A leading UK engineering firm has asked the campaign group leading opposition to the €140m Cork flood defence scheme to delete selected extracts from an expert report on its website amid concerns they were “being used out of context”.
HR Wallingford, which was commissioned by Save Cork City (SCC) in 2017 to conduct a cost analysis report on its tidal barrier proposal, contacted the group in recent months asking it to remove from its website several selected quotes from the final report to avoid “misconceptions”.
The selected material, as it was displayed, was removed but the full HR Wallingford report is still available for download from the site. Wallingford said they stand over the report but stressed that it must be viewed in context.
Doctor Caroline Hazlewood, the group manager of HR Wallingford’s flood and water management team and a civil engineer who has spent 20 years working in flood risk, said the firm contacted SCC about the matter because it is very important for the firm to be viewed as “independent and impartial consultants”.
“We felt quotes on the website were used out of context,” said Dr Hazlewood. “We asked them to take them down to avoid misconceptions. We are here to help others. We are not here to support either side of this debate.
SCC has consistently used extracts from the Wallingford report to underpin its argument against the Office of Public Work’s (OPW) contentious flood defence project which includes revised dam operating procedures, improved flood forecasting, and raised quay walls.
SCC branded it a “walls scheme” and called for a tidal barrier to be built instead. The OPW ruled out a tidal barrier at this stage on mainly environmental and cost grounds, which it says are up to €1bn.
Shortly after SCC was established in early 2017, it commissioned HR Wallingford to examine its proposal for a tidal barrier at Lough Mahon. Dr Hazlewood said SCC supplied Wallingford with a “sketch design” of their proposed tidal barrier, and the selected location, upon which the costings were based. She stressed the report is based on a ‘sketch design’ only and confirmed that the image was not included in the final report. SCC has not made it available on its website.
She described the final report as “a basic and preliminary costing”, and said the report makes clear that if it was decided to take such a concept to construction, a lot more work would be needed.
“It would be the first step in a long process which would include a long programme of detailed work,” said Dr Hazlewood.
Save Cork City was not available for comment.