Saturday 24 August 2019

Erosion crisis is raised in the Dáil

The Burrow, Portrane on a cliff edge due to coastal erosion
The Burrow, Portrane on a cliff edge due to coastal erosion

Ken Phelan

Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Fingal, Darragh O'Brien, has said the Government is 'failing to recognise' the realities of coastal erosion as homes in Portrane and Rush in North County Dublin remain under threat.

The Government, he said, have been 'completely hands-off' when it came to addressing the problem, and noted that in his own constituency, one home had already been lost to coastal erosion.

It was 'only a matter of time', he said, 'before we lose more.'

Deputy O'Brien said: 'I have raised this urgent problem with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and sought an update as to where the multi-department National Coastal Erosion Strategy and Plan is at. His response will leave no coastal home owner with comfort.

'As far as I can see there is no plan or strategy. It appears the Government are throwing small sums of money and firefighting the problem as local authorities report issues with coastal erosion.'

Responding to Deputy O'Brien in the Dáil recently, the Minister said that in respect of coastal erosion at the Burrow, Portrane, he had been advised that Fingal County Council was 'leading on the issue.'

Where necessary, the Minister noted, local authorities may put forward proposals to relevant central Government Departments, including the OPW, for funding of appropriate measures depending on the infrastructure or assets under threat.

The Minister said: 'In 2018, in response to serious coastal erosion problems at The Burrow, Portrane, Fingal County Council implemented temporary interim emergency measures to protect properties at risk.

'Funding of €456,464 was approved under the OPW Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme for these works.'

He added: 'Consultants appointed by Fingal County Council are currently assessing options for a longer term permanent solution for the Portrane Peninsula. I have also been informed by Fingal County Council that the assessment of options will be followed by extensive public consultation and environmental assessment and consent processes, which are likely to take several months to conclude.'

The council, the Minister stated, has further confirmed that it is probable therefore that the study and the associated approved plan for the peninsula will take 'at least' until the mid 2020 to complete.

If a viable option is identified, the council may submit a further application for funding to the OPW or other Government Departments as appropriate.

With regard to the preparation of a national coastal erosion strategy and plan, discussions were 'ongoing' between a number of government departments and agencies in relation to managing those strategic issues associated with coastal erosion.

Fingal Independent