Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (105)

Freagraí ó Béal (5 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Public)

Tagaimid anois go dtí Ceist Uimh. 105 ón Teachta Griffin. Deputy Griffin received an honourable mention earlier today.

Brendan Griffin


105. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the implementation of necessary flood prevention works in Kenmare and Sneem, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26340/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

It is rare that I get such a mention in this House so I will have to mark the date in the calendar. I raise the issue of recurring flooding in Kenmare and Sneem, County Kerry. Most recently, at the end of July, we had serious flooding in Kenmare and Sneem. While we also had flooding in other parts of south Kerry, it particularly affected those two locations. I want to keep this matter high on the agenda. I seek an update on progress on measures to alleviate flooding in these areas.

The Minister of State, Deputy O'Donovan, has informed me that he has personally visited all of the areas that suffered from flooding and he would like to thank the Deputy for raising this issue. A steering group, comprising of representatives from the Office of Public Works and Kerry County Council, is already in place to progress a number of schemes in County Kerry, including the Kenmare flood relief scheme. Earlier this year, Kerry County Council appointed three additional technical and administrative staff to support the progression of these schemes. These posts are being funded by the OPW to progress the schemes proposed for County Kerry under the flood risk management plans.

Kenmare's scheme is due to be implemented as part of the first tranche of 60 new schemes that have been prioritised for implementation nationally, following the launch of the flood risk management plans by the Minister of State's office in May 2018, and the announcement of a €1 billion investment in flood risk over the coming decade. Potentially viable flood relief works for Kenmare, to be implemented as appropriate after project level assessment and planning, or exhibition and confirmation, would include fluvial flood defences comprising of walls and embankments on the Finnihy and Kealnagower rivers, and tidal flood defences comprising of walls, embankments and removable barriers. The measures proposed also include the removal of the existing pipe under Finnihy Bridge. Kerry County Council is on schedule to issue the request for tenders for engineering design consultants and environmental consultants, from the Office of Public Works framework of consultants, in October 2020.

 In the meantime, the steering group has also proposed interim works that will involve the clearance of vegetation along a 600 m stretch of the Kealnagower river from the bridge at Aldi to where the Kealnagower river meets the Finnihy river, and a 600 m stretch of the Finnihy river from behind St. Claire’s Convent to the footbridge downstream of Cornwell’s Bridge. This vegetation will need to be cleared to allow various surveys, site investigations and examinations of environmental baselines and so on to take place. This will also involve the removal of debris that poses an immediate risk in a flood event of leading to blockages in bridges as was seen in the recent flooding event in Kenmare where a number of properties were flooded. Subject to approval, this work will be completed before the end of the year.

I thank the Minister of State for the response and I acknowledge the visit of the Minister of State, Deputy O'Donovan, to the south Kerry area following my request after the flooding in July. I also acknowledge the financial supports that were put in place for affected parties in the locality following the request I made in early August. That is very important but it is critical that the tenders issue in October and we see consultants appointed. I understand that the design phase will take up to 18 months before planning will be sought and the works commenced. The fear in the areas of Kenmare and Sneem is that there will be a recurrence of serious flooding.

I ask that the tender process be prioritised and there is no undue delay. In respect of Sneem, I ask that similar priority be given to having the matter addressed as soon as possible.

On the appointment of consultants by tender, it is scheduled to issue a request for tenders to the engineering and environmental framework in October, with the appointment of a consultant in the first quarter of 2021.

On the completion of the Kenmare flood relief scheme, following the appointment of a consultant in early 2021, the programme for delivering a flood relief scheme for Kenmare will take a number of years, contingent on planning approval. Once planning is in place, the construction of the flood relief scheme for Kenmare will likely take between 18 and 24 months.