The Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group at its meeting in Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim on 2 December, 2016 took a major decision to develop a plan for a strategic maintenance programme on the River Shannon. Programmed maintenance works have not been carried out on the Shannon for a significant period of time and silt and vegetation has built up which impacts on the river’s conveyance capacity. The Shannon Flood Risk Group, which is led by the OPW, considers that maintenance works on the Shannon are essential to halt the deterioration of the river channel. It recognises that the carrying out of strategic maintenance works on the Shannon will be problematic and in bringing forward its plans, the Group will be addressing all of the necessary legal, environmental, technical and other considerations that arise. It intends to bring together all of the relevant stakeholders to discuss, initiate and manage the development of this programme.
Séan Canney, T.D., Minister for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief attended the meeting and said” The OPW already maintains over 11,500 km of river channel and over 700km of embankments protecting some 650,000 acres of agricultural land. I am delighted that the Group, which is chaired by the OPW, has taken the decision to develop a plan for strategic maintenance works on the River Shannon. There have been many calls for a maintenance programme to be put in place for the Shannon. A planned maintenance programme for the Shannon would complement the Group’s Work Programme and the specific measures that are identified for the areas at risk in the Draft Shannon Flood Risk Management Plan. The Flood Risk Management Plans are a major step forward to help Government make informed investment decisions on flood risk management and for which the Government has provided €430 million in the Capital Investment Plan 2016 to 2021”.
The Minister went on to say “This is very positive news and comes on top of the decisions by the Group at its last meeting to trial the lowering of the lake levels in Lough Allen to help mitigate potential flood risk for this Winter and to evaluate the benefits from any short and medium term programme of localised dredging and any future piloting to remove some pinch points along the Shannon”.
The Minister concluded “The Shannon Flood Risk Group was established by the Government earlier this year to bring about the greatest level of co-ordination and co-operation between all of the statutory bodies involved in the management of the River Shannon. The decisions taken by the Group to date clearly demonstrate that it is working well and is firmly focused on finding practical solutions that will help reduce flood risk on the Shannon to the benefit of the communities along our largest river. The results of this cutting-edge project will inform consideration of rolling out a similar management model for other river basins”.