5 February 2022
By Tom Collins
Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), Patrick O’Donovan, T.D., in Bantry recently welcomed the appointment of JB Barry and Partners Ltd. in joint venture with JBA Consulting Ltd. as engineering and environmental consultants to carry out the design of the Bantry Flood Relief Scheme.
Speaking at the signing of contracts, Minister O’Donovan acknowledged that Bantry had been severely and repeatedly impacted by major flood events in the past: “I have visited Bantry before, as recently as last December following Storm Barra, and I have heard from the people affected about the devastation that flooding causes to the them, to businesses and to the community of Bantry.”
He continued: “Today, I am delighted to be able to assure them that I am committing the required funding to Cork County Council to progress the design of a viable flood relief scheme that will protect some 200 properties from a significant flood event. The appointment of consultants today by Cork County Council, in partnership with the Office of Public Works, means that this Government – in just four years – has trebled, to eighty-nine, the number of flood relief schemes being delivered across the country. Like all OPW schemes, the design for the scheme in Bantry will be developed in consultation with the public and stakeholders and will be adaptable, in the future, to any climate change impact on the flood risk to this town.”
The Bantry Flood Relief Scheme is part of the Government’s €1.3bn investment in flood relief measures under the National Development Plan, as part of Project Ireland 2040.
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Gillian Coughlan, warmly welcomed the signing of contracts which sees the Bantry Flood Relief Scheme progress to the first project stage: “This is an important step in advancing the Bantry Flood Relief Scheme. It is also an important step for the residents and businesses in Bantry and I would like to encourage public participation in the consultation stages of this process. Cork County Council welcomes the OPW advancing this scheme which will bring assurance to the people of Bantry in a manner similar to the success delivered in recent schemes such as Skibbereen, Bandon and Clonakilty.”
Work on the first stage of this scheme, to identify a viable scheme design, starts at pace from today with the appointment of a joint venture between JB Barry and Partners Ltd and JBA Consulting Engineers Ltd following a competitive tendering process. The project’s Steering Group will be meeting following today’s appointment to progress the work involved in the stage.
Minister O’Donovan assured the public that there would be extensive public consultation as the Scheme develops. A project website will be developed and will be available through the OPW’s www.floodinfo.ie website. It will be updated regularly to inform members of the public of project progress. Regular newsletters will also be issued. A number of Public Participation Days will be held throughout the delivery stages of the project, the first of which is expected to take place at the end of May.
Minister O’Donovan acknowledged that today’s announcement does not remove the risk of further flooding during the time it will take to design and construct a flood relief scheme. However, to mitigate any future flooding, the Minister in October 2021 approved €101,578, with further funding of €82,339 approved in January 2022, bringing the total to €183,917 in funding to Cork County Council. This funding was approved by the OPW’s Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme for interim works, including the installation of non-return valves and provision of mobile pumps.
Minister O’Donovan also acknowledged the works by Cork County Council to replace the main culvert of the Mill River, which runs through the centre of Bantry, will provide further relief from flood risk to the community. These works, due to be commissioned this year by Cork County Council, will be integrated into the design of the flood relief scheme for the town.