John Power

Deputy Brian O’Shea on a recent visit to Knockaveelish, Woodstown, where a scenic area of mature woodland has suffered substantial damage. | Photo: John Power

Land and With property and infrastructure in Tramore, Ballyvoile, Helvick, Cunnigar, Dungarvan, Bunmahon, Ballyvoile, Woodstown and Passage East at serious risk, Waterford TD Brian O’Shea has welcomed the transfer of responsibility for coastal protection to the Office of Public Works and repeated his call for immediate and effective action to curb the county’s dramatically worsening erosion problem.

He recently asked the Minister for Finance how much money and staff will be transferred from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to the OPW this year to help combat coastal erosion, and was told negotiations are underway.

The Tramore Deputy is adamant that “a swift and positive” response is needed, given that the County Waterford coast “has been severely undefended for years and the amount of money available for this vital work under the National Development Plan for the entire country, would not, in my opinion, be sufficient to do the work needed on the County Waterford coast alone.”

Pointing to Waterford County Council’s inability to come up with the 25 per cent local contribution required for very expensive but absolutely essential coast protection works, due to its restricted commercial rates base, the Labour Party chairman says the Government must find the money somewhere or the consequences for communities will be dire.

“Due to exceedingly heavy rainfall and exceptionally severe storms at sea, which may be due to global warming, the Waterford coast has taken a particularly bad pounding of late. I recently visited Woodstown where a scenic area of mature woodland at Knockaveelish has suffered substantial damage and where local property-owners are concerned that the rate of collapse of land along the waterfront has also increased dramatically in recent years. I understand that there is also substantial land-loss further up the estuary in the vicinity of Geneva Strand,” he says.

Other areas along Waterford’s ‘soft’ coastline under immediate threat include Helvick, Ring, the Cunnigar, Bonmahon, Ballyvoile, Woodstown and Tramore. “Dungarvan is also at serious and constant risk of flooding because the Cunnigar is being reduced at an alarming rate,” Mr O’Shea stressed. In October 2005, the strip of land located at the mouth of Dungarvan harbour was seriously damaged by storms and was placed in the ‘high risk’ category.

Despite the ailing economy, Brian insists “it is now time to have this important work carried out before County Waterford suffers irreversible damage from flooding, storms, siltation and the sea and I intend to pursue this matter until the necessary action is taken.”