Sinkhole blamed on storage tank

An explanation has been offered for a ground collapse, initially described as “sinkhole”, at an unfinished housing estate last weekend.

Kerry County Council, which investigated Cahereen Heights Estate, Castleisland, yesterday said the cause of the collapse, which left a 10 by 5m hole, was a structural failure in the roof of an underground, storm-water holding tank.

Other underground storm water tanks in the green area of the estate have been fenced off from public access by the council as a precautionary measure, as has the area of ground collapse.

Safety checks have also been carried out on gas storage tanks and no risks have been identified, according to the council.

As the 99-house Cahereen Heights is a private estate, it is not in the charge of Kerry County Council. The developers involved have been in liquidation since 2006.

For the past three years, the council has been unable to reach agreement with Liberty Insurance Ltd, which holds a €1.2m bond, on outstanding works.

The council said it has been in “substantive negotiations” with the site developers, Coolfadda Developers Ltd, the official liquidator, and Liberty Insurance Ltd.

However, progress has been slow — leading to anger and frustration among residents who are paying operating costs of pumps in the estate’s sewerage system.

A council spokesman said the council made a claim on the bond, in 2011, in order to have the works carried out and the insurance company told it it intended to have the works carried out. However, the council spokesman said it “had not been possible to reach agreement on the completion of the outstanding works to date”.

“Since the weekend, the council has met with representatives of the insurance company on-site and the council has again informed them of the urgent need to have all outstanding issues resolved quickly,” he said.

The residents have been campaigning since 2006 to have complaints rectified, including the sewerage network and public lighting. Residents’ spokesman, Charlie Farrelly, said they had paid out €130,000 of their own money in managing the problem-ridden estate - the money has been collected over the past eight years.

“We cannot and will not pay out one penny more if our problems are not resolved. We can’t keep going back to the same residents for money,” he said.

Local Fine Gael Cllr Bobby O’Connell said residents could not be expected to continue paying indefinitely and their patience had run out.

“What happened last Saturday serves to highlight the terrible, overall situation in Cahereen Heights. There have been far too many delays in dealing with the problems and I’m calling for the bond to be released immediately so that the necessary remedial works can be done without further delay.”


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