Shannon taskforce among Government measures to deal with floods crisis

A River Shannon taskforce and an extra €10m to cover the clean-up cost are among more than 12 measures agreed by the Government to deal with the flooding crisis.

Shannon taskforce among Government measures to deal with floods crisis

Met Éireann has issued a status yellow weather warning for today with up to 25mm of rain expected to fall in some areas throughout the day.

The Cabinet yesterday signed off on €10m extra funding bringing the total amount to €18m. However, Environment Minister Alan Kelly last night said the final amount will be much greater with road repairs alone expected to cost about €40m.

The OPW is to introduce a pilot scheme to protect homes in Crossmolina, Co Mayo, and Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny, which will allow local authorities build defences such as flood gates to protect properties.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has received approval for a fodder replacement scheme to pay market rate for fodder destroyed by flooding. Farmers can also avail of a hardship recognition fund.

The Red Cross fund for flooded businesses will also be extended to include sports and community facilities.

The Taoiseach is to meet insurers next Tuesday to discuss flood cover. A long-term flood forecasting system involving Met Éireann and the OPW has also been agreed, while the OPW will report back on the terms of reference for the new Shannon Co-ordination group in the next fortnight.

The Government also plans to meet the EU commissioner to ensure emergency work on rivers comply with directives and will also look at the possibility of applying for EU funding.

However, yesterday the EU Commission said its laws are not to blame for flooding and does not ban dredging, saying the Irish Government does not need permission to carry out works on rivers.

It comes as Finance Minister Michael Noonan ruled out exempting those impacted from paying local property tax as had been called for by the opposition.

However, Mr Noonan said: “Local property tax is a tax that is self-assessed, so if a householder believes the value of their property has been diminished or totally cancelled well then they should submit a valuation commensurate with that.

“So it’s already within the legal base of the property tax to allow householders to deal with reducing values from any extreme, even including flooding,” he said.

Insurance Ireland said it is too early to estimate the number of claims after the severe weather or the sum that will have to be paid out.

However, Michael Horan, non-life insurance manager with the body, said he did not believe the final tally will exceed the €250m paid out as a result of the floods of November 2009.

“What we can say is inadequate investment in flood defences combined with building on flood plains has made it difficult for insurance companies to provide cover for flooding.”

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