Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin says a tidal barrier proposal by the Save Cork City (SCC) Group as part of its response to the €140m Cork flood defence scheme needs to be re-examined.
SCC has called for the construction of a tidal barrier at Little Island to reduce that tidal flood risk and a number of upstream mitigation measures to minimise fluvial or river-related flood risk. The OPW has previously claimed a multi-million euro Thames-style tidal barrier is not economically feasible.
However, Mr Martin says the issue of the barrier needs to be professionally and seriously examined.
“I think we must look long and hard at the barrier idea,” Mr Martin said.
“The whole programme of building walls for flood defences has limitations. It is going to take 10 years to complete all of that.
“Ultimately, the issue of the barrier should be professionally and seriously examined.”
Mr Martin said there are long-term implications for this type of scheme.
“Can we really develop the docklands without a proper plan for the tidal flows and protection from flooding? I don’t think we can,” he said.
“Are we really going to build walls the whole way down [Cork harbour]?”
“We need to examine this — I haven’t heard any technical or engineering objections to the idea of a tidal barrier. People simply say that there are cost issues. But we have not, in my view, had any satisfactory technical reasons or engineering reasons as to why it shouldn’t happen.”
The SCC has warned that a ring of high walls and pump chambers around Cork city centre will destroy the city’s historical landscape.
Spokesman for SCC Seán Antóin Ó Muirí said they are delighted that Mr Martin is supporting the option of a tidal barrier to deal with Cork’s flooding issues.
“From technical analysis, it has been established that the construction of a barrier at the exit of Lough Mahon can resolve both the tidal and fluvial issues, due to Lough Mahon’s storage capacity,” said Mr Ó Muirí.
“Building a barrier would do more than simply protect the city from flooding, it would protect the city economically. Up to 10 years of upheaval in the city centre would set Cork back irrevocably, undermining all the great work that has been undertaken in recent years to enhance trade and tourism.”
The Office of Public Works (OPW) has defended its estimate that a tidal barrier for Cork City would cost at least €450m. It says such a barrier would do nothing to prevent fluvial or river flooding of Cork city centre.
Studies by the OPW found that building a tidal barrier would prevent €40m worth of flood damage over the 50-year lifespan of the scheme, so any tidal barrier would have to cost less than €40m to be cost-effective.
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