Fianna Fail Deputy for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy has called on Roscommon County Council to ensure that all planning regulations in relation to the Sliabh Ban wind turbine development have been adhered to as part of the investigations into the recent flash floods in the area.
Deputy Murphy raised the issue of the flash floods in the Sliabh Ban area under the Topical Issues business of the Dail yester evening (Tuesday) when he directly questioned Minister of State Damien English in relation to the matter. The Fianna Fail Deputy is a native of Scramogue, which is one of the affected areas, said that torrential rain in County Roscommon and some adjoining counties has caused widespread damage to a number of homes, roads and bridges particularly in areas such as Strokestown, Curraghroe, Doughill, Tarmonbarry, Scramogue and Culliagh.
“Flash floods have hit many communities who are just trying to recover from the heavy rainfall of 2015 and late 2016. Last Wednesday night I spent two hours visiting neighbours whose homes were affected. This is a nightmare situation for families and homeowners and many communities are still only trying to get back on their feet,” said Deputy Murphy.
Deputy Murphy said that the possibility of the fast flow of water down Sliabh Ban mountain having been impacted by the Coillte Wind Farm development needed to be fully investigated. He said that Coillte had gone through a full planning process which included An Bord Pleanala and he stressed it would be wrong to make any accusations until all the facts had been fully established.
Deputy Murphy acknowledged the plight of affected homeowners and he noted that he had never witnessed such a deluge of rain in his lifetime in the Sliabh Ban area.
“Roscommon County Council has commenced their investigations into the matter and I am calling on the council to ensure that every regulation in relation to the wind turbine planning permission has been fully adhered to and that every regulation and stipulation under the Planning and Development Act was carried out. I have also been assured that Coillte has begun the process of meeting people on an individual basis.”
Deputy Eugene Murphy also pointed out that Roscommon County Council require in the region of €11 million to repair the damage caused by the previous winter flooding to ensure that such devastation does not reoccur throughout the county yet only €4.5 million has been allocated which he said was “wholly inadequate.”
“There are a total of 133 different areas throughout County Roscommon which are still affected by flooding and many homeowners and business owners are becoming increasingly frustrated as they are fast becoming a forgotten story,” warned Deputy Murphy.
The Fianna Fail Deputy who is also a qualified horticulturist noted that the planting of broadleaf native trees on Sliabh Ban would be more appropriate than the existing firs and spruce trees but he also pointed out that much of the existing forestry had been planted on the mountain in the 1960’s. Deputy Murphy also noted that his mother had grown up in the area and had never witnessed such flooding while the also pointed out that Met Eireann concurred that a record level of rain had fallen in the area on the night of the deluge.
Deputy Murphy also noted that the significant investment in the development of a community park on Sliabh ban mountain would make the area more accessible to families and the wider public.
“Plans include a trim trail for fitness, an equestrian trail, six looped walks, a raised viewing platform, and a new picnic area, and it is hoped to have all these amenities open to the public in 2017. Sliabh Ban is really an extraordinary place to be and the park will really open up this fantastic mountain to the public. Information points in relation to the Marian Cross which was built in the mid-1950s on the mountain will also be provided which celebrates the culture and tradition in the area,” said Eugene Murphy.
The Community Fund, which will total over €2.1 million, will be available each year over the 25 year lifetime of the wind farm to local community projects and initiatives.