Group issues alternative flood defence plan

Campaigners opposed to the Office of Public Work’s €140 million flood defence plan for Cork have insisted that a tidal barrier can be built for €135m as part of their three-point plan to protect the city from flooding.

Catherine Kirwan, Seàn Ò Muirì, and Prof Robert Devoy, UCC as the Save Cork City group present their flood protection proposal.

The Save Cork City group outlined their alternative proposals last night and insisted a tidal barrier, extensive quayside repair, and a raft of upstream measures to slow the flow of the River Lee are “right for Cork” from a cultural, heritage and economic point of view.

In what is the largest flood defence scheme in the history of the State, the OPW has proposed a combination of measures, including changes to the management of the Inniscarra and Carrigadrohid dams, and the construction of direct flood defences, including embankments on the Lee Fields, in Fitzgerald’s Park, as well as raised quay walls along the city centre’s northern river channel.

But in a detailed 56-page document entitled ‘Potential Cork’, the Save Cork City group said the raised quay walls “represent a final tipping point” in Cork’s future that would see much of the city’s character and potential lost forever.

The raised walls plan is unworkable, costly, 50 years out of date and not adequate to deal with climate change, and they warned it could interfere or interact in unknown ways with the groundwater in the city’s complex Lee ‘buried valley’ gravel aquifer.

They said most people who have seen the OPW’s walls plan would prefer a tidal barrier, and the campaigners said they have costed a 910-metre structure at Little Island for €135m, based on construction and maintenance costs over 50 years.

“A tidal barrier causes no disturbance to the current river landscape in the city or to the city economy during construction,” they said.

Flooding on Carrigrohane Road and the Lee Fields area in Cork

Once in place, the group said work could start on the repair and reinstatement of the quay walls — a “gentle intervention” that would reveal and reinforce the historic city environment.

And they said management of the entire Lee catchment would include tree planting, wetland restoration, water diversion, attenuation, reinstatement of ditches and alteration of land drainage methods in cooperation with landowners to reduce the flow of the river into the city centre.

The Cork Business Association, which along with Cork Chamber, supports the OPW proposals, said they will await the outcome of the OPW’s consultation process where more than 1,000 submissions will be considered.

Meanwhile, Cork County Council confirmed yesterday that it has submitted an application to seek approval from An Bord Pleanála for the proposed Douglas Flood Relief Scheme along parts of the Douglas River, the Grange Stream, and the Tramore River at Togher and St Patrick’s Mills, Douglas.

The works include walls and embankments; new culverts; replacement, widening and extension of existing culverts; channel widening, deepening, realignment and regrading.

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