‘Insurance denied to areas with flood defences’

Kevin 'Boxer' Moran.

The Government announcement of 50 new flood relief schemes at a cost of €257m has been welcomed in many quarters, but concerns are being raised that insurance companies are still refusing cover in areas in which flood defences have already been constructed.

The minister of state with responsibility for flood relief, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, made the announcement yesterday, adding that it is the first tranche of a 10-year programme which will see €1bn invested in flood defences.

Ger Buckley, a member of the Irish National Flood Forum, which represents flood victims, said there is little point in the Government spending massive amounts of money on flood defences if insurance companies will not provide cover to victims of previous floods when they were completed.

Mr Buckley said this is particularly obvious in Fermoy, Co Cork, as insurance companies are not offering cover to householders and businesses which have been hit by flooding over the years — even though the town’s new €38m defences are clearly working.

Mr Moran said the new flood-risk management plans will allow the Government to build on the significant investment in flood defence schemes, since 1995, which has delivered 42 major flood relief schemes around the country.

These schemes successfully provide protection to 9,500 properties and the economic benefit to the State in damage and losses avoided are estimated at €1.9bn,” he said. “There are currently also nine major schemes under construction and a further 24 at design/development which together will provide protection to a further 12,000 properties.

He pointed out that detailed engineering analysis and assessment and extensive public consultation has been undertaken for 300 communities, including 90 coastal areas considered most likely to be impacted by future flooding.

“Progressing these initial 50 new flood relief schemes, together with those 75 schemes already complete and under way, will protect 80% of the 34,500 properties assessed as having a 1% chance of experiencing a significant flood event in any year,” said Mr Moran.

He said it is feasible for the Government to invest in a total of 118 flood relief schemes over the coming decade which will provide protection to 95% of those properties assessed to be at significant flood risk. He said he is making €14m available to 19 local authorities to lead on delivery of 31 of these schemes, each estimated to cost less than €1m.

Mr Moran also launched a website, floodinfo.ie, where people can view the community risk and measures in place, underway now and proposed to tackle flood risk in these 300 areas and nationally.

He said this map and plan viewer website is another important resource, to support planning, emergency response planning, and to empower people and communities to plan and respond to flood risk.

Brian McNelis, director of general Insurance Services at Brokers Ireland, which represents 1,300 brokers throughout Ireland, said it looks like 19 schemes covering about 7,300 properties will be prioritised by the OPW with a further 31 small schemes to be progressed by local authorities.

“That is a welcome step,” said Mr McNelis. “It would also be important that the insurance industry would work very closely with the Government to make sure that where flood defence works have been undertaken, insurance cover would be restored without delay, and I welcome Minister Boxer Moran’s commitment to hold detailed discussions with insurance companies.”

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