Friday 23 March 2018

Shannon taskforce to propose new flood laws

Alan Kelly Photo: Tom Burke
Alan Kelly Photo: Tom Burke
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

The new Shannon taskforce will have the powers to propose new laws to Government aimed at making communities more resilient against the threat of floods.

The Coalition announced the establishment of the taskforce during the height of the flood crisis, which caused devastation for thousands of families and business people.

The body will be made up of a number of agencies including the ESB, Bord na Mona, Inland Fisheries and local authorities.

The terms of reference for the taskforce, which has been labelled a "talking shop" by the Opposition, are due to be published by Cabinet this week.

It is understood the taskforce will meet quarterly and will be accountable to the Oireachtas Environment Committee.

And Government sources last night confirmed that the taskforce will have the powers to recommend new legislation to Cabinet in areas such as flood defence.

"This will prove important to ensure that the taskforce can recommend a law change to Cabinet," said a government source.

"It will ensure that as the taskforce meets, they can say to government: 'this problem needs to be addressed with legislation'."

The taskforce will also oversee the roll-out of flood defence measures in areas highlighted by the Office of Public Works (OPW).

But the powers of the taskforce fall far short of the those proposed in the form of a new Shannon authority.

Meanwhile, the insurance industry is due to report back to the Government by the end of the week in relation to the issue of homes and businesses being unable to access cover.

Insurance industry bosses have been told by the Government to come up with proof that removable flood barriers installed with State funding have been ineffective.

A meeting between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the insurance industry last week heard insurers admit only 67pc of homes and businesses have access to insurance where demountable flood defences are in operation.

Where there are permanent flood defence works in place, 86pc of property owners get cover, the meeting was told.

Irish Independent

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