Mayo Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon has written to the Minister for the OPW, Patrick O’Donovan TD, to express concerns surrounding the delay of the Crossmolina Flood Relief Scheme and requesting the project timeline be expedited, in view of ongoing flood threats to residents and businesses in the town.
In response to Deputy Dillon’s parliamentary question on the matter, Minister O’Donovan replied: "The proposed flood relief scheme for Crossmolina is progressing broadly in line with the current programme. Some delay has been experienced in recent months due to the consultants being unable to carry out the final environmental surveys during the nationwide Covid-19 shutdown.
"To minimise these delays, the project team worked to progress all other tasks that could be safely carried out, such as desk studies, and continuing work on the preparation of documentation that will be submitted to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (MPER ) for formal Confirmation of the scheme under the Arterial Drainage Act, 1945.
"Since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the consultants and project team are now in the process of finalising the documentation for the Confirmation process. It is anticipated that the scheme will be submitted to MPER in quarter three of this year.
"Once submitted for Confirmation, the Minister will carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment as he is required to do which will involve an independent review of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report submitted with the scheme and the holding of a public consultation on the scheme. If the Minister confirms the proposed scheme, the next stage in the process will be completion of the detailed design and the tender documents for the procurement of some specialist works contractors.
"It is planned that the main scheme works will be carried out by the OPW's direct labour force. In order to expedite this timeline, the project team will commence the preparation of the tender documents in parallel with the confirmation process.
"While some amendments to the tender documents may be required following the confirmation process, it should be possible to progress with the procurement of contractors as soon as possible following confirmation."
Minister O’Donovan added: "I wish to assure Deputy Dillon that I am very aware of the concerns of the residents and businesses of Crossmolina to have protection from flooding without further delays.
"The provision of effective flood defences to Crossmolina is a priority for me and for the Government. We want to ensure that the scheme that is built is technically and environmentally sound. I know that the OPW, Mayo County Council, and the scheme consultants have worked extremely hard to advance the scheme in what has been a complex environmental situation."
Deputy Dillon said: "Having visited local businesses and spoken to residents of Crossmolina, the community is in fear of a possible flood again in the future. Every time there is heavy rain, or a weather alert warning, residents and businesses are very anxious and live in fear of mass flooding again."
Deputy Dillon added: "In relation to flood defences for Crossmolina, funding was not the issue, the Government has already made an allocation of funding since September 2015 in the 2016 - 2021 Capital Investment Programme of €430m for Flood Defences.
"I ask the OPW to commit to the people of Crossmolina to get this project through its Environmental surveys out to tender as quickly as possible and appreciate all the work completed to date by the OPW, Mayo County Council, and the scheme consultants."