Minister Howlin confirms River Ilen (Skibbereen) Flood Relief Scheme

Issued 25 January 2016

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin T.D, today (25 January 2016) announced that he has considered the report of the consultants appointed to review the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the River Ilen (Skibbereen) Flood Relief Scheme and is now in a position to confirm the Scheme. It is envisaged that the Order confirming the Scheme will be published later this week, subject to the Office of Public Works (OPW) advising that it will comply with the conditions attached to the confirmation. A statutory 8 week period of public notice of the confirmation decision must be observed; following which, works may commence, subject to completion of the construction procurement processes.

The review of the EIS for flood schemes by the Minister is part of a new process introduced under EU Regulations and the Skibbereen Scheme is just the second Scheme to undergo such a review. The Clare River (Claregalway) Scheme was the first scheme to which this requirement applied. 

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has reviewed the process following confirmation of the Claregalway Scheme and has subsequently streamlined certain elements which have been incorporated into the review of the Skibbereen Scheme. The Department will continue to keep the process under review as further Schemes are rolled out. The latest of these, the River Bandon Scheme, has just undergone a competitive tendering process and independent consultants were appointed last Friday to conduct an independent assessment of the EIS.

Welcoming the Scheme, Minister Howlin said:

In the wake of the recent severe flood events, I am particularly conscious of the devastating impact that flooding can have on homeowners, businesses and whole communities. The Government has put a plan in place to deal with the immediate aftermath of the recent floods; however, it is important that we also look to the longer term. In that context, the Government’s Capital Investment Plan, which I published in September 2015, has provided significant investment of €430m for flood mitigation.

I am delighted to be in a position to confirm the scheme today.  This scheme when completed will provide much needed security and protection from flooding to the people of Skibbereen.”  

The details of the confirmation will be finalised in the coming days and will be available on the Department’s website at www.per.gov.ie.  Advertisements to this effect will be placed in the local media at this time and also in Iris Oifigiúil.

Note to Editors:

The Scheme is confirmed in accordance with the provisions of the European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Arterial Drainage) Regulations 2012. The Regulations provide that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform shall consider the environmental impact statement submitted as part of a proposed drainage or flood risk management scheme and determine whether that environmental impact statement adequately identifies, describes and assesses the direct and indirect effects of the proposed scheme.

Skibbereen Town centre is located around the junction of the River Ilen and its tributary the Caol Stream with development of the town being largely forced along the valleys of both due to steep hills in the east and south. The River Ilen itself is approximately 23 km in length and has a catchment of 245k m2 to just upstream of its junction with the Caol Stream within the town. The River Ilen rises in the mountains north of the town at Mullagmesha, flows north to south before turning almost due west through approximately a 90 degree bend at Skibbereen to ultimately discharge into Roaringwater Bay at Ringarogy Island, 10 km downstream. 

This scheme was progressed following severe flooding in Skibbereen in November 2009 and

December 2009. Prior to November 2009, the most severe flood event affecting Skibbereen occurred in August 1986. Other recorded flood events in 1969, 1974, 1975 and 1982 were less severe. Frequent flooding also occurred in the 1940’s and 1950’s. 

The scheme is mainly a hard defence scheme with some overpumping and includes the following:

  • Construction of new walls
  • Construction of earthen embankments
  • Replacement of old culverts and construction of new culverts
  • Some regrading works at John F Kennedy Bridge
  • Construction of Surface Water Pump Stations
  • Associated drainage works