Question marks over timeline for flood defence works

David and Laura Stanley are pictured with their mother Marguerite enjoying the St Patrick's Day celebrations in Athlone. Photo: Mags Cunney

David and Laura Stanley are pictured with their mother Marguerite enjoying the St Patrick's Day celebrations in Athlone. Photo: Mags Cunney

The €6 million flood defence plan for Athlone may not be implemented in time for next winter, according to reports emerging this week.

The council is currently in the process of selecting a consultant who will be in charge of designing the proposed defences. Once the design is in place the plan will go for public consultation. This part of the process could take up to two months. The plan will then come back before the council for approval, before the Office of Public Works can undertake the construction of defences.

Athlone Mayor, John Dolan, says the entire process needs to be sped up if the proposed works are to go ahead this year.

"I am concerned that we are moving through the year and there is little happening," he said. "By the time the consultants are appointed it is probably going to be another month. They have a job to do to put together the scheme. So we'll be a long way through the summer by then before we are even thinking about doing works."

Mayor Dolan said he acknowledges that there is a process to be followed, but added that assurances were given that the work would commence this year.

"I know the process has to be followed and it needs to be transparent, but it seems a long time since we had Minister Canney here announcing the funding," he said. "A lot of this should have been dealt with in the winter and we would be ready to go now.

"I welcome the funding, but the impression that was given at the announcement of the funding was that all these projects were imminent, and I am just wondering if the announcement was premature in that respect.

"In future, maybe if we are going to make these announcements and get people's hopes up, we should give a realistic timeline of when they are going to happen."

Local Independent Deputy, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, says there is nothing the OPW can do to speed up the process. He added that the OPW is liaising closely with the local authority and that he is confident work will commence this winter.

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