The Portarlington Constituency Team has been in contact with Laois County Council recently with regards to flooding on the River Barrow between Portarlington and Monasterevin.
Laois County Council have advised that they are currently preparing a 5 year programme of river maintenance works for the Barrow Drainage Districts (these would have been previously managed by the Barrow Drainage Board which is now disbanded).
All of the river maintenance works (such as vegetation removal along river banks or silt removal from river beds) now need to be assessed in advance, in terms of their environmental impact (with the completion of ecological studies along the specific river locations and the preparation of Appropriate Assessment/Natura Impact Statement reports prepared by ecological consultants). Once these reports are formally approved, the physical works can proceed relatively easily.
It is expected that the draft programme will be presented to the Councillors by the Director in the coming weeks. The draft programme does include survey works in 2020 on the Barrow downstream near Vicarstown and some vegetation/blockages removal on the tributaries off the Barrow. Silt removal works on the stretch of the Barrow between the M7 Motorway and Portarlington are planned for next year and subsequent years in the programme. There is a longer ‘lead-in’ time for silt removal works because the more intrusive nature of the works means that the ecological reports inevitably have to be submitted to An Bord Pleanala for approval. Vegetation removal works as a general rule can progress through the approval process much quicker as they can often be carried out without a negative environmental impact.
It is expected that the 5-year programme will be finalised in the coming weeks and that the Councillors will then have all of the programme details.