Venice and Cork, as we have been reminded this month, are cities facing a common threat. Last week’s high tide inundation left 80% of Venice under water; by sheer good luck, this week, Cork city centre was spared devastating deluges.
Work on the Venetian solution — its MOSE flood defence programme — began in 2003 and remains unfinished, thanks in part to incompetent embezzlement and incompetent management.
Its completion date is currently expected to be 2023, when it will have cost an estimated €5.496bn, breathtakingly north of the €1.3bn forecast — or guessed — at the outset.
But work on defence plans in both cities has been stalled too by claims and counter-claims about proposed schemes, court actions, peer reviews, plan revisions, and yet more argument.
The only certainty has been delay. Back in 2014, Cork City Council’s then director of service reported that plans for flood defences were underway, but warned that completion might take “several” years.
He could be accused of nothing but unwarranted optimism.
Given the complexity of the task Cork faces — what is needed, and what is proposed, is the largest and most expensive (at €140m) flood-defence system in the country’s history — it was never going to be problem-free.
Perhaps — and that is a whopping perhaps — there is time for just one more review, by an independent and authoritative specialist acceptable to the city council, the Government, and those objecting to the plan on the table.