Flood talks to look at levies, relocation

Large insurance levies and the relocation of thousands of residents from flood-prone areas are both being considered by the Government to help address the flooding crisis.

A relocation scheme administered by local authorities where the State would buy affected homes could be examined by early spring, coalition sources said last night.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said the State could not continue to pump funds into protecting areas which would constantly flood.

Asked if levies and relocation schemes were being considered, the Labour TD said: “We may be doing both of those things.”

The outgoing Government has allocated €430m towards flood prevention projects over the next five years. Some experts suggest, though, that billions of euro are needed.

“There is a relocation process being looked at. We may have to go down that route as well,” Mr Howlin told RTÉ. “There is no country that can guarantee that every single area that did not flood in the past will not flood in the new reality of climate change.”

An inter-departmental group, due to report at the end of January, will examine voluntary relocation options, insurance problems, and protection schemes for areas.

However, up to 30,000 homes may not be protected by the Government’s planned flood defence scheme, reports said yesterday, which will cover 300 areas nationwide.

Coalition sources said the numbers would be much smaller though, and that ultimately relocation might only be offered to a few thousand home owners.

“It would be administered by local authorities, but only after flood works are ruled out [for the area],” they said. “The State would buy up the property that no one can live in. You would need to attach a value on it.”

Enda Kenny and ministers will hold a crunch meeting with the insurance industry tomorrow over the flooding crisis.

The availability of insurance for homeowners in other countries compared to Ireland will be discussed, as well as what problems companies have covering properties here.

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