Dutch ‘future-proofing’ of Cork flood relief plan proposed

Cork’s €140m flood relief project should be future-proofed by Dutch engineers who are world experts in flood scheme design.

Dutch ‘future-proofing’ of Cork flood relief plan proposed

That call came after hundreds of people formed a human chain in Cork City over the weekend and boats gathered on the River Lee in protest against the Office of Public Works’ (OPW) anti-flooding plans for the city.

Councillor Tim Brosnan, who is not associated with the Save Cork City campaign, expressed concerns that the OPW is “in a mad rush to pour concrete everywhere” and that the plans could be “too short-term in outlook”.

While conceding that the OPW has devised quality flooding defences in places such as Clonmel, he said the Dutch are world leaders in this area, while Irish engineers had a history of building on sections of the city that were known flood plains.

The Cork North Central councillor said flood scheme designers should note that an 18in wall with railings on top, running on both sides of the Lee from Parliament Bridge to Parnell Bridge, had successfully stopped flooding in the city centre until a flat pedestrian bridge to Morrison’s Island was built in the 1970s. He also cited the Inniscarra dam as the biggest risk to the city.

Save Cork City is arguing that the scheme will result in a “loss of character to the city, causing irreparable damage to the historic built environment”.

It is calling for a design review of the OPW scheme by an independent, multi-disciplinary design team.

A gathering of boats by Naomhóga Chorcaí at the Port of Cork as part of the protest on Saturday. Picture: Dan Linehan
A gathering of boats by Naomhóga Chorcaí at the Port of Cork as part of the protest on Saturday. Picture: Dan Linehan

On Wednesday, heritage, environmental, economic, and archaeological experts with concerns about the OPW plans will speak at a Save Cork City seminar at UCC. Under the scheme, walls and embankments will be built on sections of the river from the Lee Fields to the city centre, while quay walls will be raised on the north and south channels.

The OPW has held public awareness events and briefings for city and county councillors. However, Save Cork City criticised the level of public consultation and said most people don’t realise the extent or impact of the proposed works.

Last week, the OPW issued a statement in response to the campaign and said most of the options mooted had been examined by its team but were ruled out as they were not effective enough, would cause environmental damage, or cost too much.

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