Irish government backs simple alternative to sand bags

A cheap and simple flood defence system that bills itself as an alternative to sand bags has managed to gain official Ministerial backing in Ireland.

Michael Finneran, Minister for Housing and Local Services, put out an official statement this week in support of a product produced by a Roscommon company.

The area was hard-hit by the floods that plagued Ireland last year and Mr Finneran praised that fact that local solutions were being developed.

The Big Bag System, developed Global Flood Solutions, uses giant open-topped bags which can be put in position before being filled with sand to create a defensive levee at short notice.

Their manufacturers claim that they are better than sand bags on a number of points - they are much faster to deploy, with each bag equivalent to hundreds of sandbags and the sand itself can be reused - which is not the case with traditional sandbags.

Speaking at the product launch, the Minister paid tribute to the staff of local authorities and other statutory and voluntary bodies for their response to last November's flooding.

The Big Bag System is designed to be installed in a rapid and easily way at any location which is threatened by rising flood waters.

The Minister added that the Government are involved in long term solutions to reduce the risk of future flooding through the carrying out of Flood Risk Assessment and Management Studies for major rivers.

The Office of Public Works expect to commission the Shannon Flood Risk Assessment Study this year.

The Minister said the Office of Public Works has allocated nearly €3.5 million to counties Galway, Longford, Westmeath, Leitrim and Roscommon for minor works and studies this year to address localised flooding issues.

He added that as the effects of climate change accelerate and intensify, Ireland must be prepared to respond rapidly to flood events with easily installed flood defences while longer term solutions are adopted and implemented to reduce risk of future flooding events.

David Gibbs



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