Just 25 households get Government assistance to move from flood prone areas

Eight other families are awaiting results as their applications are still be assessed. 
Residents cleaning up after flooding at Cooper Valley Vue in Glanmire Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A total of just 25 households have been offered financial assistance by the Government to move home as their residences are in areas that are highly prone to flooding.

The Office of Public Works has estimated that the final cost of the once-off voluntary relocation scheme, which was introduced in 2017 following major flooding the previous winter, will be approximately €10m.

Figures provided in a briefing document for the new Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, Patrick O’Donovan, show a total of 169 properties were identified by local authorities around the country as being potentially eligible for the scheme.

However, only 25 homeowners have been offered relocation assistance, while eight other families are having their applications for the scheme assessed.

The OPW said engineering solutions to protect properties had been identified in 35 cases, while ongoing work with local authorities to explore if there were possible engineering solutions to lower the risk of flooding was continuing in relation to 23 properties.

A total of 73 homes were deemed ineligible for the scheme.

“This is a scheme of humanitarian assistance and provides funding to homeowners equivalent to the cost to their respective local authority for buying and building a home of similar size,” the OPW said.

It said the scheme was targeted at properties that were worst affected by floods which occurred between December 4, 2015 and January 13, 2016, for which there were no alternative feasible measures.

To be eligible properties had to have been rendered uninhabitable as a result of flooding between those dates and had to be the homeowner’s primary residence.

Affected individuals also had to be unable to obtain flood risk insurance. 

Homes that were due to be included in future flood defence schemes were excluded from the relocation scheme.

The OPW declined to state the location of the successful applicants for the scheme given the low numbers involved as it presented a risk that individual homeowners could be identified, although it is understood that some are located in the lower Shannon region which is one of the worse affected areas from flooding during severe weather events.

Project Ireland 2040 provides for investment of €1bn in flood risk management over the period 2018-2027 across 150 major projects.

The OPW’s major flood risk study, the Cfram programme, identified 34,500 properties in 2018 that had a 1% chance of experiencing a significant flood event in any year.

However, it found that 95% of these properties could be protected through investment in various flood protection measures including 118 additional flood relief schemes.

Flood relief schemes to be completed this year include ones in Bandon, Ennis, Templemore, Clonakilty, and Ashbourne.

Schemes where construction is due to begin in 2020 include Blackpool in Cork, Glashaboy/Glanmire, Co Cork; Lower Morell, Co Kildare, and Sandymount in Dublin.

The OPW pointed out that flood insurance cover in protected areas had increased on average from 77% in 2015 to 84% in 2019 following an agreement with Insurance Ireland about the sharing of data on flood relief schemes.

The level of cover for private homes and small businesses in areas benefiting from fixed flood defences is now 95%, according to the OPW.

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