THE delivery of flood protection defences for Ennis paves the way for the future development of the county capital into “the town it really has the potential to be”, Minister of State Pat O’Donovan said this week.
The Ennis South Flood Relief Scheme, the final of three flood defence schemes in the town, was officially opened on Tuesday by the Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works.
This scheme provides protection from flooding to the residential areas of Ballybeg, Clareabbey and Toberteascáin as well as St Flannan’s College and the Quin Road Business Park.
Minister O’Donovan said working in partnership with the OPW, Clare County Council has delivered peace of mind to 121 home owners and five businesses in the local community with this last phase.
Speaking at the opening, Minister O’Donovan said the future growth potential of the town was dependent on flood defence works being carried out; that industrial, tourism, housing, commercial and retail development were predicated on whether or not the “scourge” of flooding faced by so many in the town could be alleviated.
The three flood defence schemes have been realised through significant government investments in excess of €60 million over the past two decades, he outlined. This has brought protection to a total of 1,850 properties at risk of flooding in Ennis with an estimated benefit in avoided damages of over €300 million.
“I think that the town, and the county, and the people of Clare can be very proud that their county town has been protected in collaboration with Clare County Council and the Office of Public Works,” he said. He went on to thank all involved in the project.
The scheme consists of the construction of two 1.2m culverts, a pumpstation, upgrading of the existing sluices and a new piled flood defence wall for a distance of 1.2km along the town side bank of the River Fergus.
The scheme was designed for Clare County Council by Ryan Hanley Consulting Engineers and was constructed by Ward & Burke Ltd, contractors. The scheme commenced in March 2019 and was completed in late August 2021.
Councillor PJ Ryan, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council said, “This scheme is the final piece of the jigsaw that will allow Ennis to continue to develop and thrive.”
He paid tribute to all of those involved in bringing the project to fruition, saying the scheme has been constructed to “a very high standard”. He also pointed to the “added bonus” of the new river walk way which has been constructed and is proving very popular.
He acknowledged the residents and businesses of the area “who suffered flooding in the past and were inconvenienced by the works over the past two years for their patience and understanding.”
Newly elected Mayor of Ennis Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy recalled seeing “waves” of flood waters coming over the walls of St Flannan’s in the past saying, “it is wonderful now that we won’t see that again in the future.”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council, stated the flood defences are “a significant” piece of infrastructure. He pointed to the strong relationship between the OPW and the council, saying the completion of this scheme is proof that issues can be resolved by working together to improve the quality of life of the people in Clare.
He added the completion of the scheme is a welcome addition to the flood protection infrastructure in the town of Ennis and “brings to an end a very worrying time for residents, businesses and a school in the area.”
Carmel Kirby, Director of Physical Development, Clare County Council, said: “The River Fergus Walk and Cycleway, which runs alongside and was constructed as part of the flood relief scheme, is a welcome addition to the amenities in the area and is proving very popular.”
Also during his visit to Clare, Minister O’Donovan announced the approval of Clare County Council’s application for funding under the Office of Public Works’ Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme.
Under the scheme, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has approved funding of €49,050 for flood protection works at Ballycally. Works will involve the repair of a breach with rock armour and gabion baskets on a layer of terram and strengthening the embankment behind the repair with suitable imported material for a distance of 100m. The solution was designed for similar breaches on the Shannon Estuary Embankments.