Five homes have been left cut off by flooding in Ballycar – Photo: Pat Flynn © 2014
The Minister with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) has said it could take a quarter of the annual flood relief budget to resolve just one issue in Co Clare.
The railway line at Ballycar near Newmarket on Fergus has been closed since February 1st while 5 homes have been left cut off by the same flood waters for almost 3 months.
It’s the third time in 5 years the Limerick to Ennis railway has been closed due to flooding while Iarnród Éireann has confirmed services are not expected to resume until the middle of May at the earliest.
While it could cost between €20,000 and €50,000 to raise the road and alleviate problems suffered by locals, it could however take €10m to resolve the wider flooding issue.
Minister Brian Hayes has said: “There are essentially two options available to deal with this problem. One is to attempt to undertake works to mitigate the flooding at the lough. This has been investigated and a preliminary cost of approximately €10 million has been estimated for the required works, which is one quarter of the national flood relief budget for this year.”
“Another option is to raise the affected stretch of road and the railway line. Raising the road could be undertaken by the local authority at very little cost. In respect of the rail line, it is a matter for larnród Éireann as the owner of the railway line to resolve the problem by taking the lead on and funding the flood mitigation works or by the raising the railway line.”
Iarnród Éireann has consistently maintained the position that: “The recommended works to be undertaken are outside the railway line and in the realm of works the OPW would have powers to undertake”.
While the OPW has washed it’s hands of the problem, the flooding of Ballycar Lough has been blamed on works undertaken by the OPW over 85 years ago.
A study commissioned by Iarnród Éireann and published in October 2011 concluded: “The cause of the flooding is the works carried out by the OPW in 1929 when they increased the catchment area.”
Minister Hayes has now confirmed: “If bringing the people together to see if some collective solution can be found is something worth pursuing, be assured that not only will the OPW be at the table, it will try to find a solution.”
A spokeswoman for Iarnród Éireann said: “If such a group was to be created, we would be very happy to work with them. It is essential that that OPW be centrally involved.”
Despite raising the line by 60cm in 2003, rail services were also suspended for seven weeks in February 2008 and for a further eight weeks late in 2009 after the railway became submerged in floodwaters.