Flood relief plans for Springfield have been withdrawn following an environmental objection.
Environmentalist, Peter Sweetman a son of former Fine Gael Minister for Finance, Gerard Sweetman and state agency National Parks and Wildlife filed objections against works in Clonlara. Their submissions come three years on from the forced evacuations of residents from their homes in Springfield.
As a result of the submissions, Clare County Council has decided to shelf the plans. The local authority explained their reasons for doing so in a statement released on Tuesday. “Following consideration of a number of submissions received as part of the Part VIII application, it became apparent that further information and more detailed assessment of some environmental factors was required. Having regard to that, and to the requirement as a Local Authority to satisfactorily address all relevant environmental matters, it was considered appropriate to withdraw the current Part VIII application. On completion of the necessary further assessments, we will then be in a position to prepare and submit an updated application at the earliest juncture”.
Gerardine Quinlivan had to leave her home in 2015 as a result of severe floods. The objections have come as a setback to all residents in Springfield. “My initial reaction was disappointment that it wasn’t going to go ahead for the moment. Then I got annoyed to be honest because we were looking forward to this embankment and we put a lot of work in getting it to this stage. I was annoyed that yet again environmental requirements are put before people”.
In her view, the area is not prepared to deal with any floods. “While we as a family have built a wall, it’s not finished yet because my husband is trying to get it done in between working, my brother and his wife have put up a substantial flood protection wall to protect their homes but we’re not sure if that will do. We’ll never be ready really”.
That people who did not experience the floods in Clonlara three years ago have the power to stall relief works has irritated Gerardine. “Clare County Council in fairness have worked tirelessly with the community to get this over the line, to get us some bit of closure with regard to the flooding, we’ve been fighting to save our homes from flooding. We were looking forward to this flood mitigation scheme and here is an individual and a state agency objecting to our embankment for environmental reasons. There are seventeen families down here depending on the bank to be built. It looks like a higher priority is being placed on environmental issues as opposed to the communities affected”.
She told The Clare Echo, “It seems that people don’t matter. I understand the need for environmental regulations, we can’t have a free for all. I thought we would go in do the job, put it back to the best of their ability the way it was albeit there will be a bank in the field. These are fields that there will be a mud embankment on, we live a mile and a half away from the River Shannon, I cannot understand for the life of me how we would have an impact on any SAC on the River Shannon, I’m not sure how far away the bank will be but I do know that we are a mile and a half away from the River Shannon and that embankment is to go between us and the River. I cannot understand how a flood embankment is going to have an effect on an SAC, it doesn’t make sense to me whatsoever”.
“At the moment we’re getting flooded every four or five years, before the last time it was 09 and then it was 15, the floods are getting bigger and deeper. We so badly need this embankment and it seems to be very unfair that one person and a state agency is allowed to stop seventeen homes from being protected down here, the mind boggles. I cannot understand for the life of me how this mud embankment would have an effect on any SAC considering we are actually a mile and a half away from the river”.