Put human needs over those of fish, say flood-hit residents

Two community groups in Co Cork have expressed concern that “fish before people” red tape may prevent vital flood prevention works.

People living in Glanmire and Bandon are worried their homes could again be hit by flooding if local rivers are not cleaned of debris before the month’s end.

Cork County Council has applied to the Inland Fisheries Ireland, the National Parks & Wildlife Service, and Coillte to remove debris and dredge the Glashaboy and Bandon rivers.

However, community groups say permission would have to be granted soon, because under legislation no work can be carried out between the end of September and next May.

The council has to acquire permission from all three state agencies before it can undertake such work on waterways.

The situation is particularly critical in Glanmire, the site of serious flooding on Jun 28.

County engineer Noel O’Keeffe admitted that getting access to the Glashaboy, which is narrow and surrounded by some dense vegetation, will be more difficult and time consuming than in Bandon where there is a slip directly into the river.

Jim Healy, chairman of Meadowbrook Residents’ Association in Glanmire, said it was ridiculous that the needs of fish were taking priority over the needs of householders.

“In the laws of priority humans should come first. Whatever works are needed to be done will not affect fisheries in any way. It is ridiculous to think this could hold up the process of safeguarding our homes.”

About 60 houses and more than a dozen businesses were damaged when the Glashaboy burst its banks in June.

All 49 of the houses in Meadowbrook were damaged, some by up to 4.5ft of water.

“Any delay will be psychologically damaging. There will be apprehension among householders all through the winter that they will get flooded again if this work isn’t carried out,” said Mr Healy.

Bandon was badly damaged by flooding in Nov 2009.

Local community activist Gillian Powell said it was imperative that work was done there before the onset of winter.

She has urged householders and businesspeople to “urgently lobby” public representatives to ensure immediate dredging of the river is carried out.

“This would provide us with some bit of a chance over this coming winter. None of us need reminding that the land is completely saturated, in much the same way as it was in Nov 2009, and it won’t take much to put us over the edge,” she said.

Her group aims to raise €10,000 to buy two pumps in the event of further flooding.

* Donations can be made to AIB South Main St, Sort Code: 93-40-46 A/C No: 34864070

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