______________________________________________
For Oral Answer on : 08/02/2024
Question Number(s): 115 Question Reference(s): 5579/24
Department: Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure; National Development Plan Delivery and Reform further to the Topical Issue debate of 23 January 2024, to outline the progress made to date with the Midleton flood relief scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY


The Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Programme provided the Government with the evidence necessary to launch a national programme of 120 additional flood relief schemes in 2018. While Midleton was a part of the CFRAM programme, major flooding in December 2015 and again in January 2016, were the catalysts to commence work on the design of a flood relief scheme for Midleton before the conclusion of the CFRAM programme.

Cork County Council is leading the design of the scheme and in 2017 appointed engineering and environmental consultants. Designing any flood relief scheme is complicated and requires data on the flood sources and their associated risks. Midleton has proven to be one of the most complex schemes. It has flood risks from four sources, fluvial, tidal, groundwater and pluvial. In 2017, data did not exist on all sources and monitoring was required over a number of years to allow the flooding mechanism to be properly understood.

The data gathering and changing regulatory requirements, including environmental assessments, further increased the scale and scope of the project. Throughout this period, three separate Public Participation Days were held in 2017, 2020 and 2022. These served to gather useful information and assess the community’s views on the emerging and preferred option for the Flood Relief Scheme. This outcome also increased the scope of the analysis and assessments required.

The preferred scheme has been now identified with an estimated budget of €50m, three times the estimated budget in 2017. This highlights the scale of the project’s increase in scope. It also highlights that we have designed a scheme that is robust, supported by strong evidence that has the support of the local community, and is future proofed being adaptable to climate change scenarios. The preferred option protects 580 properties and can give back flood insurance to the town, as well as standing up to scrutiny or challenge.

Following Storm Babet, an assessment of the proposed scheme is now underway, so we can be confident that we have designed a scheme that can meet the standard of protection required by the insurance industry. The next major step is to seek planning consent and work has already begun on the environmental surveys to allow us to start the planning process early in 2024.

Identification and implementation of interim flood defence measures has also been progressed, including the jetting of the towns drainage system, removal of trees in the channel at Moore’s Bridge, and installation of water level gauges.

The OPW and local authorities do not have powers to expedite schemes arising from the damage caused by flooding events and the delivery of all schemes must meet both regulatory and planning requirements. Consideration is now being given as to the best planning route that can deliver the Midleton Flood Relief Scheme as quickly as possible.

The OPW is funding a full time engineering post in Cork County Council who manages the day to day delivery of this scheme together with the appointed consultant engineers. In November 2023 the OPW approved funding for an additional engineering staffing resource to work on the delivery of interim measures for Midleton. Cork County Council and the OPW are discussing other additional resources that may be required to progress the delivery of this scheme and other schemes across the county.