THE €6.7m price tag for Bantry’s proposed flood relief works is not the problem, it’s the time lag, according to Cllr Danny Collins (Ind), who fears it could take three years to start.
As chairman of the West Cork Municipal District, he convened a special of the local authority in Bantry on Monday, August 31st to discuss flood damage throughout the region which also impacted Bandon, Skibbereen and Rosscabery
Councillors from throughout the district called for a massive injection of Government funds for road repairs, the completion of the existing flood relief works, direct financial support for businesses and homeowners, as well as the adequate maintenance of West Cork’s watercourses.
Cllr Collins claimed there was an inherent unfairness in the €20,000 Red Cross relief scheme currently being offered, saying it only applies to businesses and not homeowners. He was also critical of the fact that so many businesses are precluded from securing flood insurance as part of their yearly premiums.
Several major flood events occurred in West Cork between August 13th and August 24th with some estimating the cost of repair could be as high as €30m.
As part of the €6.7m needed for Bantry’s proposed flood relief works, it is envisaged that there would be a flood barrier around the harbour, which would be most beneficial during times of high tide.
However, an engineer’s report on Bantry’s 446m underground culvert system – which runs from the mill wheel at the library in Bridge Street, down New Street, under Wolfe Tone Square, and out to the harbour – is another costly project that needs to be carried out, possibly in three phases.
That plan was designed to ensure that the culvert system is adequately maintained and made structurally sound, but concerns are over its hydraulic capacity.
Despite being 6ft by 12ft in places, the culvert system was unable to deal with the volume of surface water pouring down from Seskin towards the mill wheel.
Intense rainfall – which amounted to 50.8 mm over four hours – and the runoff of surface water from high ground caused the watercourses to burst their banks, and the culverts simply could not contain the flow.
According to Cllr Collins, ‘both the flood plan for Bantry and the plan to upgrade the town’s culverts have been around now for a number of years. It is time to dust them off and get them done.’
Meanwhile, Cork County Council has welcomed the allocation of €1.6m to assist them in undertaking extensive repair operations throughout West Cork after recent floods, as well as guarding against future severe weather events.