Tuesday, 11 May 2021
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Flood Risk Management
256. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the flood relief scheme for the River Slaney, Enniscorthy town, County Wexford; when the scheme will be formally signed off; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24087/21]
The Enniscorthy (River Slaney) flood defence scheme is being progressed by Wexford County Council (WCC) on behalf of the Commissioners of Public Works as a scheme under the Arterial Drainage Acts 1945 and 1995. This is a significant scheme within the Office of Public Works €1 billion flood relief investment programme nationally, from which the relevant funding for the Enniscorthy scheme will be made available, and on completion will protect 236 properties in the town.
The Scheme requires formal confirmation from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (MPER) to proceed. This is a statutory requirement under the Arterial Drainage Acts(ADA), which now, under the recent European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Arterial Drainage) Regulations 2019, also requires the MPER to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the proposed Scheme. This involves, inter alia, a formal review by MPER of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) commissioned by WCC and recently submitted (along with a Natura Impact Statement) to MPER as part of the formal Confirmation process.
DPER ran the statutory public consultation period required in relation to this process from July 28th to August 28th, 2020. The initial phase of the review of the EIAR and NIS was carried out by consultants engaged for this purpose by DPER, during September and early October. DPER subsequently forwarded submissions from the public consultation, and the EIAR and NIS reviews, to the OPW, along with a request for supplementary information, pursuant to ADA regulations 2019, to ensure that the design of the scheme complies with relevant environmental directives and regulations.
The OPW, Wexford County Council, and scheme consultants Mott Mc Donald formally submitted their response to DPER in the final week of April 2021. DPER and their consultants will now proceed to review the material submitted with a view to confirming the scheme. It is not possible to provide a specific timeline for a formal decision regarding confirmation in advance of that.
Completion of the above tasks and the progression of the flood relief scheme is a priority for all parties. In parallel with the confirmation process, OPW and Wexford County Council have been working on the following to ensure as efficient progression of the works as possible once the scheme is confirmed
- the Foreshore licence application public consultation has been completed, approval expected mid 2021
- a legal agreement with Irish Water for diversion of services has been agreed. The detailed design for these works is complete, and contractor tender documents are currently being reviewed prior to advertisement.
- Technical approvals have been received from Irish Rail regarding the rail line crossings, with the legal agreement well advanced
- Archaeological excavations are ongoing
- Removal of invasive species (e.g. Japanese Knotweed) is ongoing
- Pre-qualification of the bridgeworks contractor is almost complete, with a view to expediting contractor appointment post-confirmation
257. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the current timeline on the completion of the planned flood relief scheme in Bantry, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24115/21]
258. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the completion of the flood relief scheme in Bandon, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24116/21]
259. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the completion of the flood relief scheme in Clonakilty, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24117/21]
260. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the completion of the flood relief scheme in Skibbereen, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24118/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 257, 258, 259 and 260 together.
The Flood Risk Management Plans launched in May 2018 include a recommendation to progress the project-level development and planning for a flood relief scheme for Bantry. A steering group, comprising representatives from the Office of Public Works and Cork County Council, is in place to progress the Bantry Flood Relief Scheme. The Plans, with outline design of possible measures, estimated a preliminary Total Project Cost of €6.7m and a scheme to protect some 198 properties. Cork County Council has engaged a contractor to treat some of the invasive species in preparation for a flood relief scheme for the town.
On 11thMarch 2021 Cork County Council, in partnership with OPW, issued the tender documentation for the procurement of Engineering Consultants via www.etenders.gov.ie. Tenders are due for return on 7thJune 2021.
Cork County Council has also commenced the preparation of the Consultants Brief documents to carry out the repair and re-construction of the Main Street Culvert, which has been a significant element contributing to flooding on Main Street, New Street and north and south of Wolfe Tone Square in recent months. The OPW is liaising with Cork County Council on the integration of these works with the flood relief scheme for the town.
Once consultants are appointed to progress the Flood Relief Scheme for Bantry, consultation with statutory and non-statutory bodies, as well as the public, will take place at the appropriate stages to ensure that all parties have the opportunity to input into the development of this scheme.
The flood relief scheme will be funded from within the allocated €1 billion for flood risk management over the period of the National Development Plan 2018-2027. Provision for the cost of the Scheme is included in the Office of Public Works' multi-annual capital allocation.
