Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Questions (224)

Paul Kehoe

Question:

224. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when a review (details supplied) will be complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5654/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

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, 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, 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 28th July to 28th August, 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 has now 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 are currently compiling the supplementary information required, in order to formally respond to the points raised by the review of the scheme by DPER and their consultants.  To this end the OPW has written to DPER indicating that the relevant information will be forwarded by the end of April 2021. DPER and their consultants will then need 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) are ongoing

- Pre-qualification of the bridgeworks contractor is almost complete, with a view to expediting contractor appointment post-confirmation.