Wednesday, 7 May 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Costello: There has been considerable flooding in Dublin city over the past 18 to 20 months. There was substantial flooding in February 2001 in the East Wall, North Strand and Ringsend areas and on 14 and 15 November 2002 there was a devastating flood in the Tolka River. Such extensive flooding over a brief period is a matter of considerable concern.
Tremendous damage was caused by the flood last November and I will concentrate on that because the damage caused by the other flood has been addressed. The local authority, in conjunction with the Office of Public Works, drafted a set of interim remedial proposals costing approximately €10 million to alleviate the worst effects of the flood and to render the Tolka River in a better position to cope with a flood in the short-term. Substantial work is in the pipeline and a review is due to be carried out on all the water channels in Dublin city. It is envisaged that the work will cost €100 million.
Remedial works costing €10 million were promised and agreed and I seek to ensure that money is made available. Limited remedial works, in comparison to those promised in a report carried out at the time of the Tolka River flood, have been carried out and constituents are not sure whether the balance of the work will be undertaken in 2003. It is important that the work is carried out because there have been two floods in that vicinity over the past 20 months. If it is not carried out, there will be many problems.
One of the major problems relates to the insurance industry. The industry, through letters issued by companies and statements made by its representative body, regards the inaction of the local authority and the Government as a reason to increase premia or not to provide quotes at all, particularly if the action to be taken is not sufficiently proportionate to the threat of future flooding. That is a serious matter and a number of residents have received letters of that nature.
Following the flooding in the East Wall area, representatives of Dublin City Council, the Irish Insurance Federation and local residents agreed proposals to address the flooding and because there was sufficient funding available to carry out the necessary remedial works, the insurance companies agreed that in those circumstances there would be a moratorium on premia increases and they would wait for the Government to ensure the work was carried out.
I call on the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Parlon, who has responsibility for the Office of Public Works, to host a meeting involving all the interested bodies to ensure policy holders do not receive letters similar to those I have described, a letter refusing to quote or a quote with a considerable excess. The way to avoid this is to negotiate in advance. Funding should be made available to carry out the work before the end of the year and a meeting should be hosted by the Minister of State.
Mr. Walsh: I thank the Deputy for raising this matter and I am pleased to reply on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Parlon. As the House will be aware, work has been ongoing on the interim flood alleviation measures on the River Tolka in the Glasnevin and Drumcondra areas of Dublin city, since January of this year. Some of the embankments have been constructed at this stage, most notably on the left bank immediately upstream of Drumcondra Bridge and further upstream in Griffith Park. The landscaping of these embankments is due to take place in the next two weeks.
The replacement of the Woodville Road footbridge is under way and is expected to be completed in June of this year. The construction and raising of some walls has commenced and most of the walls in the vicinity of Drumcondra Bridge will be completed by the end of June. A new wall behind the school on Botanic Avenue will be constructed during the summer holidays. The ground level between the senior citizens' accommodation and Tolka Park has been raised and construction on the wall to support this will commence later this month. The maintenance cleaning of the channel from Distillery Weir to Glasnevin Bridge has been completed.
All of these works will be completed in 2003 and the total cost of these works being implemented in the Dublin city area of the Tolka is expected to be in the region of €700,000. In addition to these works, emergency measures were undertaken by the Office of Public Works in December 2002 to prevent three houses, off Tolka Road, from subsiding into the river.
Not all the recommendations contained in the interim report are being carried out at this time. Given the requirements for site investigations, detailed design of the works, public consultation and public procurement procedures, and environmental considerations it would take quite a considerable time to implement all of the recommendations of the interim report. The concern of the city council and the Office of Public Works has been to devise a package of works which can be carried out before next winter and which will provide a substantial degree of protection should similar flood events recur. The full report on the River Tolka catchment is due to be completed soon and will provide additional information on which decisions regarding the entire Tolka catchment can be made.
The Minister of State, Deputy Parlon, met the Tolka River Residents Alliance, which I assume is the group the Deputy mentioned, last month and fully understands its concerns over the insurance situation. He has also met the Irish Insurance Federation last December to discuss the situation. The House will also be aware that the Minister of State set up a review group last November to carry out a major review of national flooding policy. The review group has consulted a wide range of relevant bodies and is currently arranging a meeting with the insurance federation to discuss the matter further. I agree with the Deputy that home insurance cover should be provided to areas at risk of flooding at a reasonable cost.
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