Local TD Denis Naughten has been informed that the Government will consider a proposal to establish a national wetlands park in the North Midlands, which would also alleviate the scale of flooding from the River Shannon.
Minister Jimmy Deenihan has agreed to have the proposal evaluated as a result of representations from Denis Naughten.
“We are all aware of the fact that the River Shannon will not be drained but by using other innovative solutions, like the creation of a wetlands park on the banks of the river north of Lough Ree, it can offer hope to communities in the catchment of the river basin,” stated Denis Naughten.
“It is now over two years since communities along the Shannon suffered devastating flooding yet few people in the catchment area are confident that the same situation could not arise again. A national wetlands park, situated in the north midlands, could be flooded during the winter period to provide enhanced water storage between Lough Allen and Lough Ree.
“Such a park would help to alleviate flooding in the Shannon basin by extending the flood plain to a potential extra 18,000 acres just north of Lough Ree. This would naturally flood up to 4.5m in depth and thereby help to alleviate the threat of flooding to the towns of Carrick-on-Shannon and Athlone.
“In addition, this project would not cost the taxpayer one cent as the lands are already in the ownership of Bord na Mona, which has completed a feasibility study on the project in conjunction with the local community and UCD. This is a pro-active step and a constructive solution to severe flooding threats in the Shannon basin which destroy farmland, isolate communities and damage the natural habitats of wildlife.
“We need to treat the people of the Shannon basin with a bit of dignity, take the flooding problem seriously and look at new ways to address this historic problem. Over the last 10 months I have worked closely with Minister Brian Hayes and, as a result, the Office of Public Works has commenced work on cleaning debris from the River Shannon, south of Banagher, along with assisting with flood relief works on the catchment of the river.
“While it is a small step, it is at least some positive action. In addition, one simple solution which could help the situation, particularly in Carrick-on-Shannon, is better management of the operation of Lough Allen and the provision of additional storage capacity south of Carrick,” concluded Deputy Naughten.