*Flooding at Springfield, Clonlara. Photograph: Alan O’Reilly
Flood protection works have been given the go-ahead for Clonlara which has been described as a massive relief by local residents.
On Tuesday, An Bord Pleanála confirmed the long-awaited flood defence works in South-East Clare can progress.
A planning application was submitted by Clare County Council to An Bord Pleanála in July. The scheme which is expected to cost in the region of €1.2m involves the construction of a flood protection embankment, land raising, penstock/sluice, pump station and associated works. Residents are hopeful that the works will begin next year with both March and April identified as potential start dates.
Very severe flooding occurred along the lower River Shannon basin with a particularly severe effect on the houses in Springfield in 2002, 2009, 2015 and in February of this year. The area has previously been described as “a warzone with water” and the devastation caused has resulted in residents being evacuated from their homes.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, Gerardine Quinlivan who previously described the conditions of living in a flood prone area as “almost inhuman” admitted that the announcement brought with it a huge sense of relief. “We’re delighted that it has got to this stage after all the years of attending meetings and consultations”.
She admitted, “My phone was hopping with phonecalls, text messages and emails saying how delighted they were with the positive news particularly at a time when positive news is so scarce. The residents that responded to me were viewing it as good news”.
Additional work must be completed before the project is up and running, Gerardine flagged. “We do have a bit to go yet in the sense that Clare County Council have to design the embankment and then landowners have to be approached regarding the access while the build is going on and in addition to that they have to look at the land the embankment is to go on, there is a bit to go yet but we’re delighted An Bord Pleanála have given approval for the flood protection”.
Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) told The Clare Echo that the works will protect the area from the flooding issues that have plagued the community for years.
“I live in close proximity to Clonlara and know many of the homeowners and landowners who have endured so-called ‘once in a lifetime’ flood events on an almost annual basis. It’s been devastating for local residents to see their homes submerged in water and to have to move into hotels for a number of weeks each time. They have waited an awful long time for this and there have been too many false dawns,” he stated.
Work must begin this winter, the Meelick native believed to allow Springfield residents to rest easy. He also criticised planning laws and felt a change was required. “The objector to this particular set of works is based in Dublin and his objection hugely held up this much-needed work which I also feel is an unfair situation to be allowed continue. I have recently called on the government to update planning legislation that would prevent individuals far removed from the problem from causing these often lengthy and stressful delays. You should at a minimum live within a certain distance of the site to register your objections”.