Experts call for funding to identify landslide risks

EXPERTS yesterday called for more funding to identify areas most at risk from landslides.

In its latest report, the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) warned the risk of a freak deluge of soil from mountain bogs has been underestimated.

But geologists refused to identify areas most under threat without a full and thorough survey.

Ronnie Creighton, editor of the report Landslides in Ireland, said the GSI needs an extra €500,000 to map the country and mark danger zones for two years.

“It is quite a complex situation and we don’t want to sensationalise it. There are three sides to it – upland areas, steep slopes and a presence of peats,” he said.

It is feared this combination would create unstable soils and lead to a repeat of events in Pollatomish, Co Mayo and Derrybrien, Co Galway in 2003.

Landslides there were totally unexpected and while no-one was killed or injured they wreaked havoc on the two rural communities.

The GSI warned the risk of landslides is due to increased infrastructure, urbanisation and climate change.

Heavy rain after a period of drought would compound the problem, experts said.

They also accused local authorities for permitting housing developments near areas where such natural disasters are likely to occur.

According to Dr Peadar McArdle, GSI director, a survey is needed to pinpoint areas most at risk.

“The focus must be on the expansion of the national database with a systematic survey of the country, targeted geotechnical research, the preparation of landslide susceptibility maps and the integration of landslide issues into the planning process,” he said.

Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey, said: “This report represents a major contribution to the study of landslides on a national basis.

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