Fine Gael Senator for Mayo, Michelle Mulherin, has called on the Office of Public Works (OPW ) to give urgent priority to the delivery of permanent flood defences for Crossmolina following recent heavy rain and a flooding alert again for the town.
Senator Mulherin said: “Crossmolina has suffered from flooding a number of times in recent year, most recently in November and December 2015 and there have also been further incidents where the water level in the River Deel has risen to a height that is perilously close to breaching the banks.
“Yet despite the identification of a preferred flood prevention option nearly two years ago, which would see a channel being built to divert water flow away from the town, construction work still has to commence.
“The pace of progress by the OPW has been very disappointing, especially since funding has already been allocated to the Crossmolina Flood Defence Scheme since September 2015, when I secured funds under the 2016- 2021 Government Capital Investment Programme, which has been allocated €430 for flood defence schemes.
“I was also given assurances by the OPW in October of last year at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action that construction on the scheme would commence in mid-2019. Clearly this hasn’t happened. I have been highlighting my concern to the OPW again in the past while.
“I am concerned that there is a requirement of further environmental and hydrological investigations and it is difficult to understand why, given that the OPW confirmed they had completed the Environmental Impact Assessment Report in May 2018.
“We seem to be continuously running into delays and additional costs due to environmental designation. This is a problem not just in Crossmolina but wherever we are trying to develop infrastructure throughout Mayo. Flora and fauna should not be valued above people’s homes and livelihoods. This is an issue which I have been highlighting and on which I have campaigned for action for some time.
“Following recent heavy rainfall, local residents and business owners have been forced once more to look on in dread as the river level rises again, threatening their premises.
“The people need to know what work is being done. We need some accountability from the OPW and the consultants it has engaged so that we know this matter is getting their full attention.
“Staff from Mayo County Council and from the fire service are working on the ground in Crossmolina monitoring water levels. They are to be commended for their work.
“The Minister of State with Responsibility for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, Kevin “Boxer” Moran, has taken a keen interest in flood prevention in Crossmolina. I intend to speak with him as a matter of urgency in order to bring pressure to bear on the OPW for the way it is handling this project.”