Confusion over the true cost of Douglas flood defences

Confusion over the true cost of Douglas flood defences

The severe flash flooding that struck Douglas in 2012. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has moved to end confusion among county councillors regarding the cost of the Douglas/Togher Flood Relief Scheme, claiming it may cost an additional €4.4m then was communicated in a report by Cork County Council engineers.

Council engineers told elected members last month that the estimated cost of the project increased from €6.8m in July 2017 to €8.6m, leaving councillors concerned at the rising costs.

However, council officials have now confirmed that these are only estimated costs associated with construction.

The OPW said the final cost may rise to €13m when VAT, site investigations, compensation to landowners and other related works are factored in.

The project includes the building of flood defence walls, the removal of two bridges, widening and deepening of the river channel in Douglas and culvert re-routing and also involves a culvert replacement in Togher.

The scheme is being 100% funded by the OPW.

The OPW said flood defence costs may rise to €13m. Pic: Eddie O'Hare
The OPW said flood defence costs may rise to €13m. Pic: Eddie O'Hare

Former County Mayor Seamus McGrath (FF) said councillors and the public need to be more clearly informed on how much these projects cost.

“I and many councillors would be surprised to learn that the figures we got in the report [from council engineers] are not the total cost. I would have read the €8.6m costs as being total cost. I’m surprised to learn the actual overall costs are €4.4m on top of the figure that was communicated to us.

“We have only learned the full figure from querying the cost and see the responses to parliamentary queries on the flood relief scheme.

“It is confusing and it is only a presentation issue but it was never represented to us that the €8.6m sum was just a portion of the cost. We need to see a full costing of these schemes – it’s the only way it can be assessed in any meaningful way,” he added.

A statement from Cork County Council said enabling works such as invasive species treatment, advance utilities and water main diversions and accommodation work will also have to be factored into the final spend.

“Flood Relief Schemes have to deal with a very large amount of risk and uncertainty. The design team has to determine the following; the amount of flood water expected, the level to which it will rise, and every flow path that it could follow. Over the course of a scheme, as the design team carries out its investigations, they gain a better understanding of the how the flood occurs and how it affects both the catchment and community,” the statement read.

“Regarding value for money, every flood relief scheme undergoes a rigorous cost-benefit analysis, where the cost of providing the scheme is compared to the benefits, including flood damages saved”.

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