Posted by Dara Bradley, Connacht Tribune in News.

Too much red- tape and civil servants ‘dropping the ball’ will cause further delay to a drainage scheme, necessary for flood prevention in parts of County Galway. The River Clare Drainage Scheme in Claregalway will be delayed by at least six months due to uncertainty over new laws that were passed to comply with European union directives.

It means that homes and businesses that were damaged by floods in 2009, remain at risk of another flooding disaster until this bureaucratic mess is sorted. The scheme was approved earlier this Spring and work was due to have started by now. In 2012, the Department of Public Expenditure introduced legislation to comply with EU Directives.

This, however, has now led to uncertainty over whether the environmental impact assessments (EIAs) associated with infrastructure projects such as drainage schemes need to be carried out independently by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

It means that a complete review of the Clare River EIA and EIS (environmental impact statement) will have to be carried out to make sure scheme complies with EU law. Galway West Fine Gael TD Sean Kyne said the Government “has no choice” but to carry out the review, which will cause a delay.

He described the scenario as “bureaucracy gone mad.”

His party and constituency colleague, Deputy Brian Walsh laid the blame at the door of civil servants and said someone in the department “dropped the ball”. Deputy Kyne said: “It is disappointing that these legal difficulties have delayed what is a vital project for the Claregalway area. The delay is causing concern for residents of the area who have been impacted by flooding before, such as the devastating floods of 2009 as well as by residents who may be affected in the event of any future flooding.

The EU Environmental Directives are often important measures aimed at conservation and protection but it’s clear in this case that the directives have created unnecessary uncertainty and are now delaying vital drainage improvements and flood defence works.”