The flooded N80 road in Mountmellick in 2017. Photo: Denis Byrne
Flood walls are still years away from being a reality in vulnerable Laois towns.
Slow progress is being made on a plan to build flood prevention measures.
Laois County Council CEO John Mulholland has confirmed that Mountmellick is top of the list.
“Portarlington will be nine months or a year behind Mountmellick. There is quite a time yet before we see diggers on the ground and defences in place,” he said. speaking at the June council meeting.
“The process of flood relief is complicated. You have to look at the effect downstream, and value for money,” he said.
Mr Mulholland said that he is “anxious” to see all the Laois flood defences done.
“We have been anxious to progress all the schemes including Clonaslee and Mountrath. We have to adhere to strict procurement guidelines. Only now the Mountmellick consulting team has been recruited, that has taken a year. Then we will do the design, go out to the public, and plans will be subject to Environmental Impact Assessments and Natura reports, probably An Bord Pleanala will be involved,” he said.
For Mountmellick, the tender process is complete to find an engineering and environmental consultancy, who will develop the project.
The tender is expected to be awarded this July.
In Portarlington so far, a joint site walk has taken place between Laois and Offaly county councils and the Office of Public Works.
The OPW has asked Offaly County Council to select nominees to join a steering group to develop the scheme. Representatives from Laois and the OPW are already on the group.
A brief to appoint a similar engineering environmental consultancy for the Portarlington project is now being written.
Portarlington Cllr Aidan Mullins said he believes it could take five more years.
“I would like more information on Portarlington flood relief. It’s good news on Mountmellick, but I want some timeframe, I’m led to believe it could be three to five years,” he said.
Cllr Tom Mulhall urged that rivers be cleaned during the permitted summer time.
“I ask the CEO, what is your plan for river maintenance? It’s the same old story not being able to start until July, and getting paperwork from the Inland Fisheries and National Parks and Wildlife. There is a huge amount of silt, weeds, dirt and trees. I would like the three months maximised.
“You can put up all the defence measures you like, but if you don’t clean rivers, you’ll have flooding in another town or village,” Cllr Mulhall said.