*Damage in Quilty and Seafield following the storms of 2014.
QUILTY AND parts of West Clare “are the forefront of the consequences of climate change,” the Cathaoirleach of the local electoral area has stressed.
Staff in the Office of Public Works (OPW) said that a €4.4m proposal for coastal protection measures between Quilty village and Seafield Pier did not achieve the “required cost benefit ratio”.
In January 2014, Clare County Council spent €50,000 on 1,000 one-tonne bags of rock and sand for use as an interim barrier to defend over a dozen homes in Quilty following coastal flooding in the weeks previous. Permanent protection to properties devastated by that flooding eight years ago has yet to materialise.
Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with responsibility for the OPW, Patrick O’Donovan (FG) in response to a parliamentary question by Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) detailed that €1.2m for coastal protection works had been allocated to Clare County Council by the OPW since 2009.
This included €65,000 for a coastal erosion and flood risk management study the Mal Bay Coastal Flood and Erosion Risk Management Study covering Quilty, Spanish Point and White Strand in Miltown Malbay in 2015.
However, the Council did not receive funding to a submission made to the Government following the storms and floods of 2014 and 2015 which flagged vulnerable coastline that needed infrastructural improvements to protect public and private property.
The Mal Bay Study identified preferred options for the three sites and in Quilty recommended a rock revetment along the coastline to reduce wave energy and protect the coastline, this had an estimated cost at the time of €4.4m.
Seán Lenihan, senior engineer in the Council’s project management office recalled that the OPW “were not satisfied that the Quilty proposal achieved the required cost benefit ratio and requested further study on sediment transportation and additional information regarding the recreational benefits and visitor numbers in the area”.
This study has since been submitted to the OPW but Lenihan acknowledged, “given the low benefit to cost ratio, it is unlikely that a major scheme will be funded and the most likely outcome is that the OPW will approve a minor works scheme targeted at the most vulnerable dwelling houses along the coast”.
Technical, environmental and economic criteria must be met before such approval would be granted. “The Council is committed to finding a resolution to the fears and concerns of the affected members of the local community and will continue to seek funding from Government to provide much needed protection to the properties at risk in Quilty,” the Miltown Malbay native added.
Cathaoirleach of the West Clare Municipal District, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) recently highlighted the matter and spoke of the photographs he obtained from one Quilty resident, “basically his front lawn is disappearing”.
On the cost benefit ratio mentioned by the OPW, Cllr Murphy commented, “This isn’t pounds, shillings and pence, these are people’s homes and businesses, we can’t put a value on someone’s home and if it could be washed away”.
Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) observed, “we are constantly warned that coastal communities are going to suffer from global warming” to which Murphy responded, “We’re at the forefront of the consequences of climate change. This man is literally scared he will lose his house”.