Work on a vital flood-prevention scheme has been delayed again and construction on it may not start for another year.
The Office of Public Works (OPW) has finally submitted plans for the €8.5m Glanmire project to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, but it could take up to six months for him to approve it.
If Mr Donohoe doesn’t fast-track the decision, it could be the autumn before he signs off on it and, after that, a procurement process will start for tendering the contract for its construction, which could take several more months.
Cork County Council engineers, who have helped draw up the project, had hoped construction would be underway by now.
The OPW had to undertake a second Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the scheme, which had already delayed it.
The new EIA has now been submitted, along with the full plans to Mr Donohoe, for his approval.
Millions of euro worth of damage was caused to more than 80 houses, businesses, and infrastructure in the area, when the River Glashaboy burst its banks in the early hours of June 28, 2012.
Glanmire Chamber of Commerce chairwoman, Gail Dowling, said it is “obviously disappointing” that the scheme is taking so long to get to construction.
She said that a number of local businesses and householders can no longer get flood-insurance cover and every time there is heavy rain, they are naturally worried.
She said she hopes that Mr Donohoe signs off on the project as quickly as possible.
Senator Colm Burke said he has been in constant contact with OPW Minister, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, and, more recently, with Mr Donohoe’s office.
Mr Burke said it is “unacceptable” that there should be further delays: “Paschal Donohoe knows that I’m concerned about this and I won’t back off until this is done. It’s taken far too long as it is.”
Mr Moran said that rumours that money set aside for flood-prevention schemes could be used to offset the overspend at the planned National Children’s Hospital are untrue and the money for flood-relief projects remains ringfenced.
However, his office admitted that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s approval process can take up to six months.
Mr Burke said he had originally hoped that construction would get underway by September of this year.
But he acknowledges that this is now unlikely.