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Council may have to let coastal property ‘fall into the sea’


Councillors told lack of funding will result in some coastal areas being prioritised over others

Anton McNulty

COUNCILLORS were warned that coastal communities will have to be prioritised over others when it comes to coastal protection as a result of the reality of climate change.
The grim forecast was made by Peter Hynes, Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, at last week’s monthly meeting of the Council, where coastal flooding was raised. Mayo has the longest coastline of any county in Ireland, and Mr Hynes warned that in the future, it may not be feasible to put protections in some areas.
“We are going to be in a position relatively soon, where the UK have been in for some time, and they decided some years ago that it is not possible to protect all private property along the coast and they have allowed private property fall into the sea. That is what we are looking at, like it or not.
“There will be priorities chosen on what gets protected and what doesn’t. We have the longest coastline in the country and we can only protect what we get the funding for. We can apply for the funding, but we are going to be in this position, and that is the reality of climate change that is coming at us,” he told the councillors at the meeting.
Mr Hynes made the comments after Independent councillor John O’Malley demanded that money be provided to protect coastal areas from flooding. He raised the problem of the sea breaching a coastal wall at Rossanrubble near Newport, where water is flooding land, including land planted with trees by local people.
The Carrowholly-based councillor said that the west of Ireland will be a ‘sad’ place if funding is not made available to protect homes and land.
“The problem is getting greater and greater with every tide, and we have to get money or we will just not bother doing anything. If we don’t get the money to protect people’s property the water will soon be near people’s houses. Unless we get funding from the Office of Public Works we are going to have a sad west of Ireland in the future … we are going to have to make a demand for it. This is going to get worse and worse,” he lamented.
Mr Hynes’s warning comes weeks after a US report on the climate crisis revealed that large parts of coastal Mayo will be under risk of flooding by 2050.
The research, which was carried out by the Climate Central science organisation in New Jersey and which was published in the journal Nature Communications and in The New York Times, shows that rising seas could affect three times more people by 2050 than previously thought.

Harnessing the Moy
Meanwhile, Mr Hynes agreed with a suggestion that the River Moy at Ballina should be used to harness energy for the town. The suggestion was made by Ballina-based Independent Mark Duffy, who said there was huge potential to tap into the energy of the Moy.
“I am on the board of the Ballina Arts Centre and work has been done by the chairperson there, who sees an opportunity of being able to power the arts centre through the energy created by the River Moy.
“There is a company in Cork who do it and we should be a leader to supply energy into the grid. I call on Mayo County Council to work with the Ballina Arts Centre and tap into the potential of the River Moy,” he said.
Mr Hynes replied that ‘the potential of generating power from the Moy is something we should be looking at’.