ESB should not manage dams, flood report states

A LONG-awaited Oireachtas report into the November floods crisis has called on the Government to consider removing the ESB from managing the country’s dams — but has failed to draw any conclusions on what caused the scandal.

After a seven-month investigation, the cross-party Environment Committee report into the floods which devastated large parts of the country and caused €141m in damages to Cork city alone recommended the controversial step to prevent a repeat of the crisis.

A leaked copy of the report, which will be published next Tuesday and has been seen by the Irish Examiner, details 25 separate recommendations.

However, it failed to draw any conclusions over the exact reasons for the severe damage to Cork city and claimed a second legally binding inquiry is needed.

The findings include:

*The Government should oversee an independent review of ESB’s hydro-electrical schemes to clarify whether they should remain under its control.

*The Office of Public Works should set up an early warning systems for all major rivers at risk of flooding.

*Local authorities should develop a database of people at risk of floods or severe weather, and include an annual budget for drainage and river maintenance.

*ESB should be included in councils’ major emergency management frameworks with “immediate effect”.

The report also called on Environment Minister John Gormley to set up an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the Lee valley and Cork city floods on November 19-20.

A spokesperson for the minister last night declined to comment.

Reacting to the report, committee member and Labour TD, Ciarán Lynch, and Fine Gael senator, Jerry Buttimer, said the ball was “now in Gormley’s court”.

Joe Noonan, legal adviser to victims group, the Cork Flood Action Committee, said while some may be disappointed with the lack of conclusions drawn, the report is of “prime value” considering the legal limits of any Oireachtas inquiry.

“As the report’s own recommendations show, the task in finding out what happened is unfinished.”


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