700 flood plan concerns ‘dismissed’ by council, say campaigners

Campaigners opposed to OPW flood defence plans in Cork city have expressed concerns about the “dismissal” of 700 submissions on a quay revamp which will include integrated flood defences.

Morrisons Island flooded in 2017

Cork City Council said 72 of the 1,400 submissions on the €6m Morrison’s Island public realm project sanctioned on Monday cited concerns about the loss of parking spaces. It has responded with a package of measures, including the addition of 30 new spaces nearby.

But Save Cork City (SCC) said, by contrast, 700 submissions seemed to have made no difference as councillors sanctioned the proceed on Monday.

The scheme will integrate flood defences with a substantial public realm upgrade between Parnell Bridge and Parliament Bridge, and will include a viewing platform over the River Lee, three new public plazas, and a mini-boardwalk. The works will remove 80% of the tidal flooding threat from the city centre.

But SCC said the apparent dismissal of almost half the submissions was disrespectful of the democratic process.

Green Party representative Oliver Moran said real questions now hang over the Part 8 process’s ability to listen to people.

The section of the city council report that dealt with their concerns was essentially a rebuttal of their proposals, rather than engaging with them and constructively listening to what they had to say,” he said.

“Contrast that to the efforts made to accommodate the submissions that called for more parking. That’s an incredibly dismissive attitude to what is supposed to be a public consultation.”

His party colleague, Lorna Bogue, said the reason given for discounting the 700 submissions was because they mentioned the OPW’s Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme (LLFRS).

But it’s unclear if they also mentioned Morrison’s Island. If they did, then it was incorrect to remove them from the process,” she said.

However, in a detailed Part 8 report on the Morrison’s Island scheme, officials said 746 email submissions came via an objection platform developed by SCC, and that it could link 68% of all submissions to the group.

It said many related to the €140m LLFRS — a separate project being pursued through a separate process.

It said SCC’s online objection platform used outdated photomontages and added: “The website provided a biased narrative around the Morrison’s Island scheme, without offering the visitor the opportunity of view details of the proposal.”

It addressed a range of issues raised in the submissions about tidal barriers, natural flood management, dam management, calls for an independent review, climate change, and OPW flood management experience, and recommended there be no change to the Morrison’s Island scheme, as proposed.

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