Dáil debates

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Topical Issue Debate

Flood Prevention Measures

6:25 pm

Photo of Brian StanleyBrian Stanley (Laois-Offaly, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I am grateful for the opportunity to raise the flooding that occurred in County Laois at the weekend, including on Botley Lane in Portarlington, in the Crossneen area of Graiguecullen and on the Manor Road in Mountmellick. The area that is worst affected is Clonterry in Mountmellick, which was flooded by the River Barrow. Residents living on Clonterry Lane are trapped, with the roadway flooding at both ends, and can only get in and out using a high tractor. A van or jeep will not go through the floodwaters, never mind a car. This is causing great problems for residents trying to get to school, work and medical appointments. I spoke to a hospital worker resident this morning who was struggling to get to work.

This is an area, located on the banks of the Barrow river, that floods every year but for which there is a fairly simple solution. There is a short section of roadway close to the Barrow bridge that needs to be raised by at least a metre and strengthened. I spoke to the local county engineer about it this week and was told that this measure, together with some drainage works, would address the issue. The problem is that Laois County Council does not have the funding to do what is needed. It has no flood relief budget but only a very thin roads budget to cover large areas of the county and the huge lengths of public roads that have to be tarred. Indeed, the council is not even able to keep up with the demand in that regard, let alone provide additional funding. We are looking at funding in the region of €40,000 to put this right. It does not require a long study to figure out what needs to be done. The solution is there; the engineers have looked at it, and what is required, as I said, is to raise a short section of road, some 75 m to 80 m long. That would allow residents to travel out to the Portarlington Road and get to work, get their children to school, and attend hospital and other appointments. They can put up with not being able to go the other way, even though some of them will have a longer journey. It is better than not being able to get out of the area at all. Most colleagues have emphasised the role of the OPW. In this case, it is Laois County Council which needs to step up, but it will require some €40,000 of emergency funding to do so.


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