The Fermoy flood relief project is on track for completion in 2014, with no major problems reported. (Photo: Declan Howard)

The OPW will be asked to outline whether or not the insurance cover they possess against the failure of the flood protection scheme in Fermoy could be used to compensate businesses and residents in the area who have difficulty in getting insurance themselves despite the fact the flood scheme has been completed.

Councillors in the northern division of Cork County Council will write to the OPW who look after flood schemes across the country, to ascertain what type of insurance cover it has if the flood barriers in Fermoy fail, and whether or not this cover includes local businesses and residents.

Cllr Noel McCarthy, speaking in Mallow last week, expressed his frustration that many locals are unable to get insurance cover despite the fact that the OPW spent almost €38 million on flood barriers along the River Blackwater in Fermoy, along with almost €37 million in Mallow, and that both schemes have proven to have been successful.

“We know in Fermoy, it’s probably the same in Mallow, that business people and residents cannot get cover from any insurance company, or if they do get a quote, it’s unaffordable,” he said.

David Keane, director of water services, added that the council are themselves seeking insurance against the failure of the flood barriers.

“The OPW are the main body responsible for flood schemes such as Mallow and Fermoy and other larger schemes, and they are fully insured themselves against any failure of those schemes. What we’re looking for is to protect the council for failure where we assist the OPW in maintaining and operating the defences. So if something happened due to our own negligence, which I know would never happen but just in case, then we need to be protected against that and that’s what we’re looking for,” Mr Keane said.

Regarding Cllr McCarthy’s point that if the OPW has insurance cover against the failure of the flood barriers and would that cover local businesses and residents, Mr Keane said he would write to the OPW and seek clarity on this point.

Also relating to the completion of the flood protection scheme in Fermoy, Cllr Frank O’Flynn expressed his concerns over the reluctance of council planners to zone land in Fermoy, even though the town has been flood protected.

He made particular reference to the Old Mart site in the town, which continues to be used as a car park.