THE MYSTERY OF THE SHAMBLES RIVER!

10 September 2010 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Hardly worthy of Sherlock Holmes, perhaps, but the question of where the statutory authority lies for the alleviation of flooding problems created by the Shambles River in Monaghan Town generated a mystery that couldn’t be solved at Monday’s meeting of Monaghan Co Council!

Representatives of the Office of the Public Works present at the meeting to give a presentation on flooding-related issues were unable to give a definitive response on whether the OPW or the Co Council had responsibility for the Shambles tributary.

The OPW’s Dr Leslie Lennox and Gavin Poole promised, however, that clarification of the point would be provided to the Council “before the week is out”.

Officials of the Council also took exception to what they interpreted as an OPW suggestion that Co Monaghan projects submitted to the Minor Works Scheme operated by the OPW to deal with flooding problems in individual locations had failed to meet the criteria, and that Monaghan as a result had not been as successful as other counties in accessing funding from this source.

Co Manager Declan Nelson said this was “a very serious insinuation.”

In the course of the OPW presentation, Dr Lennox pointed out that both the northern and southern parts of Co Monaghan would have benefited enormously from arterial drainage programmes carried out since 1945.  Without these schemes, the county would be a very different place to what it was today.

Dr Lennox said a criticism had often been made that there was no single authority looking after waterways in the country.  Following recent reviews, the OPW had set about looking at the establishment of a catchment basis approach for flood management and flood assessment.

Referring to the 2007 Brussels Flood Assessment and Management Directive, the OPW representative said that Ireland was one of the first countries to have transposed this document.  It set out that there should be one single authority in the country with absolute responsibility for the assessment and management of flood risk, and in Ireland this was to be the OPW.

Dr Lennox said the Directive conferred massive powers on the OPW, but also brought with it massive responsibility to exercise these powers in a responsible manner.  Noting that priority would be given in the future to flood control methods that would not involve structural solutions, he pointed out that the powers given to the OPW included provision for compulsory purchase and massive penalties for non-compliance.  The OPW had also been given powers to enter on to land where it felt it was necessary to do so.  The powers might seem quite draconian, but the OPW believed they were very realistic, very open and very honest with the people they dealt with.

Full report in the Northern Standard

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