Lifford (Leifear) is the County town of Donegal, Ireland. It is the administrative capital of the County and the seat of Donegal County Council. It is a historic plantation town that lies in the Finn Valley area of East Donegal where the River Finn meets the River Mourne to create the River Foyle. This meeting point is known locally as “The Three Rivers”, one of the largest river confluences on the island of Ireland. It is a Special Area of Conservation and designated for the protection of salmon. The River Deele flows into the River Foyle just north of Lifford. The River Finn and Foyle form the border with Northern Ireland in this area. The town of Strabane in Co. Tyrone is located on the opposite side of the River Foyle.
As part of the Government’s National Development Plan 2018-2027, almost €1 billion has been committed to the investment into flood relief measures across the country. Following on from this commitment, a steering group was established between the OPW and Donegal County Council to progress a flood relief scheme to alleviate the risk of flooding for community of Lifford. In Autumn 2019, RPS were appointed Engineering Consultants, and Ryan Hanley were appointed Environmental Consultants, to develop a scheme that is technically, socially, environmentally and economically acceptable.
Lifford has had a history of serious flooding: the most recent occurring in November and December 2015. Owing to the aforementioned confluence of rivers which is also subject to the tidal influence of Lough Foyle, management of flood risk in Lifford presents a somewhat unique challenge. As such, development of flood relief options will consider the interaction of flows in each these water bodies and the associated impact of this on flooding in Lifford. Development of proposals will consider the impact on the neighbouring community of Strabane in line with requirements of the EU Floods Directive.
To address flooding issues nationally, the Office of Public Works (OPW) commissioned and completed Catchment and Flood Risk Management (CFRAM) studies covering the entire country. The North Western – Neagh – Bann CFRAM Study was completed with support from Donegal County Council. An output of the study identified flood risk areas, including Lifford, and the associated impacts of flooding. The plan also set out the measures and policies to be pursued in order to achieve the most cost effective and sustainable management of flood risk.
Following the launch of the CFRAM Study findings, RPS were appointed in September 2019 to complete a detailed project level engineering assessment for Lifford. The assessment will involve identification of appropriate flood risk alleviation measures and preparation of detailed design drawings and documents. Once complete, this body of work will facilitate Ministerial Scheme Confirmation under the Arterial Drainage Act 1945 and Arterial Drainage (Amendment) Act 1995 and subsequent construction of the scheme. Ryan Hanley have also been appointed to independently carry out a Natura Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Assessment Report, where required under the relevant legislation.