Ahead of a major public forum tonight on the €140m project, a senior OPW engineer said while they are open to changing the look and feel of defences in certain areas, they will not be scrapping the overall design concept for the massive scheme.
OPW assistant chief engineer Michael Collins insisted that direct defences are the only “viable and cost-effective way” to protect the city from extreme flooding.
The plan, unveiled last December, includes a package of measures designed to protect almost 3,000 properties.
However, campaign group Save Cork City has led criticism of the proposed direct defences, calling instead for the construction of a tidal barrage east of the city and for natural flood management measures — farming the flood — west of the city.
Mr Collins insisted that the OPW will not drop the direct defences element, and assured that wall defences, where used, will be raised to no more than 1.2m.
He ruled out construction of a tidal barrage in the harbour which he said could cost up to €1bn — the State’s entire flood defence budget for the next decade and way beyond the current value of benefits of the scheme, which is under €200m.
Save Cork City spokeswoman Polly Magee said they will be calling later for the entire scheme to be subjected to an independent international review.
It has organised a range events across the weekend to highlight its campaign, including a workshop on how to make submissions to the OPW ahead of the scheme’s extended deadline of April 7.