Flood defence works to cause major disruption to villages in tourist season

Inshore fishermen, local residents, and tourist-related businesses face an nightmarish eight-month road closure to facilitate flood defence works in a West Cork harbour.

The OPW insists the round-the-clock closure, due to last until February 2019, of a section of the Clonakilty to Ring village road, is necessary for health and safety requirements.

A caravan-campsite business, along with a top restaurant, pubs, and harbourside residents will be affected by diversions, ranging from 5km to 20km. 

However, a senior executive engineer with Cork County Council also warned of “serious knock-on effects” for Clonakilty as steel piling works began in earnest yesterday, on the town’s bypass.

Engineer Michael Tobin said the OPW had agreed to certain concessions with the Clonakilty business community to ease some traffic concerns.

Mr Tobin, however, also said that major works between Clonakilty and the town’s Jones Bridge area, on the main N71 route to Bandon, are due to commence shortly, exacerbating traffic snarl-ups over the summer.

A public meeting in Ring village this week demanded the OPW make some provision to keep the main link open to Clonakilty.

Fine Gael councillor John O’Sullivan warned of the impact on businesses but also highlighted the lack of pedestrian facilities during the lengthy road closure, due to commence in early July.

However, Mr Tobin yesterday told the West Cork Municipal District the OPW is the driving force behind the scheme, which had ministerial approval, and the agency was “not for changing”. For ecological reasons and health and safety, there were time restraints on the projects, he said.

Certain works in the harbour had to be done by September due to its scientific conservation status. He said the road was too narrow and twisty to consider vehicular or pedestrian access.

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Hayes said locals already had concerns about a likely eight-week closure during the summer but a road closure advert signalling a July-February closure had “alarm bells ringing”.

“Why in the name of God is eight months closure required?” he asked.

Can we explore options to keep one lane open? From what we can gather, the construction company is willing to explore options so works will not impact on the tourist season but it is flagging cost implications.

Mr Hayes said the OPW can expect an “avalanche” of submissions for tomorrow’s closing date for the public’s response.

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