Clonakilty Flood Relief Scheme


River Fealge (Clonakilty) Certified Drainage Scheme

Clonakilty has a long record of flooding from storm surges, heavy rainfall and extreme river flows over the past 60 years. Flooding in the town was recorded in 1961, 1963, December 1996, 2004, 2006, 2008, three times during 2009, 2010, and five times in 2012. In the vast majority of these cases flooding was attributed to rivers and streams.

In the June 2012 event, extreme rainfall and river flows inundated the centre of Clonakilty causing significant damage to properties and businesses. It is estimated that 105 private residences were impacted along with 170 commercial premises. More than ten of these incurred direct damage of over €40,000. Total damage was estimated at between €6-€7 million. Costs arose due to structural damage, material damage, loss of stock, damage to machinery and indirectly through lost business. Summer flooding has the potential to be especially costly due to the town’s dependence on tourism. The 2012 floods occurred immediately prior to the important tourist season.

Clonakilty was identified as an Area for Further Assessment (AFA) and the River Fealge as a High Priority Watercourse (HPW) as part of South Western River Basin District Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Study (SW RBD CFRAM Study) being carried out by Mott McDonald Ireland. In response to the severe flood risk in Clonakilty evidenced by the flooding of 28 June 2012 the process for the development of a major flood relief scheme for Clonakilty was accelerated under the South West CFRAMS project.

In July 2013, the outcomes of the accelerated CFRAM work, namely flood maps and a preferred Scheme option, were brought to public consultation. The preferred Scheme option for Clonakilty includes:

  • Flood-water storage in an artificial, embanked online storage area upstream of Clonakilty to reduce fluvial flood risk
  • On-land flood defences to reduce coastal flood risk

Following the completion of the accelerated CFRAM work, the public consultation and the holding of a tender competition, engineering consultants Mott MacDonald Ireland were appointed to develop, design and implement a viable, cost-effective and sustainable scheme for Clonakilty to protect the town from flooding from the river Fealge and the sea. The consultants' work includes the preparation of documentation necessary to have the scheme brought to Public Exhibition. The development and progression of the scheme is overseen by a Steering Committee with representatives of the OPW, Cork County Council and Mott McDonald. JBA Consulting, who were contracted to provide environmental services for the Scheme, are also represented on the Steering Group.

The emerging scheme was presented to the public in a second Public Information Day held in July 2014 and has since been refined.

A total of six different options were assessed during the course of the Study, all of which were appraised under a Multi-Criteria Analysis Matrix, the same as is used for the CFRAM process, and the preferred scheme is the one which scored the highest in the analysis.

A flood risk management option consists of one, or more commonly, a combination of flood risk management measures. The preferred scheme in this case comprises fluvial storage and tidal defences. The main elements of this Scheme can be summarised as follows:

  • Construction of storage area with embankment
  • Installation of water level sensors and flow monitors to inform the operation of the storage area
  • Construction of new tidal defence walls
  • Construction of earthen tidal flood embankments
  • Replace sections of railings with solid parapets
  • Strengthen and raise parapets of Clarke's Street Bridge
  • Raise Ring Road for a length of 200m to a height of 1.7m
  • Construction of (5) surface storm water pumping stations

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been prepared which covers the environmental and social issues linked to the flood alleviation scheme and suitable mitigation measures have been suggested. These will be implemented by the designers and contractor where possible to minimise the short and long term environmental impacts.

The construction of the Scheme will result in a benefit to the community, as the Scheme provides enhanced security against flooding. No significant loss of habitat will result from the Scheme. The Contractor will be required to prepare for the works carefully, ensuring minimal damage to the environment and minimal nuisance during the construction works. A traffic management plan will be prepared for each phase of works, where required, to ensure the disruption to the town is kept to a minimum.

Minister Simon Harris opened the Public Exhibition of the Preferred Option for the Clonakilty Flood Relief Scheme in Clonakilty on 15 December, 2014 and the Exhibition was on display in the town from then until 20 January, 2015. Members of the public were invited to attend and to submit written observations on the proposals.