Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Questions (199)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

199. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his attention has been drawn to the fact that when the OPW was undertaking the flood relief works for Fermoy town in doing the ground work in the River Blackwater, it undermined the structure of Fermoy weir; if the OPW takes shared responsibility in the costs associated with the reinstatement of the weir in whole; and if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that the OPW was the original owner and keeper of this weir. [31339/18]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I can confirm that the works which the Office of Public Works (OPW) carried out in constructing the Fermoy flood relief scheme did not interfere with the weir in Fermoy in any way and did not undermine the structure of the weir. The OPW does not have any responsibility for the weir or for the costs associated with its repair or reinstatement. The OPW was not the original owner of the weir and the weir is not and has never been in the ownership of the OPW.

The Fermoy North and South flood relief schemes involved very little interference with the Blackwater River as the embankments and walls are largely set back from the river. There were no works required or undertaken on Fermoy weir as part of either the North or South flood relief schemes for the town.

The deterioration of the weir in recent years has had nothing to do with the flood relief schemes. The in-river works as part of the flood relief scheme maintained a clearance between the works area and the weir, thus avoiding scheme works impacting on the weir. I understand that it was previously confirmed that damage to the weir in 2016 at O’Neill Crowley Quay arose from trees being washed downstream.

I understand that the weir was built to service the mill building in the town and therefore it would have been owned and kept by the original mill owner. I understand that it was previously owned by the Town Council of Fermoy, and since the dissolution of the Town Council, it is owned by Cork County Council. The responsibility for the maintenance of the weir in Fermoy therefore lies with its owner, the Local Authority.

The question of costs associated with any repair work to the weir is a matter for Cork County Council as owner. The Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Mr Sean Kyne, T.D., during the course of a Topical debate on the issue on Wednesday 4 July (Topical item no. 4), confirmed that his Department and IFI have undertaken to support any bid the Council makes for central funding in relation to the weir in the context of fisheries and habitat issues.