27 October 2021
By Elaine Murphy
Patrick O’Donovan, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), recently visited Clonakilty to mark the completion of the Clonakilty Flood Relief Scheme together with the Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Gillian Coughlan, three years after construction works began. They were joined at a ceremony in the old town centre by Cllr. Joe Carroll, Chair of the Municipal Council for West Cork, OPW Chairman Maurice Buckley, members of the local Business Association, and by staff from the OPW, engineering consultants Mott MacDonald and contractors Ward & Burke Ltd, who delivered the design and construction of the scheme respectively.
Speaking in Clonakilty, Minister O’Donovan said: “It gives me great pleasure to be here…. and to mark the completion of the Clonakilty Flood Relief Scheme, knowing that the flood defences put in place are providing peace of mind to 300 residents and businesses no longer at risk of flooding. As we face into a future that will be impacted increasingly by climate change, Clonakilty will experience continued protection thanks to interventions built to withstand predicted increases in flood risk along the river and bay, and a submerged Kent Street as we saw it in 2012 and 2014 will be a thing of the past.
I think everybody, from local stakeholders to the engineers, will agree that a major Flood Relief Scheme such as this one is both a vital investment and a complex project, which requires not only ingenuity, engineering, planning and resources, but also collaboration across multiple agencies and disciplines, compromise and patience. Gathering stakeholders from all parties involved in this scheme today, seven years after its launch and public consultation began, allows us to appreciate what has been achieved. The active engagement of the community throughout, the careful consideration given to the town centre’s historic topography during heavy construction and the close collaboration with a multidisciplinary design team to deliver an enhanced public realm have all contributed to this scheme’s success.
While today marks the completion of the flood relief scheme, the OPW’s commitment does not end here. The OPW remains wholly committed to the ongoing maintenance of the scheme. We will work closely with the Local Authority by supporting them, and providing funding, to ensure that the scheme is operated and maintained after formal handover. We will build on this experience as we approach the delivery of ten major flood relief schemes across County Cork alone in the coming years, in addition to the seven already completed in the county since 2003 and to 39 other smaller schemes approved under the OPW’s Minor Flood Mitigation Works & Coastal Protection Scheme to Cork City and Cork County Council.”
The Clonakilty Flood Relief Scheme represents and investment of €33.8m by the Government that takes into account the future maintenance costs for the scheme. It includes engineered river flood defences throughout the town centre and tidal defences, including road raising, along the estuary. In addition to this, it also relies on reducing the size of floods by providing a flow control structure and natural storage area for heavy rainfall upstream of the town. This scheme is one of 151 schemes under the Government’s €1 billion investment in managing Ireland’s flood risk through the renewed National Development Plan.
In the coming decade, the OPW, in partnership with Local Authorities, will deliver these schemes based on its prior Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme and the Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMP) derived from them. These plans have identified that 95% of properties at significant risk from flooding have already been, or can be, protected against these flood events from both the 45 flood relief schemes already completed and continued investment in 151 additional schemes. Over 90 schemes are already under design and construction, in partnership with Local Authorities. This means that the OPW and Local Authorities have completed, or are now actively working on, projects that address the flood risk of 80% of properties identified for protection in this decade.
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Gillian Coughlan welcomed the new scheme: “The completion of the Clonakilty Flood Relief Scheme offers reassurance to the residents and business owners of Clonakilty that measures are now in place to prevent a repeat of the damage caused by the impact of past flooding incidents. The personal and economic impact of flooding can never be truly measured and, in a climate changing world, it is vital that we work together to create on the ground solutions for our county’s towns and villages.