A High Court challenge to the OPW’s tendering process could cause a major hold-up in a €10m scheme planned for a Co Cork town regularly devastated by floods.
Construction was scheduled to commence on the Bandon Flood Relief Scheme this spring. But county councillors were told yesterday the legal challenge had the potential to delay the project for a considerable time.
County engineer David Keane further warned of some delays to the town’s planned new sewerage system as Irish Water had signalled it was changing the design of the project.
Details of the likely High Court action have not been disclosed.
Both major schemes were to run in tandem to minimise disruption in the digging up of through roads and streets. The sewerage treatment system, due to start in March, will not advance until at least September. However, a start date for the flood scheme will not be in the near future, it emerged.
Mr Keane said the OPW only recently advised him of the likely court action.
County mayor Alan Coleman said Bandon was waiting long enough for the OPW-planned scheme to commence. It was commissioned following a flood in 2009 that caused millions of euro damage.
“The OPW should proceed with the project anyway,” he demanded. “They should drive on with it and deal with the legal case, separately. There could be a legal battle going on for years.”
Cllr Kevin Murphy claimed “it can’t go ahead if it’s in legal limbo”.
Mr Keane, meanwhile, said the hold-up in the sewerage scheme was due to Irish Water deciding not to go ahead with original plans to build separate systems in the town to deal with the disposal of human effluent and rain water.
He said Irish Water had decided to route both through one system into the new treatment plant, because they didn’t view the initial plan as cost-effective.
Cllr Rachel McCarthy said council officials had previously held off on resurfacing streets as they wanted to do a proper job when the two schemes were finalised. It was estimated the planned works would have been completed within two years.
In the meantime, council CEO Tim Lucey had announced public consultation would take place on what people wanted Bandon to look like when the works were finished.
On the recommendation of Mr Coleman, councillors requested an urgent meeting with OPW minister Simon Harris to discuss the fall-out from any likely High Court action. They are also seeking a meeting with senior Irish Water officials to discuss the delay in their project.
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