An interdepartmental flooding report, rejected due to inadequate recommendations, will not delay major flood reliefs projects.
The assurance from Sean Canney, minister of state with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, came yesterday in Limerick where a contract was signed for a €2.3m tidal defence barrier in Foynes harbour.
Highest-ever tides in Foynes in January and February of 2014 led to flooding causing major upheaval for residents and business owners.
A number of Government departments including Social Protection, Defence, Finance, Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and Agriculture, had been asked to make submissions to an interdepartmental report on future government policy.
“I had seen a draft report and I will be meeting with that interdepartmental group again shortly to go through that report, because I think it’s important that we have policies which are durable, sustainable, and actually are effective,” said Mr Canney.
Pressed on why recommendations were deemed inadequate in the report, Mr Canney replied: “I would like to see more recommendations into what we should be doing.
“The interdepartmental group would be consisting of every aspect of flooding… so it is something that will be informing Cabinet and policy into the future so I think we need to ensure that we make a good effort at it.”
He insisted the delay in presenting a report to Cabinet would not hold up any flood relief works.
“It’s about how policies are put in place into but I want to reassure people works that are ongoing are ongoing,” said Mr Canney. “Works that are being designed are still being designed. There is nothing that is held up as a result of this report being held up.”
He said he has met Insurance Ireland, which has agreed to meet with the OPW to examine the protocol around temporary flood defences. He has also written to the CEO of every local authority in the country and encouraged them to prepare minor work schemes for contracts up to a value of €500,000 which can be carried out “fairly quickly” if they meet the criteria.
Since taking office, the minister said he had examined how flood relief projects are being processed and admits it was “totally unacceptable” larger flood schemes, from inception to the construction phase, are taking an average of seven years.
He aims to shorten the process and hopes to see legislation introduced shortly to deal with the matter.
Meanwhile, permanent flood defences in Foynes will cost 2.3m. An eight-month contract, works are due to begin within weeks.
Joe Delaney, design and delivery services with Limerick City and County Council, said the project will not negatively impact the public amenity or business functions of the port at Foynes.
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