Flooding on Spa St Portarlington. Pic: Michael Scully
The €3.1 million flood defence cash announced last week is “solely for flood defences in Mountmellick” according to a Laois County Council Senior Engineer.
Speaking at the recent Municipal District meeting for Mountmellick and Borris-in-Ossory, Senior Executive Engineer, Paul McLoughlin, said that the funding announced for flood defences last week is just for Mountmellick and does not factor in flood defence in Portarlington or any infrastructure repair works in any areas.
This comes despite the words of Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran which stated that Portarlington would be covered under the funding.
At the announcement last week, Minister Moran said Portarlington would be covered under CFRAM.
“Before anyone asks the question 'will Portarlington fit into that?', Portarlington does fit into that based on the CFRAM which is almost days away from being announced.
“I can assure that Portarlington will be looked after in terms of CFRAM,” Minister Moran said at the official announcement on Friday.
Mr McLoughlin clarified the allocation of funding at the February meeting of the Borris-in-Ossory/Mountmellick Municipal District.
He said that the €3.1 million is solely for a flood defence plan for Mountmellick.
He added that there is separate funding for clearing rivers through the OPW and separate funding for infrastructure ‘minor works’ such as fixing bridges and roads damaged by flooding.
Mr McLoughlin was responding to questions from a number of local councillors who were disappointed that they were not invited to the announcement in Mountmellick on Friday morning, February 9.
Councillor Seamus McDonald said it was ‘bad form’ that local councillors were not invited to the official announcement of €3.1 million for Mountmellick flood defences which was held in the old Civic Offices in Mountmellick.
Cllr Brendan Phelan was also disappointed and concerned that local councillors do not know where the €3.1 million is going to be spent.
“The local councillors of the municipal district were not even invited. As councillors we don’t know where the funds are going to be spent.
“We completely support all the works, our senior engineer spent six weeks in Mountmellick and we support all of the work that is done in Mountmellick.
“People in Rosenallis and Clonaslee have the same fears. We had farmers out with diggers during flooding in the Green Roads and a river flowing through the street in Rathdowney,” he said.
Cllr James Kelly said he was also disappointed about not being invited as it would have been a ‘learning process’.
“I have had phone calls from people who are fearing that they are going to be left out. I am very disappointed too.
“It would have been a learning process for councillors for future flood events to go to the announcement with Ministers there,” Cllr Kelly said.
CEO of Laois County Council, John Mulholland previously told the Leinster Express that flood defences for Mountmellick and Portarlington will cost up to €8 million.
Mr Mulholland said that in Mountmellick, the scheme may cost between €2 to €3 million, and in Portarlington it will cost €5 million.
A spokesperson for the OPW has said that 2.4km of flood embankments and walls are in the plan for Mountmellick and 3.3km for Portarlington.
Further details of the official flood defence plan is due to be announced in the coming weeks when the plan is completed.
The detailed design will include a review of the CFRAM mapping which has been planned over the last number of years, taking into account the recorded flood depths of November 22.