Town hit by ‘double whammy’ of ‘climate change and Covid-19’ to receive urgent funding

Small businesses in a rural town in south Kerry will receive urgent funding for damage caused by extreme flooding; having been hit by a “double whammy” of misfortune, according to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

Businesses, land and houses in the town of Kenmare have been impacted by flooding caused by heavy rain last week and Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar has opened a scheme for those affected.

The Emergency Humanitarian Scheme provides urgent funding to small businesses, sports clubs, community and voluntary organisations who could not secure flood insurance and have premises that have been damaged by recent exceptional weather events.

Minister Varadkar said that the area was already hit with an “enormous blow with Covid-19” and that the scheme will provide small businesses and community organisations with up to €20,000 in cash for “emergency repairs and replacement of damaged stock or equipment”.

Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Patrick O’Donovan visited Kenmare last week, saying that the OPW is “committed to progressing a €5.43 million flood relief scheme for Kenmare, for which funding has already been secured”.

Flood risk mitigation in the area is currently being looked at, with the OPW having undertaken “detailed analysis and design to develop a solution to flooding on the N70 at Sneem and the Atlantic Gateway development”.

Deputy O’Donovan said he has been advised that Kerry County Council will be submitting an application for funding for these works under the OPW’s Minor Flood Mitigation and Coastal Protection Scheme in “the near future”.

‘The debilitating effects of climate change’

A Kerry County Councillor has warned that significant investment is required in the county as people are “suffering the debilitating effects of both Covid-19 and climate change”.

Fianna Fáil Cllr. Michael Cahill stated: “While we, in Kerry, have been largely successful in restricting the spread of Covid-19; our local industries have been devastated by it and the recent flooding shows we have a long way to go to combat climate change.

Investment in flood and erosion defences in Kerry need to be stepped up big time if the likes of Kenmare is to continue to be a viable place to live and work.

“We need to rescue our lives and businesses following this outbreak of disease, but that will be pointless if we allow climate change to wreak even further havoc.

“Both the threats posed by the coronavirus and climate change need to be addressed of course by changes in human behaviour, but the immediate problems caused must be dealt with now and that will require significant government/EU funding,” Cllr. Cahill concluded.