland had to "dramatically ramp-up" spending on flood defences given the increased threat posed by super-storms and global warming.
Mr Coveney pointed out that Ireland is now investing the greatest amount ever in flood defences - with previous OPW schemes demonstrating vulnerable towns can be protected.
"Simon (Harris) and this Government are delivering for Bandon and other Irish towns and cities," he said.
"A major flood relief programme will be up and running for Bandon within months."
"The OPW now has a ten-year programme in place to spend a very significant amount of money on flood relief."
"The biggest project ever managed by OPW will be happening in Cork city and they will be spending the guts of €60m."
"The programmes that have been put together in towns like Clonmel, Fermoy and Mallow have been hugely successful. Those towns are not getting flooded now even though we had huge volumes of water falling over recent days.
"But we need to replicate that now as quickly as we can in places like Bandon, Skibbereen and other vulnerable towns nationwide." Clonmel's scheme cost €40m.