In March 2021, an application under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme for interim works to mitigate flooding in Bantry, which includes installation of non-return valves and provision of mobile pumps, was submitted to the OPW by Cork County Council. This application is currently under consideration.
Furthermore prior to weather events, local CCC staff are implementing interim measures to assist mitigate flooding such as deployment of sandbags at Sands Quay and mobile pumping.
The Bandon Flood Relief Scheme was substantially completed on 16thOctober 2020.
A number of additional minor items are still planned to be completed, such as fencing, railings and conservation works to Bandon Bridge.
Work is ongoing on preparing the operation and maintenance plans for the scheme and it is envisaged that the maintenance and operation of the scheme will be carried out for and on behalf of the OPW by Cork County Council.
As part of the recently completed flood relief scheme for Bandon, the Office of Public Works installed a large ‘rock-ramp’ fish pass in the Bandon River, measuring some 130m, in October 2018. The rock ramp was essential to mitigate the impact on fish passage at the weir, which arose from deepening the channel downstream of the weir. The fish pass was designed by international experts, with input from national experts in the then Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLH), along with Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).
In March 2021, the OPW became aware that the boulders, rock and gravel material that formed the bed of the ramp had deteriorated, possibly as a result of extreme flows in the river in February 2021. OPW immediately carried out inspections, accompanied by IFI representatives and the fisheries’ specialist on the Project.
The site inspections identified serious deterioration of the rock and gravel bed materials used in the construction of the fish pass, over its full length. Of immediate concern was the erosion of bed material at the upstream end of the fish pass, which had resulted in the retaining wall, originally constructed below the bed level of the pass, becoming exposed and creating a ‘step’ up from the bed level immediately downstream of it. The situation was creating serious difficulties for various aquatic species in migrating over this newly exposed ‘step’ at the upstream end of the fish pass, particularly in low flows.
The OPW and IFI have agreed that urgent measures need to be implemented to alleviate this problem. An Appropriate Assessment Screening was completed, in line with the requirements of the Habitats Directive, and an AA Determination Statement was prepared. The proposed solution comprised large, natural boulders placed in a line across the width of the fish pass - close to the ‘step’ at the upstream end of the pass - to create a pool from which the fish can pass with greater ease.
Following consultations with landowners for access for the proposed works and following environmental approval, the emergency works were completed successfully on the night of Tuesday 27thApril.
These emergency works are critical in solving the immediate problem. In addition, an investigation into the reasons for the deterioration of the bed material on the fish pass has commenced and a longer term solution will be developed with a view to fully rectifying the issue over the next few months. It is planned to complete this investigative work as well as any necessary site works in the coming months in so far as this is practicable.
The Clonakilty Flood Relief Scheme undertaken by the Office of Public Works in partnership with Cork County Council was substantially completed on 4thFebruary 2021 by the main contractor, Ward and Burke Ltd and now provides protection to 296 properties.
A number of works to address outstanding items and snags will be completed by the contractor during the coming months.
Planning for the operation and maintenance of the scheme is ongoing in conjunction with Cork County Council, who will act as agents of the OPW in carrying out the statutory operation and maintenance of the scheme.
The Skibbereen Flood Relief Scheme was substantially completed on 6thJune 2019. All identified defects arising from the construction have been remedied, with some delays as a result of Covid-19.
Planning for the operation and maintenance of the scheme is ongoing in conjunction with Cork County Council, who will act as agents of the OPW in carrying out the statutory operation and maintenance of the scheme. A small number of works to address elements identified during construction, which were outside the main construction contract, remain to be completed and are being progressed in separate works packages.
Drainage works planned on Cork Road are not part of the main Scheme, but were subsequently identified as being necessary. Detailed assessments are currently being progressed by Cork County Council and consultants RPS, in conjunction with the OPW and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), to identify the most effective solution. The OPW is providing funding under the Minor Works & Flood Mitigation Scheme towards these works. While work is currently ongoing on the development of a solution, the Council is not yet in a position to confirm the programme times in relation to planning approvals and construction.
Following the flood event which occurred in August, 2020 in the Rossa Road area, Cork County Council and its consultants have been undertaking assessments of the problem. While all assessments are not yet finalised, some discussions have taken place with a local landowner with a view to completing some remedial/improvement works this summer. Any further works can only be progressed once the required reports are completed.