The OPW has agreed to re-examine the cost of building a tidal barrage as it finalises the design of Cork’s €140m flood defence scheme — the largest single investment in flood defences in the history of the state.
It follows months of campaigning by opponents who have criticised the scheme’s reliance on direct defences and raised quay walls.
Save Cork City has argued a tidal barrage could be built for €135m at Little Island, which combined with upstream mitigation measures, would remove the need for direct flood defences in the city centre.
But the OPW has ruled out building the barrage on cost grounds, claiming it could cost between €450m and €1bn and would do nothing to protect the city from fluvial, or river flooding.
However, just weeks after Solidarity TD Mick Barry and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called for the tidal barrier issue to be re-examined, Ezra McManamon, a chartered engineer with the OPW, said they have decided to look at the issue again as part of their consideration of the 1,250 submissions received from the public on the initial design.
“We looked at the tidal barrage issue before, but we are looking at it again, to firm up, or to confirm our views,” he said.
“A new location has been proposed and will we take a particular look at that proposal. But I would remind people that a barrage will only protect the city from tidal flooding which is most frequent in the case of Cork. But fluvial flooding is more severe, and results in more damage, from a cost point of view. And depending on the location, there could be very significant environmental impacts given that there are a number of Natura 2000 sites in the harbour which have a very high level of environmental protection.”
Advancing a project that would impact on such sites would be difficult, he said.
Jer Buckley, PRO of the Irish National Flood Forum, said people have already seen the enormous benefits of OPW schemes in Fermoy, Mallow and Clonmel.
Rob Horgan of Café Velo on George’s Quay said he has seen the terrible impact of flooding on businesses and wants work on the scheme to start quickly.
Mr McManamon, meanwhile, said responses to issues raised during the public consultation should be ready by September.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved