THE OPW and local politicians have this week clarified reports which appeared to claim that no dredging would take place on the Bandon River this summer.
Speaking to The Southern Star, Michael Collins, assistant chief engineer of the OPW, confirmed that the appointed contractor, Wills Bros, will undertake dredging works next month, subject to an archaeological licence being granted, despite reports to the contrary earlier this week.
‘There seems to be confusion relating to taking out the ‘gravel shoals’ in the vicinity of the main bridge in the town and the overall flood relief scheme. We felt that taking out gravel shoals won’t confer an appreciable benefit on the town, so we didn’t agree to fund it, as there is no hydraulic benefit,’ said Mr Collins.
He said the recent report, in a national newspaper, which claimed no dredging would take place before winter, had showed the OPW in a negative light. ‘We are spending a lot of money on the town’s flood relief scheme. The contractor is there at the moment and they have a set time plan to get the work done, with some amount of dredging done before this winter.’ Cork county engineer David Keane clarified that the OPW had told the Council they would not be carrying out the ‘temporary’ cleaning works that the Council has carried out over the past three years.
‘The OPW said that they felt that these cleaning works wouldn’t have any impact on the overall scheme, so they were not asking the contractors to do this,’ said Mr Keane.
Cork South West Fine Gael TD Jim Daly expressed his disappointment with the additional fear and anxiety which the report generated, adding that any dredging at the foot of the main bridge would be at best cosmetic. ‘All the experts, including hydrologists and engineers, have prescribed very significant dredging works downstream on the town on the Innishannon side to facilitate the rapid flow of rising waters out of the town,’ he added.
Cork South West Fianna Fáil TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony said she was very sorry that the people of Bandon have had to endure an extra worry on top of the fear of flooding, and not being able to get flood insurance.
‘As far as I’m aware there will be a dredging of the Bandon River, and I will put pressure on both Minister Sean Canney and the OPW to ensure these works are carried out, along with all the other Cork south west flood schemes,’ said Deputy Murphy O’Mahony.
Gillian Powell of Bandon Flood Group said that she has ‘total faith’ in the contractor’s methodology for the scheme. ‘We have to remain positive and while unfortunately we won’t be safe this winter, I remain optimistic that we will be safe soon,’ said Gillian.
Senator Tim Lombard has called on the Minister of State for the OPW, Sean Canney, to extend the works past the initial September cut-off date to allow more time for the dredging of the river before winter.