Environmental issues holding up flood scheme

By Dan Walsh at Enniscorthy Municipal District Council meeting

Enniscorthy Flood Relief Scheme was back on the agenda as a matter of priority at yesterday’s monthly meeting of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council where Cathaoirleach Cllr Aidan Browne favours the building of the new bridge first and it emerged that the OPW has placed the future of the flood relief scheme at the door of Wexford County Council.

TOM ENRIGHT CEO attended Enniscorthy District Council meeting

Cllr Jackser Owens called on the Council to draw down the €50 million for the flood relief and get on with. “It is 13 months since it was rejected,” he added.

Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy strayed into Cllr Owens’ territory when asking about an update on the freshwater pearl mussel.

CEO of Wexford County Council Tom Enright told the members that the scheme was rejected last March (2022). The council asked that the bridge be separated from the flood scheme. The new bridge will cost €20-25 million and will have to be built first if the Rafter Bridge is to be demolished!

The flood relief scheme was rejected on environmental grounds and there are fears that could happen again! Mr Enright said the results of a bird survey and freshwater pearl mussel report is expected to be completed next month.

“We (Wexford County Council) take directions from the OPW (Office of Public Works) but I assure you the scheme is a priority for the council,” stated Mr Enright.

Cllr Kathleen Codd-Nolan expressed her frustration at the time it takes to get it over the line and Cllr Cathal Byrne said the flood relief “is the single biggest issue affecting the town.”

The CEO hopes to be back next month with a timeframe for planning.

The freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) is a bivalve mollusc found in clean, fast-flowing rivers, and occasionally in lakes. It is a highly threatened animal, categorised as critically endangered in Ireland and across Europe. 90% of all freshwater pearl mussels died out across Europe during the twentieth century. Owing to its threatened status and dramatic decline, the freshwater pearl mussel is listed on Annex II and Annex V of the Habitats Directive. SOURCE; National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Incidentally there are 19 SAC (special areas of conservation) in Ireland protecting the freshwater pearl mussel, including the River Barrow and Nore.

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