NSURANCE companies will decide themselves if they’ll restore cover to homes in previously flooded areas of West Cork.
That’s according to the county engineer and director of services for water services, coastal management and flood projects, Kevin Morey.
Mr Morey was speaking at a meeting of the Western Committee of Cork County Council, where an update on West Cork’s flood relief schemes was given.
Now that most of the flood schemes have been, by and large, finalised, Cllr Karen Coakley (FG) asked if homeowners and the business community will be able to get insurance again.
However, Mr Morey said the insurance companies will ‘decide themselves but once the schemes are signed off and complete and is effective, it should change the situation.’
Kevin Costello, senior engineer for flood projects, said there are still some instream dredging works to be done on the Bandon Flood Relief Scheme in 2020.
But he said some of the work cannot start until May 1st because May to September is the ‘window’ for river works.
Work on the Clonakilty Flood Relief Scheme at Kent Street will continue through to March and the situation there is being reviewed by the Council’s roads department.
Mr Costello said the Skibbereen Flood Relief Scheme is substantially complete. However, some works – including Rossa Road, which is known locally as The Cutting – will have to be completed this year because they are ‘outside’ of the main flood scheme and largely deal with surface water issues that can cause localised flooding.
As reported in last week’s Southern Star, The Cutting will be closed for 11 weeks from January 20th to allow this.
Mr Costello said the scheme for Bantry is ‘at stage one’ and a ‘brief’, which will consider development options, will be ready early in the New Year.
My Morey pointed out that ‘a lot has been delivered in terms of protection.’
But the Bandon-based Cllr Sean O’Donovan (FF) insisted that more needs to be done to enhance biodiversity in the river. Both he and the county mayor Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said Bandon, Clonakilty and Skibbereen – towns that had concrete gullies placed along their rivers and streams – need to be ‘re-wilded’.
The county mayor suggested: ‘Cork County Council should take the lead on biodiversity.’ Mr Costello said: ‘That is a discussion we haven’t had, but we will take it up with the Office of Public Works.’
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) complained that homeowners in Ballinhassig are being overlooked and the river from Belgooly to Riverstick ‘hasn’t been cleaned’ in years.
Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said landowners used to be given a grant for cleaning the rivers but that isn’t available anymore.
He suggested that it be re-introduced and that landowners be provided with ‘clear instruction and authority about what they can and can’t do in relation to cleaning rivers adjoining their property.’
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) – who has repeatedly made representations on behalf of at-risk homeowners in Ballylickey – said the residents there have been told that they cannot clean the river.
‘Boxer Moran – the Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief – visited Ballylickey two-and-a-half years ago and said he would sort it, but these people have been forgotten,’ he added.
During the discussion, Cllr Collins also called on the director of services to prioritise dredging in Ballydehob because the silt is clogging gullies and causing an offensive odour during the summer months. Kevin Costello said the dredging works in Ballydehob would require ‘significant funding’ and the divisional manager, Clodagh Henehan, suggested: ‘It would be a heavy cost on the Council’s operational account.’
Ms Henehan also pointed out that it is the Council members who are ‘in control of the spending of the operational account’.
The manager said the Council had talked to the Department of Agriculture and Marine and the funding available for dredging in 2020 is €112,000 with the Council adding €40,000.
‘That isn’t going to provide much dredging in Ballydehob,’ she said. She did, however, agree to sit down with the Department to see if there are any funding schemes that would help. ‘There are a lot of calls on capital funding,’ she said, ‘it’s about finding a funding source.’
Ms Henehan reminded the councillors that the Council has agreed some borrowing with the Council of Europe Bank and she said that funding will be discussed with the members later this year.