OPW says no to Cork city tidal barrier

The Office of Public Works has completely dismissed the option of a tidal barrage to prevent flooding in Cork, writes Kevin O'Neill.

The OPW has also moved to dismantle arguments made by a new campaign group that Cork’s long-awaited flood defences will damage the city.

Following another day when Cork businesses were on edge during a 24-hour flood alert, the OPW issued an extensive response to the campaign, ‘Save Cork City’, which has called for a radical rethink of the flood plans.

The group plans to hold a “human chain” protest in the city tomorrow.

Pedestrians negotiate the tidal flooding on Trinity pedestrian bridge in Cork City on Thursday morning. Pic: Larry Cummins

The OPW dismissed the suggestion that a tidal barrage, similar to that used in Cardiff, is a practical solution to Cork’s flooding issues.

While a barrage could defend against flooding, a spokesperson for the office said it is ‘not economically feasible’ at a cost of ‘at least €400 million.’

In total, the existing scheme will come in at €140 million, including construction costs, fees, land acquisition, compensation, site investigation and future maintenance.

The addition of new concrete walls in city centre areas has been a particular bone of contention, with claims they will damage the aesthetics of the City’s riverside. The OPW said the proposed walls ‘would not exceed 1,200 mm’, which is roughly four feet.

Grenville Place had been noted as an area of concern, with drawings depicting high walls, though the OPW statement suggests this does not reflect reality.

Earth banks and glass panels will protect Fitzgerald’s Park from flooding.

“The wall height will be consistent with other walls in the city and will not dramatically change a pedestrian’s view of the river,” it said. Concrete has also been favoured over glass in many cases due to cost, according to the OPW.

Concrete walls cost roughly €950 per metre in comparison to €2,000 per metre for glass, the statement said.

It added, though, that maintenance is also a concern, with glass becoming ‘shabby looking’ in a short time and requiring more frequent upkeep.

The latest plans were published in early December, two years behind schedule, with hopes that work will begin before the end of 2017. Submissions can be made until February 17.

This article originally appeared in the Evening Echo

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