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 â€“ and cause a flooding disaster â€“ are based on a â€œmisinterpretationâ€ of a consultantâ€™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 Oâ€™Brien pointed to an extract from a constraints study for the â‚¬100 million road project where the ESB had highlighted the â€œhydrogeological sensitivity of the area immediately southâ€ of the canal and its view that any breach of the embankments could lead to a â€œloss of lifeâ€. Mr Oâ€™Brien described this as â€œfrighteningâ€ and something which â€œcould scupper the entire projectâ€.
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 Oâ€™Donovan preferred a crossing at the tailrace rather than the headrace, given the latterâ€™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 â€œtaken full account of all of the identified constraints including the headrace canal and all of the concerns articulated by the ESB in relation to sameâ€, Mr Tiernan said.
â€œThis is why the more northerly options â€“ closer to the canal â€“have been ruled outâ€ and the preferred route was â€œlocated appropriately distant from the headraceâ€.