Monday, 17 December 2007

Protest over Oranmore flooding

Residents affected by flooding in Oranmore, Co Galway staged a protest at the weekend to highlight lack of official action.

The council blames the flooding on a poorly-maintained drain, while others say that poor planning and overdevelopment may be to blame.

Fine Gael Senator Fidelma Healy Eames said she was totally dissatisfied at the response from Galway County Council over the past week, when flooding occurred around the Moneymore area.

She said she had received reports of a mother without a car who couldn't get her children to school, a school bus that couldn't travel, septic tanks filling up, and refuse trucks being prevented from picking up the rubbish.

"This is a very serious health and safety issue," Senator Healy Eames said.

"For more than a week now I have been trying to resolve this with Galway council. In their view they are free of all blame and the problem is all down to a single drain which hasn't been maintained by a local developer."

She said she wasn't convinced that the drain was the sole cause of the problem.

It is understood that both the local authority and the developer are taking legal advice. "In the meantime, there is much local hardship and people in Moneymore can't lead normal lives," Senator Healy Eames said.

As the local authority had granted planning permission in the first place, it should take the lead in terms of action, she said.

The impact of development on Oranmore's floodplains has long been a source of concern to Oranmore Community Development Association, given the pressure from construction companies to take advantage of its proximity to Galway city.

One developer pursued a successful legal case against Galway County Council over zoning of the floodplain as amenity/ environment.

In February, Bord Pleanála refused planning permission for a housing development on a sensitive floodplain. The proximity of the location to low-lying coastline and to the Frenchfort stream and its "associated ecological corridor" was cited by the appeals board as one of the main reasons for its decision. This corridor links two designated Special Areas of Conservation (SAC).

Lorna Siggins
Irish Times

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