New plans for the €140m Cork City flood defence scheme, which will see proposals to raise quay walls ditched in favour of demountable barriers, have been unveiled.
The design revamp, in response to public feedback and to protect historically sensitive areas of the city centre, will see defences used along North Mall and Sullivan’s Quay. The railings and trees at both locations will be retained.
There are also proposals to create a tree-lined cycle and walking boulevard along the Lee Fields, where a park, with a raised embankment, will be designed to enhance access to the river via an upgraded Lee Fields slipway, and to create wetlands and promote biodiversity.
However, critics have dismissed the raft of design compromises as “window dressing”.
Save Cork City, which has led opposition to the Lower Lee flood relief scheme’s reliance to date on raised quay walls, said that, as far as the group is aware, the fundamentals of what is proposed have not changed.
“We welcome any improvements in the design but we know this is the wrong scheme for Cork,” spokesman John Hegarty said.
“Fundamentally nothing has changed. A walls’ scheme is a walls’ scheme. Demountables are still walls which will still allowing fast-flowing flood water through the city.
“It is frightening to think that we will have to rely on an army of people to install over 1km of demountables.
“We will still see thousands of tonnes of concrete being pumped, and we will still be relying on over 40 pumping chambers.
“The fundamentals of this scheme are still wrong. We are concerned that so much time and investment is being put into this outdated broken scheme. There are many more viable alternatives.
“Our great concern is the damage this scheme would cause to the city, the unsustainable nature of it given that tidal barrier would be required by 2049. Objectors out there are not being heard.”
He was speaking after councillors were briefed on a series of significant design changes to the scheme, which has been made over the last 18-months based on feedback to the original scheme.
Mr Hegarty said that the overall scheme still relies on installing walls.
“We have become used to the lack of engagement and criticism but we are still happy to sit down with City Hall and the OPW and actually engage in real consultation,” he said.