The Office of Public Works (OPW) has extended by a month its deadline for submissions on the largest flood defence scheme in the history of the State.
Amid mounting criticism of the €150m Lower lee Flood Relief Scheme to minimise flood risk in Cork city, the OPW confirmed yesterday that it has extended the period for public submissions until March 16.
“The decision has been taken following requests from various parties to extend the date and the OPW is happy to facilitate these requests,” a spokesperson said. She also confirmed that around 50 submissions have been made so far.
The news came after 300 people attended a public meeting in UCC organised by the Save Cork City. It has warned it could turn the city into a storm drain, and has criticised the design of flood defence walls it says will damage historic city quay walls and destroy views.
However, the OPW has defended the project which has been designed to minimise flood risk for about 2,000 properties from a one-in-a-century flood event, and to reduce flood risk to a further 1,079 properties not at immediate risk of severe flooding.
It has ruled out calls from campaigners for the construction of a tidal barrage in the lower harbour, and has said the current proposal is the only viable solution. It said the proposal has been designed with due regard to engineering requirements, and to the city’s heritage.
Lord mayor Des Cahill, and his Fine Gael colleagues, councillors John Buttimer and Laura McGonigle, have now sought a “comprehensive public meeting” to be facilitated by the city council and the OPW to further discuss the flood defence plans.
“We spoke with representatives of the OPW at the meeting in UCC and they indicated that they would be willing to attend. We also feel that the ESB are important players in this regard and that an invitation should be issued to them as well,” said Mr Buttimer.
The councillors have jointly signed a motion, to be discussed at next Monday’s city council meeting, calling for the public meeting.
The first phase of the flood defence scheme is due to start later this year.
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