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  • Writer's picturePippa Hackett

Shannon Callows: Better Maintenance, Long-term Engineering, Action & Understanding - Key to progress

Senator Pippa Hackett visits Shannon Callows with OPW Minister

Calls for better maintenance as well as long-term engineering

Stresses that action AND understanding are key to progress

Senator Pippa Hackett made a fact-finding visit to the Shannon Callows yesterday (29th July, 2021). With officials from Waterways Ireland and the OPW.

She travelled by boat from Banagher to Meelick Weir, before meeting with farmers from the IFA and Save our Shannon.

Speaking after the trip which was facilitated by Minister O’Donovan and the Office of Public Works, the Minister said:

“This was a really valuable visit, during which it became clear to me that there are different issues which need clarification, as well as action. I realised that while everyone affected by multi-year summer flooding wants action on ‘pinch-points’, there are different interpretations as to what these are.

“Both interpretations need addressing. The first – those pinch points along the river bed, which if removed from the navigation channel, will in turn allow for the water level, controlled for navigation, to be lowered.” Minister O’Donovan has committed to this work, but recognises it is a long term project.

“The second interpretation of pinch points refers to the build-up of silt and vegetation visible above the water level at various locations. I understand that the management of these falls into the remit of the OPW maintenance programme, and I have asked Minister O’Donovan to provide to me an update on the current status of this maintenance programme.

“This is about balancing needs, and it needs to be done fairly. The River Shannon is important for tourism, but it also has impacts on farmers and biodiversity, and we need to get that right. I also however accepted the OPW’s view that while maintenance or larger works may act to delay a flood, they are unlikely to prevent it altogether.”

The visit was MOS Hackett’s second one to the River Shannon Callows area in recent months but her first with Minister O’Donovan. Referring to the opportunity to interact with him and his officials, she said:

“I am grateful to have seen and heard first-hand the efforts that are underway by Minister O’Donovan’s department to mitigate the more frequent summer flooding.”

Minister Hackett concluded “This summer flooding, no longer once in 100 years, or even once in a generation, is compounded by climate change and has a direct negative impact on livelihoods and biodiversity, specifically in the area that concerns me most, West Offaly. I will continue to work with farmers with a focus on solutions to a rapidly changing situation.”

Image shows Minister O’Donovan and Minister Hackett at Victoria Lough with Waterways Ireland official.


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