Brian Hayes, minister for the OPW, said work will start on creating flood defences around Skibbereen by the middle of next year and take between 18 months and two years to complete.
The project will involve building 4.2km of embankments, 2.9km of walls, four new culverts and four pumping stations. Mr Hayes announced the go-ahead for the project at a special function in the local town council office yesterday and said it would benefit people who had suffered significantly from flooding in recent years. “The Government is absolutely committed to protecting the town and when completed it will provide 200-year flood event protection to approximately 179 homes and 131 commercial properties and will provide a solution to the ongoing flooding concerns for the people of Skibbereen.” Mr Hayes said money had been “ring-fenced” for the project and told those present he “recognised the serious personal and economic impact of flooding.” The news was welcomed by Cathal O’Donovan, secretary of a local flood committee which had lobbied for several years for work to be carried out.
“It’s been close on three years getting to this point but, now, we can see light at the end of the tunnel. It’s very positive news for the town and the major thing is that the minister said the money is ring-fenced for the project.” Details of the scheme can be examined by the public in the town council offices until May 10 and they have until May 31 to make submissions. Mr Hayes later met with business and community leaders in Clonakilty and told them he was confident a preferred solution to persistent flooding there would go on public display this June. “It would, however, be unrealistic to expect work to start in Clonakilty until 2015 and it will take 18 months to two years to complete,” he said. He reiterated it takes time to devise proper plans which would ensure flood defences worked properly. Mr Hayes later repeated this sentiment to residents’ representatives in Glanmire, where 60 homes and dozens of businesses were destroyed in the flood of Jun 28 last. He told people living in Meadowbrook, where all 49 homes were destroyed, that Cork County Council would shortly appoint consultants to carry out a detailed study of the Glashaboy river. “You need to see movement. But there isn’t a quick-fix solution for this, it will take time.” He assured them their case would be looked at within the €45m per annum which is being set aside for the next three years to develop flood defences nationwide.