Sunday, 2 January 2011

Councillor seeks permission for houses in area prone to flooding

A MEMBER of Clare County Council who had to access his flooded home by dinghy during floods last year, has lodged plans for five detached houses on a site prone to flooding adjacent to his home in Ennis.

Last year, Fine Gael councillor Tony Mulqueen was photographed paddling a dinghy to his family’s home at Cappahard, Tulla Road, Ennis, after water levels rose to more than 76cm (2.5ft) around his home.

In spite of Mr Mulqueen putting in flood protection measures and sandbagging at his home, the house sustained flood damage.

However, the councillor has now lodged an application to secure outline planning permission for the five detached houses adjacent to his home in the residential area.

In planning documents lodged with Ennis Town Council, a consultant acting for Mr Mulqueen confirmed the site in which he has lodged the planning application was prone to flooding.

The consultant said the time of the most extreme flooding at the site was December 2009, but the highest flood level was unknown.

A county council colleague of Mr Mulqueen’s, Brian Meaney of the Green Party, said yesterday the site for Mr Mulqueen’s application was “prone to flooding and it does appear that the plans are at odds with the Department of the Environment’s guidelines on building in areas prone to flooding and the affect such a plan would have on nearby housing”.

“The council will have regard to this in evaluating the application. Any person can apply for whatever they want and it is up to planners to assess the application on planning criteria,” Mr Meaney said.

He added that “there has already been inappropriate housing development around Ennis with the result today that you have people living in homes that are at risk to flooding”.

A decision on the application is due next month. When contacted, Mr Mulqueen declined to comment on the planning application.

However, in a local newspaper interview last year, he said: “I think planners should use local knowledge when it comes to determining whether or not a new housing scheme should be built on a flood plain. One of the problems is that the water is coming into the River Fergus faster and it doesn’t have anywhere to go”.

Irish Times

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