I propose to take Questions Nos. 97 to 99, inclusive, together.
The Office of Public Works (OPW) and Galway County Council (GCC) have been working together in relation to the flooding issues in South Galway, which incorporates the Gort Lowlands, and on how best to advance a possible flood relief scheme for the area. GCC wrote to the OPW in September 2016 setting out its proposals in this regard. The OPW, in reply, confirmed its agreement in principle to the advancement of a potential scheme for South Galway and to provide any technical assistance that the Council may require as the Council will be the Contracting Authority in this case.
Specific funding arrangements have not been set out as it is too early in the process. Once the tendering process for the required consultants has been completed the Council will revert to the OPW in relation to specific funding requests before entering into any contractual agreements. If approved, funding will be provided to the Council for the appointment of the consultants to examine options and develop potential solutions to deal with the problem and to undertake any surveys which may be required. Due to the particular geological and ecological characteristics of the area, the development of a possible scheme will be more complex than is normally the case with a flood relief scheme. The study area has yet to be defined and agreed and so a map of the area cannot be provided at this time. The Council will prepare a map outlining the extent of the study area as part of the procurement process for consultants. Subject to a viable scheme emerging which is both cost beneficial and environmentally acceptable and which meets with general public acceptance, the Council may request confirmation of funding arrangements from OPW to undertake its construction.
As part of the investigation into the problem there will be significant consultation with statutory bodies and the general public during the course of the scheme development where input and knowledge from the local community will be considered very important. If a viable solution emerges it will have to be brought forward through planning either under the provisions of the Arterial Drainage Acts or the Planning and Development Regulations at which stage the public will have every opportunity to make further submissions on the proposals.