Monday 22 October 2018

Minister sees stark reality of Arklow's diminishing coastline

Minister gives commitment to Arklow coastal flood defences

Arklow man Pat Fortune making his point to Minister Moran, Deputy Pat Casey and Cllr Pat Fitzgerald at Arklow’s North Beach
Arklow man Pat Fortune making his point to Minister Moran, Deputy Pat Casey and Cllr Pat Fitzgerald at Arklow’s North Beach
Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran with Deputies John Brady, Pat Casey and Stephen Donnelly at Arklow’s North Beach
The beach in 1990

Deborah Coleman

Arklow has received a commitment from the Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, that the urgently required flood defence works on the North Beach will be the focus of his department's attentions.

Following a tour of the area, in somewhat blustery and wet weather conditions yesterday (Tuesday), Minister Moran was briefed by Arklow Municipal District and local politicians as to the urgent need for coastal protection works to be installed.

Wicklow County Council engineer Robert Mulhall outlined the situation to the Minister and updated him on various unsuccessful attempts to secure funding for the works, despite previous commitments from the Office of Public Works.

It is understood that Department officials will meet with local council officials within two weeks in an attempt to progress matters.

While no timeline or funding figure was agreed, local councillor Pat Fitzgerald said that, in his view, it was a positive meeting.

'I was very impressed with the Minister and he gave more commitment than I have heard previously. It was not about politics and he said that he would like to see something permanent done here in Arklow,' said Cllr Fitzgerald.

'I think everyone came away with the same opinion. The Minister was very well briefed on the situation in Arklow as well as the planned sewage treatment plant and he was very interested to see the entire area which could be affected if flood defences are not installed,' he said.

According to Deputy Pat Casey, the works are badly needed and, along with proposed works at The Murrough in Wicklow town, would represent 'value for money'.

'There is cross-party political agreement in Wicklow on the need for both towns to be upgraded and the public expenditure involved would represent value for money as both Wicklow and Arklow are important urban areas with significant infrastructure that needs protection. I am hopeful that Minister Moran will now be able to seek the support that he needs from his colleagues in Government. Both towns need to see action on this and I will be continuing to work with Minister Moran and our Councillors in Wicklow and Arklow to ensure that this happens,' he said.

Meanwhile, the engineer who designed the original North Beach coastal protection works 28 years ago, says that the present problems are caused because the second of two stages was never carried out.

Jimmy Byrne outlined that the storm barrier which was installed after the storm of December 1989, was originally meant to be followed by the installation of a groyne 250 metres seaward from the shore of the beach.

'Stage 2 was never constructed because the funds were not provided by the relevant government department. A detailed study of the coastal processes in Arklow Bay was carried out in 1991 by the Danish Hydraulics Institute. This report emphasised the necessity to prevent erosion of sand from the North Beach and confirmed such erosion could be prevented by construction a groyne at the north end of the beach,' he said.

Mr Byrne said that if the groyne is not constructed, further erosion will undermine the foundations of the works.

'It will also result in higher waves reaching the rock slope before they break, thus causing further damage to the works,' he said.

Mr Byrne estimates that the groyne could be constructed for a cost of €800,000 and, if progressed in the immediate future, could be completed by November 2019.

'It is clear that action is needed in the near future if the failure of the storm barrier is to be prevented. Why wait until failure occurs and homes and businesses are flooded? I believe there is no justification either social or economic to postpone what we know to be the solution to the problem.'

Wicklow People