Local group express concerns about flood walls

An aerial view of Carrick-on-Shannon when it was flooded in 2009. Fears have been expressed about the chances of flooding in six areas 'of significant flood risk' in the county.

A Carrick-on-Shannon based group have expressed their concerns about the proposed flood defences saying it has proven difficult to obtain information in relation to the type of wall that will be erected along the River Shannon in the county town.

John Dunne, a member of the Carrick Flood Relief Action Group is hoping to create greater awareness about the plans to create flood defence walls which he believes could be drastically different from what is perceived.

“The walls in Athlone are going ahead and the walls in Carrick-on-Shannon are earmarked to go ahead. I don't know if the people in Carrick understand, these aren't pretty things. We need discussions with the people of the town to see if that is what they want.”

He added, “This could be a slow train crash. People need to have the discussion if they want to have walls or not. We'll still be agitating and consulting public bodies with or without walls.”

Mr Dunne said 1,600 metres of walls and embankments are planned for Carrick-on-Shannon but he has been unable to obtain information in relation to what type of wall will be erected or the timeframe surrounding their construction from Leitrim Council or the OPW.

Mr Dunne expressed reservations about the need to construct a wall stating the estimated cost for its construction is €6m.

“We believe less than €500,000 would be enough to do enough dredging to alleviate this area.”
Expanding on why he doesn't believe a wall is the solution Carrick-on-Shannon needs, Mr Dunne added, “The wall won't stop the water table coming up. Behind the wall you still need pumps to pump the water table back behind.”

Mr Dunne expressed concerns about unanswered questions with regard the cost involved in running pumps of the size that would be needed in such a scenario.

“It would take 2,000-3,000 litres of fuel a day to run. Who will supply, manage and pay for the fuel? Nobody is having this discussion.”

Mr Dunne expressed the opinion the River should be easier to manage at this northerly point saying, “The river is only tiny up here. It should be easier to fix. Small amounts of money will do significant amounts of work for us.”

Mr Dunne added, “We need to improve the conveyance in the summer, then the flood doesn't happen. We're having the wrong discussions, we're talking about walls.”

Speaking in Carrick-on-Shannon last month, Minister of State at the OPW with responsibility for Flood Relief, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran said, "I am not going to commit to a call for a redesign and have people outside of this room facing the possibility of being flooded," he told the public representatives, council staff and community representatives gathered in the chamber of Aras an Chontae.

The plans to install flood defence walls arose from the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) study of the town but Mr Dunne believes that report is flawed.

“The CFRAM study in relation to the 2009 flooding was carried out to assess flood risks around the country.

“The Government got a large international company called Jacobs to carry out the study. A lot of groups thought the study was flawed in that a construction company was carrying out the study rather than a dredging company.”

During his visit to Carrick-on-Shannon Minister Moran said he would not seek a redesign instead urged people to take whatever money comes their way for flood defences.

“If I were to delay this with a redesign you would be looking at a delay of at least a couple of years (for flood relief works).”

Minister Moran added, he would be willing to meet with local representatives and see where improvements could be made to current plans, but stressed "this will not be a redesign."

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