DISAPPOINTMENT has been expressed in Springfield, Clonlara, after a further delay with relief works designed to save residents from a repeat of devastating flooding that has forced them out of their homes multiple times over the last 15 years.
Planning for flood protection works began in early 2016, after more than 10 families had to evacuate their properties and a further five had their access roads completely cut off. Since then, the proposed €1.2 million works have hit a number of hurdles, and it has now been confirmed that rather than going through an internal local authority adjudication process, the plans will now go to An Bord Pleanála.
Senior Engineer with Clare County Council, Seán Lenihan told authority members this month that the nature of the works could not be contained, as had been anticipated, within a Part Eight application. “They require an EIAR (Environmental Impact Assessment Report) and an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement),” he explained, adding that the application is set to be lodged at the end of June or early July.
Councillor Michael Begley said the news had left him with “mixed feelings”. “On the one hand, we might avoid some of the issues which lead the previous Part Eight to be withdrawn after environmental concerns were highlighted,” he said. “On the other, An Bord Pleanála can take several months to give its decision. We could be looking at 2021 before works begin.”
The Independent councillor expressed the hope that that time-frame might avoid future disruption to residents, who were mostly recently forced to leave their homes last February. Previous severe flooding occurred in Springfield in 2015, 2009, 2002 and 1995. “You can see that the interval between these floods is getting shorter,” Councillor Begley noted. “We would be hoping to have the two-year window would give us enough time to prevent people from having to go through this all over again.”
Local reaction is one of disappointment, but a degree of acceptance.
“We are disappointed at this news, but it’s not altogether unexpected,” said Gerardine Quinlivan, whose family were forced out of their homes by previous flooding events. “We’ve recently carried out more works on our property, at our own expense. The only saving grace is that the summer has been dry so far. That’s keeping the water levels down, but the prospect of flooding is a constant worry. We are hoping that An Bord Pleanála might deal with this as soon as possible.”
In February last, in response to a query from The Champion, Peter Sweetman, who objected to a previous Part Eight application on environmental grounds, called for the flood defences application to go directly to An Bord Pleanála.