There were some delays to the programme as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, due to the consultants being unable to carry out the final environmental surveys during the nationwide lockdown. Since the easing of restrictions, the consultants carried out the final elements of these environmental surveys, and the project team are now in the process of finalising this suite of documents for the confirmation process. It is anticipated that the scheme documents will be finalised and submitted to Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) in the coming weeks.
The Scheme now requires formal confirmation to proceed from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (MPER). 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 will involve, inter alia, a formal review by MPER of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) prepared by the Commissioners and recently submitted (along with a Natura Impact Statement) to the MPER as part of the formal confirmation process.
In order to assist the MPER in making an informed decision to consent to the scheme, the EIA will require appropriate assessment, as required under the 2019 regulations, public consultation for a period of 30 days and a detailed technical review of the scheme by environmental consultants appointed by the MPER.
If DPER find that they are satisfied with the proposed scheme, the next stage in the process will be the construction phase. In order to expedite this timeline, the project team will prepare for construction in parallel with DPER’s review. This will ensure that we are in a position to mobilise as soon as we are given approval to implement the flood defences for the town of Crossmolina. It is anticipated that the construction phase will take up to 24 months to complete. This may be subject to change as otherwise unforeseen issues may become apparent once the construction team are on the ground.
With regard to preparing for the flood threat in winter of this year, Mayo County Council, with funding provided by the OPW, have already rolled out an Individual Property Protection project, which has provided flood gates to over 100 residents in the town of Crossmolina. Additionally, the OPW has also approved Mayo County Council’s (MCC)’s application for funding for a number of minor works projects in the town, and these have been put in place by Mayo County Council. Since 2016, €230,000 has been approved for minor works in Crossmolina. And finally, the OPW Western Drainage Maintenance Section have carried out a number of maintenance works along the River Deel, and continue to do so in line with their maintenance plan. I understand that residents of Crossmolina will be fearful coming into the winter months, and empathise completely with their situation.
The implementation of this flood relief scheme is a priority for myself and for the OPW as a whole, and we have taken all possible measures to provide a standard of protection in the interim.