Seanad debates

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Flood Risk Management

2:30 pm

Photo of John McGahonJohn McGahon (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Minister of State for being here to take my Commencement debate. The fact that he, as the Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, is here shows his commitment to this flooding project in my part of the world. I also thank him for engaging with Louth County Council, particularly last summer when he came to see the projects directly, to sign off on them, and to make sure they were kept on track.

We have seen a number of notable flooding events, especially in the Dundalk and Blackrock areas in 2008, 2014, 2016 and two years ago in 2020. These areas are at very significant risk of coastal flooding. We have seen that future risks of flooding have increased because of a whole variety of things, with climate change being just one of them. Dundalk and Blackrock are areas of natural low lying topography. Such areas are an issue because they call for a much more sensitive approach to be adopted in flood relief schemes and the type of construction necessary. For example, the proposed flood relief scheme for both Dundalk and Blackrock south consists of the construction of a series of hard defences, including flood embankments, walls, rock armour, coastal protection, barriers, road raising and the tanking of two properties. When such work goes ahead, it will protect more than 1,800 residential properties.

I wish to raise another important point. There is huge ambition to create a greenway that stretches from Carlingford to Dundalk to Blackrock and onwards.However, I wish to refer to the Bellurgan to Dundalk to Blackrock greenway. It cannot go ahead or we cannot do anything about it until this project has reached a certain stage. Once it has reached a certain area, we can then start applying to the Government for funding for greenways. A greenway along this area would be very important for tourism, but it will not happen until this project is brought to a certain level. It would be good to know at what stage in this process the Minister of State believes Louth County Council can start applying for funding for a greenway and where it can do that when it comes to the flood defences.

The other thing that interests me is the Minister of State's overall view of what the timelines are. I realise these are long-term projects and that they are not done overnight. It is now 2022 so if all goes well, what does the Minister of State envision as the completion date? Is it 2025 or as far as 2026? A very detailed public consultation took place last October, which is very important as well.

Substantial funding has been allocated for these areas. This project is worth between €80 million and €90 million. The Blackrock south one is included with the Ardee project, and there is substantial funding from the Government and the Department. It is an important project that we must ensure gets over the line. I am interested to hear the Minister of State's views on the timelines.


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