14. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the development of the Enniscorthy flood defence scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53251/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017)

(Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): The River Slaney-Enniscorthy flood relief scheme is being progressed by Wexford County Council as the contracting authority, with funding by the Office of Public Works.

Good progress is being made in advancing the scheme and a significant amount of the necessary ground work to inform the detailed design of the scheme has been carried out to date. Further work is required on the technical and cost aspects before the scheme is ready to be brought to a public information day. It is planned, however, to hold a public information day, on which the current design of the scheme will be outlined, in quarter 2 of 2018. Subject to a satisfactory outcome to the public information day, it is anticipated that the scheme will be ready to be submitted for confirmation or formal ministerial approval and to go to tender in quarter 3 of 2018. Subject to formal confirmation of the scheme by the Minister for Finance and for Public Expenditure and Reform, we hope to commence construction in late 2018.

Deputy James Browne: As the Minister of State is aware, Enniscorthy has been prone to consistent flooding and there has been extreme flooding in the town on numerous occasions, most recently in 2015 during Storm Frank. Obviously, the townspeople, including the business owners, are distraught every time this happens. The town lies in a valley and the flooding does huge economic damage, but the psychological damage to business people and those living in the area is also significant. We are very anxious that this scheme is advanced as quickly as possible. One of the first things I did when I became a member of the town council was to help to try to resurrect the scheme, to which people had previously objected. It is very important for the town that it be advanced as quickly as possible.

Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran: I will visit the area very shortly, as the Deputy is aware. The Minister of State, Deputy D’Arcy, has also contacted me in this regard. I assure Deputy Browne that this is a top priority for the Government and me.

Deputy James Browne: I thank the Minister of State. It is very welcome that he is coming to Wexford and I know he is very interested in the area. When he comes to Wexford, I am anxious that the Minister of State should visit the Enniscorthy flood relief scheme, which can be a good news story if it is advanced. I particularly want to praise the staff of the council, Slaney rescue services personnel and the members of the other blue-light organisations, who, on every occasion there are extreme weather conditions in Enniscorthy, risk their lives to help local people.

Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran: I am happy with that.