Independent TD Carol Nolan has said that she is concerned about what she says is ‘a lack of urgency’ being accorded to the Mountmellick Flood Relief project.
Deputy Nolan was speaking after receiving a reply to a Parliamentary Question on the matter from the Minister of State at the OPW, Patrick O’Donovan.
As part of his reply, the Minister advised Deputy Nolan that the Mountmellick scheme is in still in stage 1 (scheme development and design) and that there will be another public consultation next year when the preferred scheme has been identified.
When the Offaly TD asked for a status update on a plan which came about after severe flooding in the town in 2017, the Minister said: “I am advised that the scheme is in stage 1 (scheme development and design).
“A number of site investigation surveys have been awarded and are underway, which are required in order to allow the project team to carry out the preliminary design. The Appropriate Assessment Screening has been completed.
“There will be another public consultation next year when the preferred scheme has been identified, in order to engage the public updated on scheme progression.
“At this stage, we will also be in a position to provide a more detailed programme.”
Unhappy with this, Deputy Nolan says the people of Mountmellick deserve much better.
She said: “The people of Mountmellick deserve far better than this kind of lethargic approach.
“They will recall only too well the enormous damage caused by 2017 flooding and the commitments given at that time by government ministers with respect to urgently initiating preventative measures.
“Yet here we are, over three years on, and the Flood Relief Project is still only at Stage 1, with yet another round of public consultation to come next year before any scheme is even started.
“In May of last year, then Minister Charlie Flanagan informed the Dáil that he had spoken to the OPW about the importance of progressing this project without delay.
“Unfortunately, the reply I have received today does not hint at any such urgency.
“The reply to my PQ also confirms that the Appropriate Assessment Screening has been completed. As I understand it this is a requirement under EU Habitat regulations.
“What the people of Mountmellick will need to know however is whether the outcome of that Appropriate Assessment has signalled a need to delay the flood relief works because of environmental concerns.
“I am concerned that the OPW could not provide a more detailed programme of works at this time, because, again, this hints at further delays in getting a flood relief project in place as soon as possible.”