Mountmellick flood project will proceed despite Covid-19 setback insists Minister Charlie Flanagan

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

mountmellick floods

Minister of State Kevin Boxer Moran, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Cllr Padraig Fleming in Mountmellick during the 2017 floods. Pic: Kevin Byrne

Covid-19 means money set aside for the Mountmellick flood defence plan may not be spent this year but the Minister for Justice and Laois Offaly TD Charlie Flanagan insists that the project will still proceed.

In as statement Laois/Offaly TD and Minister for Justice & Equality, Charlie Flanagan, has said that concerns have been raised over the past few weeks regarding the future of the Mountmellick Flood Relief Project in the backdrop of the current Covid-19 crisis.

Mountmellick was hit be devastating floods in November 2017. Residents and businesses have been put on alert on number occasions since during storms. The most recent of these took place just after the General Election of 2020.

He spoke about the matter in the Dail on Wednesday, May 13. He said he had spoken with his colleague and Minister of State Kevin Boxer Moran about the importance of progressing this project without delay. Minister Flanagan said Minister Moran visited Mountmellick twice following the flooding in the town to see the devastation it caused first-hand, and he has advised that the total expenditure on the Mountmellick Flood Relief project to date is as follows:  expenditure in 2019 - €127,683.07; expenditure in 2020 (to date) €66,897.83.

Minister Flanagan expanded on the figures given.

“The expenditure to date on the project all relates to the preparatory design and survey work. Following the public information day last November substantial feedback was received from members of the public regarding the broad outline of the proposed scheme and its programme for implementation. This feedback is informing the further development of the scheme design,” he said.

However, he confirmed that the Covid-19 emergency is likely to have an impact in 2020.

“At the outset, it was estimated that there would be an expenditure in the region of €475,000 in 2020. However, due to the current Covid-19 related restrictions, this figure may not be realised, however, I have been assured that the situation is being kept under close review.

“Minister Moran has informed me that in relation to projected spend for the next three years, consultants are working on their data review with a view to selecting a preferred option. Until this work is finalised it is difficult to provide meaningful yearly projections beyond 2020," he said.

However, Minister Flanagan insisted that the project will succeed.  

“I wish to assure members of the public that the Office of Public Works has guaranteed me that is committed to this project. The necessary funding to progress the project is available within the overall allocation of €1 billion made available by the Government for flood relief in the National Development Plan 2018 - 2027,” he said.

Laois County Council signed a contract in October 2019 with consultants to advance the detailed design and implementation of the Mountmellick Flood Relief Scheme.   

The design work is set to be the most time-consuming part of the project. The council confirmed recently that project is expected to be completed by December 2022. Construction work is scheduled to commence in August 2022.

A previous flood plan was deemed not useful because of the 2017 flood.

The cost of the scheme is set to exceed €3 million.