For Oral Answer on : 26/10/2023
Question Number(s): 10 Question Reference(s): 46920/23
Department: Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure; National Development Plan Delivery and Reform to report on the progress made to date with respect to the implementation of the Midleton flood relief scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Programme provided the Government with the evidence to launch a national and proactive programme of 120 additional and new flood relief schemes in 2018. While Midleton was part of this CFRAM programme, major flooding in December 2015 and again in January 2016 were the catalysts to commence work for the design of a flood relief scheme for Midleton ahead of 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 complex and requires data on the flood sources and their associated risks. Today some 100 schemes are at design and construction stages. 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 understood.
The data gathering and changing regulatory requirements, including on environmental assessments, increased the scale and scope of the design project. Throughout this time three Public Participation Days have been held in 2017, 2020 and 2022. As well as engaging with the local community on the scheme’s progress, these served to gather useful information and assess their views on the emerging and more recently the preferred option for the Midleton Flood Relief Scheme.
The preferred scheme has now been identified with a total project 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 today we have designed a scheme that is robust, supported by strong evidence, has the support of the community and is future proofed and adaptable to climate change scenarios. The preferred option protects 580 properties against the 1 in a 100 year flood fluvial event, can give back flood insurance to the town and stands up to scrutiny and/or challenge.
Having invested eight years in arriving at a preferred scheme, an assessment following Storm Babet is underway, so we know we have a scheme that can meet the standard of protection required by the insurance industry. This assessment will take in the order of eight weeks. 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 consent process early in 2024.
Last week, the Taoiseach, myself and you, met with the local community to see at first hand the devastating impact from Storm Babet and to hear first hand their experiences and to reassure the community of the Government’s support to them during the recovery from this event and to deliver a scheme for the town.
This week, I and my officials met with the Chief Executive and senior officials from Cork County Council and the scheme’s consultants to discuss how the Midleton scheme can be delivered as quickly as possible. While the planning stage for this project is due to commence shortly, Cork County Council is assessing Storm Babet to identify the possibility of advancing any viable interim and targeted works for the town. Cork County Council will work closely with the community during the remaining delivery of this important scheme.
I can assure the Deputy and this House of the Government’s commitment to deliver a flood relief scheme for Midleton.