Seanad debates

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Flood Risk Management

2:30 pm

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick County, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the opportunity to provide an update to the House on the progress being made on the Dundalk, Blackrock south and Ardee flood relief scheme. As the Senator knows, I visited County Louth to learn more about the flooding in the county and the plans the Office of Public Works has to manage the risk. I am aware of the impact of flooding on homeowners, businesses and communities in the area.

Through the catchment flood risk assessment and management, CFRAM, flood programme, a detailed engineering analysis assessment and extensive public consultation were undertaken for over 300 communities throughout the country, including 90 coastal areas which include the eastern part of County Louth. One key output of the CFRAM programme was the flood risk management plans that contain proposed flood relief measures informed by costs, benefits and environmental factors to address the flood risk in each at-risk community nationwide. The evidence provided by the CFRAM programme was launched in 2018 and supports the Government's €1.3 billion investment programme. It is delivered through the national development plan. A total of 118 flood relief projects were identified to protect the main flood risk areas throughout the country. These include the proposed schemes for County Louth, which are Dundalk, Blackrock south, Drogheda, Carlingford, Greenore, Baltray and Ardee. Louth County Council, working with the Office of Public Works, has agreed to be the lead authority in the delivery of these schemes. The council chairs each project steering group, which includes the Office of Public Works and local authority representatives.

The Dundalk, Blackrock south and Ardee projects that are being progressed simultaneously were chosen by the council as the first projects to be advanced in County Louth. The CFRAM proposed flood relief scheme for Dundalk-Blackrock south would consist of the construction of a series of hard defences, including embankments and walls, rock armour coastal protection, demountable barriers, raising the road, a sluice gate and tanking of two properties. The proposed measure for Ardee consists of flood embankments and walls at an average height of 0.8 m and a total length of approximately 600 m. Both schemes will provide the protection required by the insurance industry and will be adaptable for future climate change scenarios.

The development of the flood relief schemes involve five distinct sequential and related stages. The stages involve assessing the flood risk and identifying options, planning, detailed design, construction and maintenance. Where it is possible, the project management of scheme delivery involves running some of the stages in parallel to expedite delivery, such as detailed design when planning permission is being sought. The cost for the Dundalk and Ardee schemes is approximately €80.9 million. The tender for the engineering consultancy services for the project was awarded to Binnies, formerly Black and Veatch, and Nicholas O'Dwyer as a joint venture in 2020. The proposed flood relief schemes for these areas will protect 1,880 properties when completed, 1,705 residential and 175 commercial. These are enormous schemes.

Currently, the Dundalk-Blackrock south and Ardee schemes project is at stage 1. This includes the collation of hydrology and hydraulics, the development of an options report for the preferred and viable scheme, and the preparation of associated environmental considerations as set out in the environmental impact assessment report.The steering group for the project meets monthly and the scheme development is ongoing, with work progressing on surveys on hydrology and hydraulics report schemes options and environmental assessments. The detailed programme for the scheme schedules that stage 1 will be completed in quarter 1 of 2023. The following stage will be to complete the necessary planning for the preferred scheme through the planning and development Acts. The programme for the scheme estimates that, subject to there being no challenges or delays, which is important, the post-planning stage and construction of the works will commence in 2024 and take three years to complete.


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