Council says ESB is satisifed Limerick relief road route won’t compromise dam safety

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

CONCERN that the preferred route for the Limerick northern distributor road from Knockalisheen to Annacotty could compromise the integrity of the embankments at the headrace canal – and cause a flooding disaster – are based on a “misinterpretation” of a consultant’s report, according to Clare County Council.

CONCERN that the preferred route for the Limerick northern distributor road from Knockalisheen to Annacotty could compromise the integrity of the embankments at the headrace canal – and cause a flooding disaster – are based on a “misinterpretation” of a consultant’s report, according to Clare County Council.

Senior engineer Tom Tiernan said the ESB, which is responsible for the earthen dams which hem in the 12km canal from Parteen Weir to Ardnacrusha, was satisfied with the route selected.

Resident Pat O’Brien pointed to an extract from a constraints study for the €100 million road project where the ESB had highlighted the “hydrogeological sensitivity of the area immediately south” of the canal and its view that any breach of the embankments could lead to a “loss of life”. Mr O’Brien described this as “frightening” and something which “could scupper the entire project”.

But Mr Tiernan said that the project team had taken these precise concerns on board in opting against a route immediately south of the canal. Consultants Roughan O’Donovan preferred a crossing at the tailrace rather than the headrace, given the latter’s strategic importance nationally in power generation, the additional cost involved in a high bridge to span the canal and the risks involved if a breach occurred during construction.

The emerging route had “taken full account of all of the identified constraints including the headrace canal and all of the concerns articulated by the ESB in relation to same”, Mr Tiernan said.

“This is why the more northerly options – closer to the canal –have been ruled out” and the preferred route was “located appropriately distant from the headrace”.