The OPW has dismissed calls for an independent international review of the €140m Cork flood defence plan.
Its engineers told about 300 people who attended a public forum on the project hosted by Lord Mayor Des Cahill last night that any such review would simply delay a project which is set to provide flood protection to over 2,000 properties.
OPW engineer Ezra McManamon said the outcome of any such review would likely endorse the existing plan, which includes raised embankments and raised quay walls in the city.
Save Cork City campaigners grilled the engineers, and their consultants, Arup, on the scheme.
Architect Polly Magee criticised the level of public consultation and engagement to date and said: “Tonight is the first sign of democracy in this process.”
The campaigners branded the direct defences as ugly and lacking vision, and warned the city will face a decade of disruption caused by the construction works.
Civil engineer Michael Ryan said building walls sets a precedent for future flood protection, and warned that once built, these walls will only get higher.
Architect Sean Antoin O Muiri said the Lee is Cork’s most important asset and gives the city its character. Building a sea of concrete will destroy that, he warned.
However, the OPW and its engineers defended the plan as the only viable and cost-effective solution, and criticised the campaigners for their rhetoric.
Mr McManamon said the scheme will reduce flood levels, and that based on the submissions to date, changes have been made to the design of the scheme at the Lee Road, Patrick’s Bridge, and Grand Parade areas.
Arup’s Ken Leahy said they are open to proposals in relation to the look and feel of defences in areas such as Fitzgerald’s Park, North Mall, and Sullivan’s Quay.
Mr McManamon ruled out construction of a tidal barrage in the harbour, which he said could cost up to €1bn.
Save Cork City will host a range of events across the weekend to highlight their ongoing opposition to the flood defence project.
They are planning to hold workshops to encourage more people to make submissions to the OPW before the April 7 deadline.
The OPW said it has received 225 submissions on the scheme to date.
See Monday’s ‘Irish Examiner’ for a special report on the flood defence plan
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