€5,000 red tape before flood risk river can be cleared

A river partially blocked with debris cannot be cleared by Laois County Council unless an expensive ecological survey is completed.

A river partially blocked with debris cannot be cleared by Laois County Council unless an expensive ecological survey is completed.

The Murghlash river in the Cloncannon and Drinagh areas is blocked by several large items including a fallen tree and a car, but environment red tape means it cannot be cleaned.

Up to 40 households in the surrounding areas are regularly affected by flooding. Cllr Dave Goodwin says they are in fear of their lives and properties, and has asked the council to help alleviate the problem.

“There is continuous flooding, you can see the roads and fields flooded after heavy rain. I know there are restrictions from anglers and environment groups, but people’s lives are more important than the lives of fish. We are not going to have it like the Sahara. The council could put a machine in to four or five areas, to life the tree, pallets and the car, I propose they do it immediately,” he said.

Council engineer Tom O’Carroll thought there would be no problem removing the obstacles.

“We are seeming to get heavier, more intense rainfall, but you could argue that area was always a floodplain. We need to look at moving those obstacles,” he said.

However Ger O’Mahoney, the General Services Supervisor, said a survey would have to be completed first.

“An ecological survey with the Barrow Drainage Scheme would have to be done first, it would cost up to €5,000. We cannot touch it,” he said.

Cllr Paddy Bracken asked what would happen in a major flooding emergency.

“All hell would break loose, there are no regulations in an emergency, If obstacles are identified now, at least give residents some sort of help, then look at the bigger picture, and get funding for a survey. We are allowing red tape to stop us doing what is obvious,” he said.

“We would have to face the consequences after, we would be brought to court. I don’t think removing the tree is a problem, as long as we stay on the bank,” Mr O’Mahoney said.

Cllr Seamus McDonald had also raised the flooding problem.

“Can we see any way around it?,” he asked.

It was finally agreed for all concerned to meet at the site with Barrow Drainage officials.