Tuesday 20 March 2018

Pace of work on promised flood defences still achingly slow

A worker removes debris from River Bandon in Co Cork yesterday in the clean-up operation following Storm Desmond
A worker removes debris from River Bandon in Co Cork yesterday in the clean-up operation following Storm Desmond
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The Government has pledged to spend as much money in the next six years as it has done in the previous 20 to make up for chronic underinvestment in flood defence measures.

Some €430m has been earmarked for flood defences between now and 2021, compared with €410m invested in the past two decades.

While there has been a ramping up of activity by successive governments since the disastrous floods of November 2009, the pace or work has still been achingly slow for the communities affected.

Around 30 major schemes are still only at the planning stage and several areas which have borne the brunt of the flooding in the past decade remain at risk.

Much of the activity in recent years has been in the area of studies rather than the building of flood defences.

Since 2011 a Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAMS) project has been examining current and future flood risks in different parts of the county. It is not set to be completed until next year.

It has identified 300 areas at potential significant risk around the country.

The Office of Public Works has said it has not been waiting for the CFRAMS project to be fully completed before intervening and that it has already set about tackling some of the highest risk areas.

Clonmel, Co Tipperary

The town has experienced significant flooding at least six times since 1995.

A €40m flood defence scheme, involving walls along the length of the River Suir through the town centre and berms on the town fringes, was completed in 2013. Flood defence walls can be made higher thanks to mountable barriers which can be placed on top of the walls.

Ennis, Co Clare

An €11.5m flood relief scheme for part of the town was completed in 2010. More works, which began in 2013, are substantially completed.

However, doubts remain about the adequacy of the town's defences, with Storm Desmond causing considerable anxiety as water levels rose in the River Fergus. A further scheme focusing on the south of the town is expected to be constructed next year.

Fermoy, Co Cork

The town has had a long history of flooding with the River Blackwater bursting its banks approximately 15 times in the course of 30 years.

Long awaited flood defence works costing €32m, which first went out to public consultation in 2005, were completed in 2011. A second phase of construction work began in March 2012 and was completed last year.

Bray, Co Wicklow

Work is under way on a River Dargle flood defence scheme costing €40m.

But the project has been beset by delays. It began in March 2012 and was expected to take two years.

However, a dispute arose between Wicklow County Council and the contractor, which subsequently entered examinership. The contract was terminated in November 2013.

The remaining work is now being completed in phases and is due to finish late next year.

Bandon, Co Cork

The town experienced its worst flooding since 2009 last weekend.

There have been considerable delays in planned €10m flood defence works after a legal challenge was brought to a previous procurement process.

The OPW says the contract is currently at tender stage again.

Claregalway, Co Galway

The town experienced flooding in the past week.

A €7m scheme was recently approved by Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin and work is likely to begin early next year.

Blackpool/Lower Lee (Cork City)

These areas which have seen repeated flooding down through the years.

Plans for works went out to public consultation last month.

Irish Independent

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