‘Farmland flooding needs to be assessed’

Recent storm and flood damage that has wreaked havoc on many coastal and river catchment areas must be fully assessed by Government, and action taken to assist those affected and to prevent a recurrence.

This is according Irish Farmers Association (IFA) President Eddie Downey. Speaking in advance of a meeting this afternoon with the Minister with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Brian Hayes, the IFA president said the problem has mainly affected western and southern coastal areas where land has been lost to the sea as well as rock and debris being strewn across farmland.

The IFA has had reports of a significant amount of land where barriers have been breached and farmland is now under seawater.  For example, in Co Mayo where IFA has done an assessment of the damage, up to 1,000 ha of land is affected. This land requires remedial works over the next number of months to bring it back to its former state, it said.

Downey said the assessment will determine what is required to get the land back to its original state.  Also, remedial works and sea defences will have to be strengthened and this analysis will feed into works that need to urgently be carried out by local authorities, he said.

The IFA president added where land is damaged, no farmer should lose out on EU payments and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney should instruct his department to secure force majeure so that normal farm payments can be made.

IFA flood project team chairman Tom Turley said the Government need an overall strategy to tackle the flooding issue which has affected areas such as the Shannon catchment area and other river areas throughout the country.

“The minister must bring forward its Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Plan, which has been promised for some time as a way to expedite preventative investment so that flooding can be avoided or mitigated.”

An aerial view of the Midlands taken by the Irish Air Corps shows the extent of the flooding at Ballinasloe and Athlone. (Irish Air Corp Facebook page)