Laois councillors eager for river cleaning to be included in flood relief plan

Michelle Hogan

Reporter:

Michelle Hogan

Laois councillors eager for river cleaning to be included in flood relief plan

Laois councillors eager for river cleaning to be included in flood relief plan

Flooding and river cleaning were discussed at another council meeting in the Mountmellick/Borris-in-Ossory municipal district this month.

Cllr Seamus McDonald, Cllr David Goodwin and Cllr Brendan Phelan all tabled notices of motion relating to flooding in different parts of the county.

Cllr McDonald asked Laois County Council to include cleaning the rivers Barrow, Clodiagh and Blackwater in the flood relief programme.

“The cause of flooding in the rivers last winter is because they were not clean and they are still not clean.

“There is an area of the River Barrow that has not been cleaned in 35 years. From the Bay Bridge all the way to Tinnahince needs to be cleaned, money wil have to be made available” he said.

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Cllr Paddy Bracken said there is ‘big fear out there’ in relation to flooding since last November.

“The people affected by flooding would hold a very strong view that we have failed to do a river clean in the last few years, there is huge concern out there. I would like to see those areas addressed. With a downpour of rain people were out with sandbags again a few weeks ago. People are very angry that no river cleaning has been done,” he said.

Senior Executive Engineer at Laois County Council, Mr Paul McLoughlin, said river cleaning works are planned and the process is ongoing for later this year.

Cllr David Goodwin asked that council engineers liase with farmers at Manor Road, Mountmellick to alliviate flooding of the land and specifically asked Laois County Council to alleviate flooding at Mary Flanagan’s residence at Johnsgrove, Rosenallis.

Mr McLoughlin said that the council will liase with landowners in Mountmellick at a date and time to be agreed with Cllr Goodwin and that it will inspect the issue of flooding at the house  in Rosenallis and address it as appropriate.

Independent Cllr Brendan Phelan tabled a motion asking Laois County Coucil to remove silt under the bridge at Donaghmore to avoid future flooding.

Mr McLoughlin said the council would remove the silt.

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Mr Paul McLoughin said cleaning has been carried out on the rivers, although ‘not extensive’ he said that work has been done.

Paddy Bracken added that cleaning rivers is an ‘ongoing battle’.

“We are so close to the Sieve Bloom Mountains an we are vulnerable because of that. There is work done but it is the extent of it,” he said.

Cllr James Kely said the gap between writing reports about rivers and getting the work done is too much.

The window for getting work done on rivers is between July and September.

The process can be set back by reports and impact statements that then have to go to An Bord Pleanála.

Cllr David Goodwin adressed the cost of the work and said that work has been done ‘under cover’ on rivers in the past.

“When this issue is raised, the first thing the engineer says is that they are under pressure for resources, there is no shortage with the €9 million from the OPW.

“In relation to the National Parks and Wildlife, we have to ask who runs the country? Is it the parks and wildlife, members of council or members of government? People are suffering tremendously. Very welcome work has been done in the last few years, some under cover to avoid being caught.

Mr McLoughlin said that Laois County Council has a budget of €200,000 per year for works ongoing on the River Barrow. The €9million is for flood relief works through the Office of Public Works.

He added that initial reports by the OPW state that ongoing maintenance should continue on rivers but maintenance was not the issue with the flood last November in Mountmellick, it was the level of rain that fell and maintenance would not have prevented it. The OPW has called for hard physical borders for the flood relief plan as opposed to than dredging and cleaning rivers.

Cllr Goodwin asked if any of the €9million will go towards cleaning rivers.

Mr McLoughlin said the plan for the €9million is still being discussed.

“We are some time away from the final plan, the OPW have put a line on the map so far. It is in the detail design stage I can’t say how much will be for river drainage but the capital sum by the OPW is for hard defences.

Mr McLoughlin has been appointed as Project Manager to oversee the flood relief plan for Mountmellick in conjunction with the OPW. He will give a full presentation on this at the June AGM of Laois County Council.

Multi million grant to Laois for flood relief schemes.