Plans have been unveiled for tackling flooding in Kenmare, Co Kerry, which include “particularly high” permanent defence walls.
Eight years ago, a devastating 24-hour-flood hit the town centre and a lesser flood last year saw some of the same premises damaged again. Kenmare is at risk from tidal and river flooding according to an assessment carried out by the OPW and partners Mott MacDonald.
Recorded monuments like a holy well and limekiln are at risk according to a public consultation by the OPW in the Killarney Plaza Hotel this week. The cause of previous flooding was intense rainfall in upper Finnihy, which runs through the town. The focus of the flood plans will be the Finnihy along with the town centre Kealnagower River.
Defence walls are considered the best option but the proposed defence walls while they will protect buildings “are particularly high” and may restrict views and impact on the setting of buildings, the OPW cautions.
The walls will run intermittently for 2.5km and the height of the wall and embankments will vary from 2.2m to 3m. Fine Gael councillor Patrick O’Connor-Scarteen said Cromwell’s Bridge never caused a problem, but the newer, flatter foot bridge seemed to trap everything.
Independent councillor Johnny Healy-Rae said the works would “protect 146 houses and 81 commercial premises”.
The Kenmare works are the costliest in Kerry but the €5.43m investment will have a €10.67m benefit, and will protect twice as many homes and properties as works in some other areas,” he said.
One man who attended from the Finnihy Banks housing development spoke of damages of up to €45,000 sustained to his home in 2008 when the river “ran in the back door and out through the front”. Residents can no longer get insurance.
In Killarney, defences costing €1.3m along parts of the Flesk River are being proposed. However the works there will benefit just 10 houses and four commercial premises.
In Castleisland a €5.2m scheme will protect 76 houses and 26 commercial premises and have an overall benefit of €7.76m, a ratio of 1.32; while in Dingle €4.21m of works will have a cost benefit ratio about the same ratio as the Kenmare proposal — protecting 35 houses and 54 businesses. The plans are part of a national flood programme known as the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management, which began in 2011. n The public are invited to send in submissions on www.opw.ie/FloodPlans by September 23.
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