Monday, 7 December 2009

Department criticised for allowing the rezoning of flood plain

THE wisdom of a decision by Offaly councillors and the Department of the Environment to facilitate the rezoning of a flood plain outside Tullamore has been called into question.

The Tullamore West flood plain, on the banks of the Grand Canal, was rezoned last year to allow for a €30 million housing development to be developed on 60 acres of land.

In the Irish Mail on Sunday Fine Gael councillor Tommy McKeigue called on the plan to be scrapped and the rezoning to be revoked.

He said in the context of recent flooding it was unwise to allow building on natural drainage areas.

And he called on Environment Minister John Gormley to intervene and questioned why his department had sanctioned the rezoning proposal.

"Mr Gormley has been going around for the past week blaming councillors and councils for developing on flood plains yet he is allowed this rezoning to take place [in 2008].

"Why? He was crying crocodile tears when he was driving down to Cork and those places to examine the flooding," he said.

A spokesman for Mr Gormley said the matter was dealt with at official level and was not handled by the minster directly.

He said ministers only intervened in specific circumstances and this area was considered in the context of the overall development plan for Tullamore and was not an isolated rezoning.

The rezoning proposal was supported by eight Fianna Fáil councillors and two independents.

Five Fine Gael councillors and four independents tried unsuccessfully to block it.

Irish Examiner

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