MOUNTMELLICK will have to wait five years for vital flood defences to be completed.
The town’s flood relief scheme will not come into operation until December 2024, more than seven years after many homes and businesses were destroyed in the appalling floods of November 2017.
At the latest Laois County Council meeting, chief executive John Mulholland said the complex five-stage project will take until December 2023 to construct. The final handover stage is scheduled for December 2024.
Meanwhile, Portarlington’s flood defences are next in line, with construction work expected to start on site in 2023.
Mr Mulholland told councillors: “The design of flood defences never comes easy and it can take quite a long time to go through the planning process. In resolving flooding, the issue is making sure that it doesn’t have a negative effect further downstream somewhere else.”
Mr Mulholland gave a detailed timeline for the multi-million euro Laois flood relief schemes. In Mountmellick, consultants JBA/JB have been appointed and preliminary design began last August. The design stage is due to be completed by December next year.
The Mountmellick project must go through two further stages, including planning and tendering, before construction starts on site in August 2022. Building of flood defences will take about 16 months, until December 2023. After a year-long ‘handover’ stage, Mountmellick will finally have its long-awaited flood protection system in December 2024.
Cllr Paddy Bracken from Mountmellick said: “The date seems a long way out, but at least we have progress.”
Regarding the planned flood relief scheme in Portarlington, Mr Mulholland said the first step is already underway, as the council is writing a brief for the appointment of engineering and environmental consultants. The brief will go to the Office of Public Works’ (OPW) ‘framework of consultants’ for schemes costing over €5m. As Laois is the lead authority for the Portarlington scheme, the county council must sign an agreement with Offaly County Council.
Senior council engineer Paul McLoughlin, who is Laois County Council’s project manager for the county’s flood relief schemes, said it is hoped that construction work will start in Portarlington in late 2023. He said: “It’s very possible that both the Mountmellick and the Portarlington schemes will be under construction at the same time. They are quite detailed schemes, but they are proceeding as quickly as they can.”
Meanwhile, Mountrath is in the top five schemes nationally that are deemed to require “further assessment” by the OPW before funding is granted. In the meantime, the OPW is considering a minor project to deal with flooding on Shannon Street in the shorter term.
Rathdowney must wait for a second round of funding approval, as it is not in the top 50 schemes around Ireland approved for project funding. The town is one of 118 schemes around the country that are waiting for funding under the National Development Plan for flood relief measures.
Meanwhile, Clonaslee already has OPW approval for a minor flood relief project costing €390,000, with preparation of a brief expected to start this winter. The county council is also considering minor flood relief schemes for Clonterry, Cloncannon Upper and Lower, Cloncough/Kilbricken and Inchycooley. Mr Mulholland said the council will carry out “initial evaluations” in these areas, before deciding whether to make funding applications “as appropriate” to the OPW.