I am advised by the Commissioners of Public Works that the Ballyvourney and Ballymakeera flood relief scheme is currently at outline design stage. The preferred options of the scheme are now nearing finalisation.
My Office is aware of the ‘high’ water quality status of the respective water body in the area around Baile Mhic Ire and Baile Bhuirne. The Project Team is currently assessing the potential impact of any proposed flood relief measures in that respect, and engaging with the Project’s Environmental Consultants in order to ensure that suitable mitigation requirements are implemented, and appropriate processes to comply with statutory provisions are followed. This is obviously an important consideration, and resolving some outstanding issues is taking longer than had previously been envisaged. Nonetheless, it is hoped that the scheme can progress to Public Exhibition within the coming months.
When these considerations have been successfully finalised and provided the proposals are broadly accepted by the public and the stakeholders and the scheme is technically, environmentally and economically viable the scheme will proceed to detailed design stage and formal Confirmation by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform under the Arterial Drainage Acts 1945 and 1995 following which construction can commence.
Work commenced on the development of the flood relief scheme for Ballymakeera/Ballyvourney following recent severe floods and the conclusions of the Lee CFRAM study commissioned by my Office, which included an investigation on the flood risk associated within the village.
The main sources of flooding along the River Sullane arise when the capacity of the river channel itself is exceeded, along with the three tributaries to the north of the village, including a storm network, which can independently cause flooding through the gullies and overland flow.
As with all schemes, a site investigation was completed to assist in determining the preferred options and in order to develop accurate costings for the project. Among the environmental considerations that have presented, the presence of freshwater pearl mussels necessitated an additional survey and a proposal to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for translocation, which has been subsequently approved.
My Office held a Public Information Day in Ballymakeera in March 2018, where the relevant stakeholders and members of the public were invited to provide feedback on the emerging preferred option. This is an important element in the development of a scheme as local knowledge can provide valuable background information for the scheme.
As the Ballymakeera Study Area has notable environmental and fisheries’ sensitivities, it is essential that the environmental screening of a range of options is considered carefully, having regard to sensitive environmental constraints in the area. This necessitated the preparation of a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) and an Operation and Maintenance Plan, which, in line with legislation, need to be completed prior to the finalisation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR). My Office engaged engineering consultants, Byrne Looby, to finalise scheme drawings for this purpose. Once these are complete, the environmental consultants, RPS, can then finalise the EIAR. A Public Exhibition of the preferred scheme is now expected to take place later this year. This will give the community an opportunity to examine and provide formal comments and observations over a four-week period.
In the interim, Cork County Council has been approved funding under the OPW’s Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection scheme an additional €187,248 in October 2018 for the provision of temporary flood defence measures including a sand bag defence structure, two non-return valves at existing drainage outfalls and pumping sumps to allow over pumping during flood events. A Part 8 planning application is currently being progressed by Cork County Council, and following approval, works will then commence.
A Preliminary Invasive Alien Species Management Plan (IASMP) was prepared for the Scheme identified the presence of invasive species around or close to the works area of the FRS, including Giant Knotweed, Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Knotweed. Cork County Council has appointed Japanese Knotweed Ireland to undertake the planned treatment of these species in the immediate vicinity of the proposed works, and have confirmed that a second round of treatment of knotweed was completed in September 2019.A further round of treatment is to be carried out in October 2020.
The flood relief scheme will be funded from within the allocated €1 billion for flood risk management over the period 2018-2027. Provision for the cost of the Scheme is included in the Office of Public Works' multi annual capital allocation.