Councillors express dismay at OPW Cork flooding map

The Office of Public Works’ mapping of potential flooding in Cork county is seriously inaccurate in a number of locations, it has been claimed, forecasting “Noah’s Ark” extremes and paving the way for insurance companies to hike up cover or refuse it altogether.

Councillors express dismay at OPW Cork flooding map

An elevated area in a West Cork gateway village has been designated a flood risk area — despite the hill road overlooking roof tops.

One of the more extreme examples of OPW mapping came from Cllr James O’Donovan. He said the OPW had deemed the flood risk to be so high in Innishannon, it had included an area “halfway up Church Hill”.

“If that’s the case it’s going to be Noah’s Ark stuff,” the Fine Gael councillor said.

Cllr Kevin Murphy said if flood waters were to reach that height it would mean all the roofs of the houses and shops in the village’s Main St would be submerged.

He insisted it was “highly unlikely this could ever happen” and agreed with his party colleague the council should highlight Innishannon and other anomalies before the OPW finalises flood mapping drafts for the county.

Meanwhile, Cllr O’Donovan also pointed out the OPW had deemed the village of Ballyfeard, south of Carrigaline, as a total flood plain which the councillor said was inaccurate.

Cllr Gillian Coughlan questioned the methodology behind the flood mapping.

“Insurers are looking at another pay day,” she said.

Cllr Rachel McCarthy said: “The current OPW maps will be used by insurance to make hikes or an excuse by insurance companies not to insure businesses and householders suggested.

Cllr Coughlan, however, said the maps in their current form would also have a huge impact for the council’s local area plans especially as the blueprints for future housing development may mistakenly show land zoned for houses was at risk of flooding.

The fallout on insurance premiums was Cllr Murphy’s main concern. He said some businesses were “in big trouble” because they had been wrongly listed as being at serious risk of flooding and were either facing increased premiums or being refused insurance.

He said expansion of businesses through extensions would not be permitted and believed householders would also be in the same boat.

He said the second draft of some of the flood risk maps “were even worse that the first ones” compiled by the OPW. “This is going to devalue properties as well.”

Cllr Frank O’Flynn, meanwhile, raised concerns about the mapping of flood areas in Fermoy.

He pointed out a multimillion-euro OPW flood relief project in the town had been hugely successful, preventing very serious flooding of the River Blackwater in the past two years without damage to properties.

However, despite the success of the flood prevention works, he noted there had been an extension locally in the mapping of likely flood areas.

Cllr O’Flynn claimed the OPW mapping process had led to county council planners refusing planning permission in some areas of the town, and insisted in most of the areas designated there was little or no flood.

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