29 Jun 2022

Kings River clearance project in Kilkenny hits funding dead end


Kings River, as seen from Bridge Street, Callan

Final reports on the costs associated with desilting and clearing the King’s River in Callan have all but scuppered the project, unless a monumental sum of funding becomes available.

Based on the latest data, the €72,000 awarded to the Callan Kings River Improvement Project under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme in 2017 is far off the sum required to carry out the necessary works.

Director of Services at Kilkenny County Council Mary Mulholland stressed that desilting a river is now “a far more complicated process than it used to be” in a report presented to Callan-Thomastown Municipal District councillors this week. 

There are also vast amounts of rules and regulations relating to planning which involve the Office of Public Works, Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Department of the Environment.

This is because there are now multiple waste categories and there are a variety of means of extracting different materials, as well as different means of disposing of each at various locations.

The discovery of trace specimens of asbestos in the subsoil of the river and the clean-up process associated with this would also bring ‘huge implications’ to the overall cost.

The desilting option would require funding in excess of €400,000 based on current project pricing and would require ongoing maintenance on a bi-annual basis.

Ongoing maintenance over a ten year period, subject to current regulatory requirements, was estimated at a further €500,000.

The report states that, as a result, the cost benefit for silt removal is ‘not justified’ and that continued significant investment would hugely impact the Council’s revenue budget.

It concludes that an alternative approach to retain the silt banks and use them to form part of a wetlands project to document the cultural importance of the Kings River would also not be covered under the funding.

Part of this would involve the preparation and implementation of a vegetation management plan over a ten to twenty year period at a cost of €20,000 per year.

The plan itself would cost €50,000 to conduct initial investigations and a further €50,000 to implement.

Cllr Matt Doran stated that ‘the general public in Callan will find this absolutely unacceptable’.

Mulholland acknowledged the councillor’s point that local people feel very strongly about the issue.

“We are aware that people have been looking at this project for years but we have exhausted all potential funding streams,” she stated.

Cllr Michael Doyle said that the report ‘goes to show that in-river works have become so complicated and costly’.

Cllr Joe Lyons stated that clean-up operations on the bridge on Bridge Street in the town ought to be completed, at the very least, due to blockages.

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