Dáil debates

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Topical Issue Debate

Flood Prevention Measures

6:15 pm

Photo of Noel HarringtonNoel Harrington (Cork South West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Ceann Comhairle's office for selecting this issue. I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Harris, and I thank him with regard to events over the weekend. One of his officials was in west Cork in the late hours of Saturday and the early hours of Sunday morning monitoring the situation, which was very welcome. The Minister of State is here representing the Minister, Deputy Howlin. Even though some of the schemes we have in west Cork are at a very late stage in terms of confirmation, they will begin, I hope, in the coming months. There have been some pitfalls that should be dealt with for communities that have been hard hit recently, particularly those in Bandon and Skibbereen in west Cork.

The development of a flood relief scheme involves prioritisation, selection, public consultation, design, another public consultation, an environmental impact statement, procurement, independent evaluation of the first environmental statement, confirmation and the appointment of a contractor, and then the project begins and takes another two years. Every single community throughout the country, and not just Bandon and Skibbereen, has a feeling of huge exasperation with the entire process of delivering flood relief schemes, which we understand are very complex. I am not standing here today to say that any of these stages are not necessary, because we have signed up to conventions such as the Aarhus Convention, which provides for public consultation, and we cannot steam over public objections where they are appropriate, but I often get the feeling that we are gilding the lily on this one in terms of procuring schemes. There are many consecutive stages, whereby one cannot start until the other has finished. I ask the Minister of State to ask the Minister Public Expenditure and Reform to allow concurrence in the stages to minimise the delays in delivering these schemes. The information for any community beginning the process is that it will take five years from the minute it is confirmed before construction will even begin.


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