Minister Kevin “Boxer” Moran is in Muckinish, Meelick today to outline the considerable progress being made in progressing flood relief measures and works in the Shannon Catchment area. Against the background of channel works being undertaken by the OPW at this location, the Minister said, “We are here in Muckinish today which is close to the New Cut to see at first hand the targeted works that are being carried out by engineering staff from the OPW to remove silt and emergent vegetation at this part of the Shannon. I am delighted that the OPW was in a position to mobilise here last Thursday and work has since been ongoing in removing trees and installing a silt curtain to facilitate the channel works that we can see underway today. This is just one of seven locations where targeted works are to be carried out to remove silt and other materials to enhance the conveyance capacity and navigation along the River Shannon”.
In January, 2016, the Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group was established by Government to enhance on-going co-operation across all of the State agencies involved with the River Shannon, including ESB, Waterways Ireland, Bord na Móna, Inland Fisheries Ireland, The National Parks and Wildlife Service, OPW and the relevant local authorities.
The Shannon Group has taken a number of significant decisions since its establishment, including to trial the lowering of the levels on Lough Allen by 0.7 metres, which is the lowest level achievable without causing significant risk to existing waterway infrastructure and possible environmental issues. This protocol will be operated again this coming Winter.
Earlier this year targeted maintenance works were carried out at Madden’s Island, downstream of Banagher, where many trees which had been impeding conveyance capacity and navigation of the Shannon were removed. Further works are to be carried out at Madden’s Island in early 2018 when the next environmental window for works will allow.
In addition, following the receipt of consent from The National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on September 4th, 2017 targeted works are being planned (for the appropriate seasonal windows) to be carried out at Meelick Weir, the New Cut at Breaninch and Illaunalliagh, Shannon Grove (Kilnaborris) and Marlborough Weir at Incherky. These plans also include the New Cut weir removal. (Further details of the proposed works are contained in the notes to editors under).
The Minister went on to say, “The problem with flooding on the Shannon has been a major issue for the last two hundred years. All of the analysis and reports in that time confirm that the river-wide catchment approach and improved co-ordination by all State Agencies involved is the correct approach. I would like to pay tribute to the Shannon Group for their trojan work in taking actions to alleviate flood risk on the Shannon. The Shannon Group is due to hold its next meeting on the 23rd of October and I have no doubt that it will continue in its work to mitigate flood risk on the Shannon”.
The Minister then outlined the significant progress being made at other specific locations on the Shannon.
It is anticipated that works will commence on the Athlone Flood Alleviation Scheme at the end of October, 2017. The first works to be undertaken are in the Iona Villas area. A Part VIII planning application by Westmeath County Council for works on the Quay is currently being advanced with a decision due shortly. Maintenance works on the Al river commenced this week which will include the cleaning and widening of the channel and which will help to increase the capacity of river in flood conditions.
Limerick is the largest urban area on the Shannon and the city has suffered significant flooding in recent years especially at Kings Island. The new flood defence scheme and associated roadworks at Verdant Place opened to vehicular traffic and pedestrian use on Friday 1st September. Whilst works at Verdant Place have been ongoing, options development and planning is ongoing for the wider King’s Island Flood Relief Scheme and a preferred scheme is expected to be identified later this year.
Construction of the Foynes Flood Relief Scheme was substantially completed at the end of Quarter 2, 2017. This flood relief scheme will protect 157 residential and 31 commercial properties.
Banagher Minor Works
This scheme consists of approximately 575 linear metres of earthen embankments, providing flood protection to approximately 35 houses and will be completed by Offaly County Council in Quarter 4, 2017.
Funding has been approved in principle by OPW for Clare County Council to engage a consultant to undertake the detailed design of a scheme. The Council is currently out to tender for the consultants and when tenders are received later this month, it will formally write to OPW seeking funding.
The Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management study identified that there are a number of natural restrictions to the river channel in the Banagher area of the Shannon Callows. It is these natural restrictions that are influencing Summer flood levels in the vicinity. Increasing the river channel conveyance at these natural restrictions is likely to reduce Summer flood levels and modifications to the navigation channel is currently under consideration.
The Minister also referred to the scheduled maintenance by OPW of the Arterial Drainage Schemes in the Shannon catchment which is ongoing with €5 million being invested annually. In relation to maintenance of drainage districts which are the responsibility of local authorities, the Minister said that he and his colleague, Eoghan Murphy, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, are examining the existing funding arrangements for the maintenance of the Drainage Districts and a further announcement will be made in this regard shortly.
Minister Moran concluded, “There is a considerable range of activities and works underway and planned for the Shannon catchment. The OPW and all of the agencies on the Shannon Group are working effectively in partnership to address the Shannon flooding problems and I am satisfied that the Group is fully committed to pro-actively addressing and managing flood risk in the catchment area”.