January 7th 2016
As devastating flooding has gripped the country a number of knee-jerk solutions have been put forward to resolve flooding in the Shannon river.
Many commentators have latched onto the notion of dredging the river as a solution but An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, are saying this is not the answer.
In a statement this week the environmental and heritage group said:
“A number of ‘self-styled’ experts are appearing on the media telling us how to control the flooding on the River Shannon. An Taisce is not claiming such expertise but the answer must be based on the entire Shannon Catchment and must allow for the fact that climate change will increase the problems over coming years. The best answers will come from the Shannon CFRAM (Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Study) being undertaken by the OPW although as yet climate risk is not included.
“The CFRAM assessment treats the Shannon on a River Basin basis and will ‘Identify measures and options for managing flood risks, both in local high-risk areas and across the whole study area’. Today’s Press Release from the European Commission explains the actual wording of Nature Directives and Natura Sites, and the limited usefulness of of dredging. It states:’EU Nature Directives (Birds and Habitats) do not prevent measures being taken to protect lives and property. In particular they provide for situations of ‘over-riding public interest’ to permit activities that might damage a Natura 2000 site but which are necessary for human welfare. The Directives do however require an assessment of the options available before a conclusion is reached that such damage is unavoidable.
“Dredging is not always the solution for flooding. It may help to sort out a local problem but it may also transport the problem downstream, sometimes from rural to urban areas where the damage on properties and economic activities can be much higher. Therefore the basin-wide approach included in EU policies is essential to find effective and long-term solutions.”