A 25-YEAR campaign by flood-hit residents in South-East Clare has finally reaped dividends after An Bord Pleanála gave the green light to the construction of a €1.2 million flood protection embankment.
Springfield resident, Geraldine Quinlivan has praised the dogged determination of the local community for securing the long-awaited flood protection works.
This South-East Clare rural community has been hit by flooding in 1995, 2002, 2009, 2015, 2016, 2018 and in February 2020 when families had to be evacuated from their homes after their access road became impassable.
More than 7,000 sandbags and pumping stations were delivered to houses in the locality as part of a flood management plan implemented by Clare County Council to assist other locals in the battle to keep water from entering their premises.
Speaking to the Clare Champion on Wednesday, Ms Quinlivan said residents were delighted with the latest ruling from the appeals’ board after decades of lobbying.
She hopes that no one will lodge a Judicial Review of this decision within the next eight weeks so that work can proceed as quickly as possible to build the flood embankment early next year.
Acknowledging that Clare County Council has provided great support to the residents to help them achieve this ruling, she hoped the authority would use the next eight weeks to contact affected local landowners and start preparatory design works.
She called on the ESB to carefully monitor its release of water through Parteen Weir and take the necessary steps to ensure Springfield isn’t flooded this winter.
“We need the ESB and other agencies to remember there are people who are affected by their actions.
“We want all authorities working together to ensure this flooding doesn’t happen again. Has the Shannon Coordination Group met recently to discuss a winter plan and, if so, what is their plan?
“The Shannon Coordination Group needs to produce a winter plan for communities like Springfield.
“Springfield is a small rural community and I have very proud we have brought the flood protection works to this stage. It was the dogged determination and refusal of the local community to give up that achieved this decision,” she said.
Clare IFA chairman, Tom Lane confirmed the council have been in touch with local landowners to acquire the necessary land in connection with this project.
He said the council has guaranteed it has the funding in place to proceed with this project.
The ruling was welcomed by Deputy Cathal Crowe who knows many of the home owners and landowners who have endured so-called ‘once in a lifetime’ flood events on a regular basis.
“They have waited an awful long time for this and there have been too many false dawns.
“I raised this in the Dáil just last week so I’m thrilled to see that common sense has prevailed here.
“The objector to this particular set of works is based in Dublin and his objection hugely held up this much-needed work which I also feel is an unfair situation to be allowed continue.
“I have recently called on the government to update planning legislation that would prevent individuals far removed from the problem from causing these often lengthy and stressful delays.
“You should at a minimum live within a certain distance of the site to register your objections.
“This work needs to start over the course of this winter and coming cold season so that the residents can rest easy, knowing they won’t be forced out of their homes once again,” he said.
Speaking in the Dáil recently, Deputy Violet Anne-Wynne recalled she attended a public meeting in early March and was horrified by the stories relayed to her by residents of Springfield, Clonlara.
“These people endure extreme stress and some would call it trauma. We have had incidents where residents have ended up trapped in the car while trying to access a road close to their houses. These people endure an awful lot of stress and cannot even get home insurance on their properties any longer.
“People had to vacate properties for long periods, sometimes for two to three weeks, and stay in a hotel. Like any other ordinary family, some families have children with special needs and children with their own needs that need to be looked after and they must to do this from a hotel room. It is absolutely unacceptable. One river agency is absolutely needed for the sake of the residents,” she said.