Planning to be sought for €140m Cork flood defences

Planning permission for the first phase of Cork’s long-awaited €140m flood defences could be sought before the end of the month.

The news emerged last night as the OPW briefed city councillors in private session on the status of the overall scheme, and again ruled out the construction of a tidal barrage in the lower harbour on cost grounds.

The agency confirmed its intention to have the first phase of the scheme — the €6m Morrison’s Island public realm project, including flood defences, which is being co-funded by the OPW and the council — ready for the Part 8 planning process and public consultation by the end of the month. But work won’t begin on the scheme before next summer, pending permission, it said.

City council chief executive Ann Doherty told councillors at a delayed council meeting later that there will be extensive public consultation, including the presentation of detailed photographic images and a video walk-through on the Morrison’s Island project.

There are also plans to build a “to-scale physical replica” of the proposed flood defence walls and railings earmarked for the area, for display outside City Hall as part of that consultation.

The OPW said the Morrison’s Island project will include refurbishment of the quay walls, improvements to the entrance to Trinity footbridge, the creation of a new plaza outside Holy Trinity Church, upgrades to the Parnell Bridge plaza, and the creation of cycle parking with limited car parking.

It said the scheme has been developed to take advantage of the area’s southern aspect, to protect and integrate heritage aspects and to prioritise the pedestrian and cyclist experience.

Several councillors welcomed the OPW’s briefing. However, Solidarity councillor Fiona Ryan said she still has “serious concerns” about the viability of the OPW’s overall flood defence plan, and the agency’s dismissal of the tidal barrier alternative.

“We still are awaiting the OPW’s costings for their enormous figure of €1.8bn-plus [for a tidal barrier] and we aren’t likely to get those costings until they submit their own plans [for Morrison’s Island] under the Part 8 process, at which point there will be little opportunity for response,” said Ms Ryan.

 “If this happens, and no time is allowed for experts to review the OPW’s costings, then it will represent a continuation of the bullish approach to the public’s legitimate concerns about the economic and environmental impact the current OPW plans may represent.”

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