TEMPLEMORE town councillors have expressed their disappointment at the latest update on Templemore Flood Relief Scheme after they were told by Junior Minister Brian Hayes that the Office of Public Works is “assessing the optimal route for the culvert that is a central element of the scheme”.
And Mayor Michael C Ryan called on local Oireachtas members to “get up off their backsides and make a push for the work to be done”.
Cllr Joe Bourke wanted to know why the OPW had announced the scheme was going ahead before it had chosen the route, while Cllr Mick Connell described the culvert issue as a “red herring”.
Earlier, Mayor Ryan told councillors he had written to Junior Minister Hayes, who has responsibillty for the OPW, on the matter and read out Deputy Hayes’s reply.
It states:” I wish to reiterate my commitment and that of the OPW to the implementaion of the Templemore flood relief scheme.
“The OPW is currently assessing the optimal route for the culvert that is a central element of the scheme. This has proved more complex than initially anticipated due to the need to minimse the impact on property owners while having regard to the relative costs of the potential options. The OPW is working to finalise the position on the route selection in the shortest possible time-frame.
“Statutory provisions in the Arterial Drainage Acts 1945 and 1995 require that the scheme, when finalised, must be submitted to the Minister for Public Expenditure and reform for confirmation (i.e. formal permission to proceed with the work). The OPW has provided for the cost of implementing the scheme in its capital budget allocations for flood risk management for the period 2013-2016”.
However, Cllr Connell maintained that they were “twice told it was going ahead”, and he understood there was only a problem with one landowner.
“Let us address the two houses that are being flooded and take them out of their misery,” he stated. “It would be small money.”
Cllr Connell said he had visited flood relief works in Clonmel and saw how a simple job could prevent houses being flooded.
“These people are going to have sleepless nights until 2016. The culvert is a red herring,” he stated, adding he was “afraid the money has gone elsewhere”.
Mayor Ryan said he was “as fed up with it as anyone else”, and that part of the reason he had written to Deputy Hayes was that people could see they were making an effort but the problem lay elsewhere.
“There is a bigger risk down Parnell Street and into the Mall,” said Cllr Valerie Young. “Flooding is a terrible thing, but we are trying our best at local level.”
Town engineer John Jones revealed the council was “firefighting at the moment with water”, saying a lot of upland drains had been filled in over the past 20 years and the water is “coming here very fast. Years ago, big machines kept the drains clear, but now they are fenced off.”
He blamed programmes such as REPS schemes and forestry for flooding in the town, saying “forestry is an issue. The water used to be soaked up.”
He said legislation was probably needed to deal with the issue.
Cllr Maura Byrne asked that Mr Jones write again to the OPW to emphasise the extent of the problem.
“If you hear there is going to be a deluge, you are peppering,” said Mayor Ryan. “I am calling publicly on the Oireachtas members to get up off their backsides and help these people. We are staying too quiet. We are all fed up and that letter doesn’t satisify us.”
“You are not talking about the Ganges, it’s a small river,” stated Cllr Marcus Wilson.
Mr Jones undertook to write to the OPW on the issue, and, in the meantime, asked landowners to keep drains clear.