Wexford County Council has been given the green light to seek planning permission for essential flood works at Our Lady's Island that will cost in the region of €1.5 million. The news was confirmed by Minister of State for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Kevin Boxer Moran while on a visit to Enniscorthy on Friday.
Minister Paul Kehoe said that the project was 'a long time coming' and that he was delighted to see progress finally made.
'Basically, this is going to be a collaboration between the OPW, Wexford County Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Service,' Minister Kehoe said. 'I'm delighted that Minister Kevin Boxer Moran gave the green light this morning for things to go to the planning phase.'
'It's hugely important news and will be greatly welcomed by the local community.'
Local councillors Ger Carthy and Jim Moore, both of whom are on the Lady's Island Drainage Committee, described the move as a massive step in the right direction for the local area.
'This problem has been there years,' said Cllr Carthy, whose father Leo also served on the committee.
'Basically, all the water runs off the land and fills the lake up. This causes problems and the lake barrier has to be breached on a regular basis to keep the lake at a manageable level. It's been long mooted to get an engineering solution to this problem and over the past three or four years we've been working with engineers to come up with a plan.'
'I met with Boxer Moran last year and I've been lobbying him on it ever since. We've had a lot of false dawns in relation to this, but I believe that this is a major step forward.'
The solution is to be the construction of some kind of automated tunnel that will enable water to be let in and out of the lake and the project is to be headed up by Wexford County Council.
'This really is very good news,' said Cllr Moore. 'The issue has always been how to meet environmental requirements and at the same time manage the levels in the lake without discommoding farmers, fishermen and the parish who have their pilgrimage there.'
'We've taken rudimentary measures with the cutting of the lake each year, but this is very limited in it's management and there's health and safety issues and issues over long-term viability there. This issue is going on fifty years or more.'