Thursday, 4 July 2019
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
Flood Relief Schemes Status
I thank the Minister of State for making time available to deal with this matter. The seventh anniversary of the flooding of Meadowbrook in Glanmire was on 28 June. More than 60 houses and businesses were flooded. That flooding was 4 ft to 5 ft high in some parts of the estate. Many houses were severely damaged. The situation now is that it is impossible to get insurance for those houses and they have been devalued. The damage cost people much money and brought them a great deal of grief as well. The county council has done much work in preparing a flood relief programme for the Glashaboy river. It carried out an environmental impact study, which was furnished to the Minister of State's Department. I acknowledge that this project has to go through procedures and the environmental impact study has to be reviewed.
When he was here previously, the Minister of State gave his full support to funding being allocated for the remedial work to be carried out. We still have had no sign of that money being assigned. Even if the funding was allocated today, it would be necessary to invite tenders. That will take another three to four months. It will then take another month or two to sign the contracts while the work itself will probably take a year to complete. If we agreed to the funding today, it would probably still be February or March of next year before any work would start. This issue is a priority for the people in the area, for the families living in Meadowbrook in Glanmire, for the immediate Glanmire area and for those businesses that suffered damage as a result of that flooding. I am wondering about the current status of the project.
I thank Senator Burke for raising this matter and I am pleased to provide an update on the Glashaboy flood relief scheme, Glanmire, County Cork. He has raised this matter with me before and I am pleased to say that good progress is being made to advance this much-needed scheme.
As the Senator will know, the locations identified in this scheme include Sallybrook Industrial Estate, Hazelwood Shopping Centre, Meadowbrook housing estate, Butlerstown, Glenmore and from Glanmire Bridge to O'Callaghan Park. Following detailed assessment by the consultants, a number of measures were identified to address flood risk in the area, including direct defences such as walls and earth embankments, culvert upgrades, flood relief culverts, channel widening and road regrading. The scheme will benefit 103 properties in total of which 78 are residential properties and 25 are commercial premises. Two public information days were held in February 2014 and February 2015. Following the development of the options and preparation of the necessary environmental and engineering reports, a formal exhibition of the proposed Glashaboy flood relief scheme took place in November and December 2016, which showed the preferred option developed by the design team.
The Office of Public Works has submitted the Glashaboy flood relief scheme to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for formal confirmation under the Arterial Drainage Acts. The Minister will undertake an environmental assessment of the proposed scheme over the coming months. The assessment will be in line with required legislative requirements and will involve a public consultation. Cork County Council will progress the appointment of a contractor for this scheme following ministerial confirmation.
I praise Senator Burke on the work that he has done not only on behalf of the residents and the people he represents but also on the work that he has done with my Department, and we work closely with the county council. This is an ongoing flood scheme that he brought to my attention. This Government is very much committed and very much to the forefront in putting funding in place. I have read recent reports saying that because there was a cut in funding for my Department money may go towards the children's hospital. I assure the Senator that the money has been ring-fenced for this scheme. I assure him and the people he represents that that is the case.
Since I took up this job two years ago I have put huge emphasis on the Glashaboy scheme. As the Senator will know, I have brought the scheme to the attention of the Department of Finance. The project must go through an independent review. As soon as I have the review the people in his area, and working with the local authority, will get the green light to start the project.
I thank the Minister of State. I fully appreciate and understand his role in the Office of Public Works. I have found all of his staff in the office to be extremely helpful and supportive of this flood relief work. I fully understand where the Minister of State is coming from. Anything I said is not a criticism of him or his Department but local residents are frustrated with the situation. I take on board what he has said about the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. I have expressed my concerns and will continue to do so to that Department about the allocation being provided and signed off. I am sure that he will understand that if the allocation is signed off today work will not start for seven or eight months. In the not too distant future we will face into another winter of high water levels. Unfortunately, residents are extremely concerned and stressed out every winter because the necessary works have not been completed. I thank the Minister of State for his work on this area.
I appreciate that the temperature is rising and the sun is shining today. However, I always say regarding people who have been affected by flooding and suffered the consequences of floodwater hitting their radiators, one is always only three days away from flooding. When a new Garda station is announced seven years could elapse before there is a brick on the ground. It is incredible the amount of work that must be done once flooding schemes have been announced. It takes between three to five years to prepare a scheme. I will work closely with the Senator from here on in. I assure him that we are working closely together to make sure, for the people of Glashaboy that he represents, that there is funding and that the work starts thus easing the pressure on residents. I cannot emphasise enough that the money has been ring-fenced for the Glashaboy scheme. Therefore, it is wrong for people to say that the money has been diverted elsewhere. Again, I assure the Senator that there is money for the scheme.