Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Questions (270)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

270. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications the status of and position regarding the Avoca mines remediation project; the amount of funding set aside in 2020; the amount spent to date; the amount allocated from Budget 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33358/20]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

A feasibility study undertaken by my Department in 2008 developed integrated rehabilitation and management plans for the Avoca mine site, addressing human and ecological concerns, safety and physical hazards, heritage, future uses and long-term site monitoring and management.  The overall estimated cost for the works included in the 2008 study was over €50m with works envisaged to take place on a phased basis. Since the publication of the feasibility study, the Department has prioritised recommendations that addressed the most critical safety, human health and environmental concerns at the site.

To date, in excess of €5 million has been expended on remediation and monitoring costs at the site. As well as the health and safety work, environmental monitoring of the site is undertaken to ensure no significant change in conditions occurs without detection. An annual inspection of an underground tunnel, the 850 Adit, raised safety concerns about a section of the tunnel which passes under a local residential road in 2019.  This necessitated emergency repairs to the Adit between January and June 2020 to ensure its stability.

The Department allocated €1.1m funding for Avoca in 2020 of which in excess of €900,000 has been spent to date on the recent safety work undertaken at the 850 Adit. Funding of €450,000 is expected to be allocated for 2021. This funding will further support the monitoring of the site and will be used to re-evaluate the 2008 Feasibility study as a first step in the process to reappraise the approach to managing and restoring the site.