Call for Cork flood defence scheme to be peer reviewed

Flooding in Cork in March of last year.

City councillors have called for the OPW’s controversial flood defence scheme for Cork to be peer-reviewed amid confirmation that work on phase one is due to start this summer.

They also passed a resolution last night which will see the city council take responsibility for the delivery, as a single project and under one contract, the flood defence works and public realm upgrades in the Morrison’s Island area.

This will be the first element of the OPW’s overall €160m flood defence scheme in Cork — the largest scheme of its kind in the history of the State.

A resolution was brought before council last night in relation to how the project would be delivered and managed.

Councillors were told that works are proposed between Parliament Bridge and Parnell Bridge along Morrison’s Quay and Fr Mathew Quay, and along a short section of works at Union Quay, close to Trinity footbridge — both on the south channel of the River Lee.

“The proposed scheme will deliver a high quality public amenity space which also delivers the required standard of flood protection, and will protect against 70%-80% of the tidal flooding that affects the city centre island area,” the report said.

“The proposals also represent an opportunity to bring about comprehensive regeneration of this historic area, and to complete refurbishment of the existing quay walls to ensure their long-term integrity into the future.”

Delivering the flood defences and public realm works in a single contract, funded by the city and the OPW, with the city council acting as employer, would be more convenient and cost-effective, councillors heard.

But several councillors raised concerns about the OPW’s flood defence designs.

Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy said he wanted to see the final designs for Morrison’s Island embrace, reflect and celebrate the rich history and heritage of the area.

“If I see a bland plan, I will reject it,” he said.

Workers Party councillor Ted Tynan said the current design will lead to the destruction of the city’s heritage and the creation of a “concrete metropolis”.

Solidarity councillor Fiona Ryan, said the OPW’s “crude” plan was being rammed through, and she praised Save Cork City campaigners for highlighting alternatives.

However, councillors Sean Martin and Chris O’Leary said flood defences must to be delivered, with Mr Martin challenging those opposed to the current plan to suggest a viable alternative.

David Joyce, the council’s director of services in the environment and recreation directorate, said the resolution related to the management and delivery of the works, not the final design.

He said the Morrison’s Island plan has yet to go through the Part 8 planning process, which includes public consultation.

And he said pending the outcome of that process, it is hoped to start work on site this summer, and have the work complete before winter 2019.

Councillors voted 24-5 to pass the resolution,with Mr Tynan, Ms Ryan, Fianna Fáil’s Tim Brosnan, Marion O’Sullivan of Solidarity and Independent councillor Lil O’Donnell opposed.


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