Denis Naughten TD is calling for Bord na Móna to become an integral part of the flood relief planning for the Rivers Shannon and Suck due to the unique skills available to the company.
Speaking in Clonown at the weekend Denis Naughten said: “By allowing cut away bogs located North of Lough Ree, South of Athlone and within the catchment of both the Suck and Brosna Rivers to flood naturally it would help to reduce the overall height and duration within the Shannon and Suck basins.
“Without delay we must identify and make available areas of bogland along the River Shannon which are suitable to be utilised as flood plains at times of increased water flow. We also need to explore the potential to use these flood plains to store water that can be used for different purposes (extraction of drinking water) without negatively impacting the river.
“A proposal for flooding boglands – some up to a depth of 4.5m – which has the support of Bord na Móna, has already been submitted to Government for approximately 18,000 acres just north of Lough Ree in East Roscommon and Longford, known as the Mount Dillon complex.
“But Bord na Móna can also assist with the removal of silt and peat that has built up in the Rivers Shannon and Suck. In particular there is a serious blockage in flow of the River Shannon between Banagher and Meelick, which is forcing both the Shannon and Suck to back up and compounding the scale of the flooding problem.
“This blockage also restricts the ability of the ESB to drop water levels in Lough Ree in advance of promised heavy rainfall, because the river channel south of Athlone has a restricted capacity to take this water.
“We must declare the removal of silt from the river Shannon, its tributaries and the waters feeding into it an immediate priority and put procedures in place to begin desiltation without delay.
“Bord na Móna with its staff, equipment, flexible rail network and accessible cutaway bog is in an ideal position to be the lead agency in the removal of peat and silt from the Shannon basin,” concluded Denis Naughten.