Minister of State at the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform, Simon Harris, has confirmed, in correspondence to Fine Gael TD Joe Carey, that he will meet a deputation of Clohaninchy residents in the coming weeks.
Deputy Harris also has special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) who, in correspondence last week, said that a new coastal protection project is not eligible for funding because available money was for “repair” of damaged coastal protection infrastructure.
Residents in this area of West Clare have expressed concern that if coastal erosion works are not carried out, further instances of flooding, similar to January and February of this year, may re-occur in 2015. Clare County Council has estimated that remedial works would cost €4.7m.
“I understand from correspondence issued to me from the minister that he has requested officials in his department to make contact with the officials in Clare County Council to ascertain the status of any proposals in relation to the coastal works that may be forthcoming from the council,” Deputy Carey said.
In a letter, also sent to Clohaninchy Action Group, Minister Harris’ office said that the issue was primarily one for Clare County Council to deal with but that the OPW will consider suitable proposals.
“Local authorities have statutory responsibility for investigating the problems of coastal erosion in their county and for the preparation of reports and proposals for addressing such problems. In proposing and progressing any scheme of coastal protection, the council must be satisfied that land within the county is being progressively damaged by the continuing encroachment of the sea, as distinct from occasional or abnormal storms. The OPW will consider any proposals or reports submitted from a local authority for a coastal protection scheme,” the letter from Minister Harris’s office read.
“It is a requirement that proposals for a coastal protection scheme involving structural measures to prevent or mitigate erosion are put forward in conjunction with an appropriate coastal erosion risk management study, which fully investigates, substantiates and demonstrates the merits of any measures being proposed. Such measures, in general, require the investment of substantial amounts of public funding and, in order to ensure value for money, it is necessary that a detailed study be undertaken in advance of undertaking any measures. In addition, a study will ensure all options are considered. It is open to Clare County Council to submit an application under the OPW’s Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme for funding to assist it in the carrying out of such a study,” the letter added.