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30 Nov 2021

Portarlington must wait for River Barrow clearance work

River being cleared through rural areas downstream first

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Flooding on the River Barrow and blockages highlighted by councillors

River Barrow maintenance work near Portarlington to reduce the risk of flooding will not begin until next year.

The timeframe was delivered to councillors at the Portarlington Municipal District after Cllr Aidan Mullins, Sinn Fein, called for work to be done as he had learned work on the river was being carried out elsewhere.

He said the town needs attention.

“I have raised one spot on the river at the bridge that is blocked,” he said.

He said there are other blockages on the river involving trees and other obstacles restricting flow. He asked: “So what is the story with dredging the Barrow back up to Portarlington”? More below link.

 Mr. Philip McVeigh, Senior Executive Engineer, said work would be done on the river under a multi-year programme. He said the sequence of work began by clearing the river from Belan, near the Fisherman’s Inn Pub, to the south of the M7 up to where Barrow meets the motorway.

“Under the five year programme we will be continuing from the motorway up to Portarlington,” he said.

He said a survey would be conducted to identify the pinch points. 

However, Cllr Aisling Moran, Fine Gael, was concerned by the limitations of what could be achieved.

“We are only allowed to clear above the water. This means there is just month window for clearance,” she said.

Cllr Moran wants the river cleared beneath the surface.

“Every other country in Europe can dredge the rivers except Ireland...we need to start dredging the rivers,” she said.

The councillor said flooding results in septic tanks causing problems because the land is saturated by flooding. She called on the council to seek legal opinion on what the law allows when it comes to dredging.

Cllr PJ Kelly, Fine Gael, said he is very familiar with flooding along the river as he farms in the vicinity of the Barrow.

He confirmed that the council had cleared the river as outlined by Mr McVeigh.  He said the landowners have praised the work carried out. He added that they hoped it would continue in the long term. 

Cllr Kelly added that it should assist Portarlington because it will remove blockages downstream which cause the river to back up in the town. 

He added that the dry weather this year had allowed more clearance work to be completed.

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