A tidal barrage which would generate electricity is the most viable option to protect a West Cork town, according to councillors who want the Office of Public Works (OPW) to incorporate it into its flood prevention plans.
Clonakilty has been repeatedly flooded in recent years, the latest incident being on February 4.
Town councillors now want to revive a plan to build a barrage at the narrowest point of the estuary between Gilman’s Point and Inchydoney Rd.
The town council acquired planning permission for a barrage in the 1990s, but didn’t proceed with it due to funding problems.
However, the council has now voted to get the project costed and believes it’s a viable proposition.
Humphrey Deegan, a director of the often flooded Imperial Hotel and a town councillor, said he was concerned that OPW plans to build flood defence walls might backfire.
“I fear that if these walls were ever breached it could turn the town centre into a giant swimming pool and it would take ages to get the water out,” Mr Deegan said.
During last week’s flood, as he battled to prevent sewerage flowing back up the hotel’s toilets, Mr Deegan used expletives as he criticised the OPW for what he claimed was its inaction.
The fallout from the flooding was the main topic at the town council’s meeting this week as members decided to revive the barrage plan.
“The barrage would only be a couple of hundred metres across the estuary,” Mr Deegan said.
“We had an Environmental Impact Statement prepared for it before which showed it would have a minor impact on wildlife. Anyway, I’m sorry but people have to come ahead of birds,” he said.
He maintains that a barrage may now be cost-effective because of technology advances.
“I’ll bite my fingers off if the town council’s plan (for the barrage) isn’t cheaper and better than the OPW one,” Mr Deegan said.
He added that the power harnessed by a tidal barrage could be sold onto the national grid, which would therefore make it cost-effective.
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