Saturday 23 August 2008

Floods cast fresh doubt on Tesco's superstore plans

TESCO wants to build a new superstore on a flood-prone site which found itself under water once more during the recent heavy rains.

An Bord Pleanala is to decide on a planning application for the supermarket, which is proposed for a flood plain.

The planning appeals body will make its ruling next week on the controversial application by the retail giant to build a store on land which floods regularly in Portarlington, Co Laois.

Last week, the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, said that he would introduce new planning guidelines to ensure an end to the practice of building on flood plains.

Mr Gormley's department submitted an objection to An Bord Pleanala against the development last March recommending that "no development" should take place in flood plains or "other areas that regularly flood".

Laois County Council granted permission for the development on flood plains adjacent to the River Barrow in the town in February.

However, there have been a number of objections to their ruling including appeals from the Department of the Environment and An Taisce.

Local councillor Michael Moloney said the site proposed for the new supermarket was "totally under water" last weekend after torrential rain.

"It was a shocking state of affairs," Mr Moloney told the Irish Independent.

Mr Moloney said planning permission was granted by the council despite the fact that no funding was available to carry out essential flood relief works at the site.

However, the OPW rejects any suggestion that it was to fund flood relief works at the Tesco site in Portarlington.


A statement from the agency said: "The OPW's contribution is to provide flood protection to deal with the existing flood risk in the town of Portarlington. Any protection works to development sites is a matter for the developer and the planning authority."

Meanwhile, Mr Moloney said the council should have "never indicated" that planning permission would be granted for the supermarket to be built on the flood plains.

"I can see no way this can go ahead next week. It also begs the question about whether or not our county council should be the planning authority in these areas," he added.

Portarlington resident David Orford objected to the development on the flood plains.

"I cannot understand how Laois County Council granted planning permission for this site, it floods on an annual basis. There's pictures going back the last 20 years. Our house is close to the river and last week the water came up to our door almost. There were more places flooded along Patrick Street, that have never flooded before, since all of the development along here," he added.

A spokesperson for Laois County Council was unavailable for comment.

Irish Independent

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