Cork City flood plan ‘undercosted by €76m’

Office of Public Works (OPW) plans for walls and embankments — controversial elements in its Cork city flood defence scheme — could cost €76m more than the agency’s published estimate, a report claims.

Cork City flood plan ‘undercosted by €76m’

The OPW estimates the capital cost of the walls and embankments, including construction fees, land acquisition, site investigation, and survey costs, at just over €128.5m.

However, MCC Quantity Surveyors, which was engaged by campaign group Save Cork City (SCC) to review the costs of the largest flood defence project in the history of the State, says the OPW’s €49.4m ‘measured items’ costs for the walls alone have been “significantly underestimated” — by as much as 61%.

The firm said it costed the OPW’s drawings for this part of the scheme at €81m.

MCC said design development would cost €7m more that the OPW’s estimate and contingencies would cost €9m more.

MCC say its analysis also includes 3% annual construction tender price inflation over the project’s 10-year delivery timeframe, which pushes the overall capital cost to just over €204m — €76m more than the OPW’s estimate.

It is the second report in a week to question OPW figures on the Lower Lee flood relief scheme.

SCC, which is leading opposition to the OPW’s plan and campaigning for a tidal barrier, asked MCC to review the OPW’s cost estimate, and produce its own detailed cost estimate for the proposed raised quay walls, embankments, pumping systems, and demountable barriers. MCC said it based its review on the OPW’s publicly available drawings.

The firm said it found there was a “disparity between the level of detail on the drawings and the detail on the [OPW’s] estimate”.

“The items in the OPW report seemed to be aggregations of the work shown on the drawings where several items of work are accounted for in a single rate,” said MCC.

One of the main items of difference is the rate for the pumping chambers, which the OPW estimated at €75,000 per chamber, the MCC report says. MCC said it based it estimates on an actual pump chamber design, and included sheet piling, excavation, concrete work, services diversions, and other items.

“The total cost estimated per chamber is €381,000. This results in a net difference of €14.4m on this item alone,” it said.

The OPW was not available for comment yesterday.

However, Cork City Council said the overall flood defence scheme is the culmination of 11 years of detailed scientific and engineering study carried out by experts.

“It is unfortunate that a lot of misinformation has been put into the public domain about the OPW proposals,” a spokesperson said.

“The scheme is being publicised [inaccurately] by an opposition group [Save Cork City] simply as a ‘walls’ scheme, which will form a permanent barrier separating the citizens of the city from the river.

“This is disingenuous, and is an unfair impression of the proposals. The truth is that the actual proposed solution consists of a range of holistic measures.”

City councillors are tonight due to discuss the Morrison’s Island regeneration scheme, which seeks to integrate some of the OPW’s proposed flood defences into a multi-million revamp of the quay.

Almost 1,400 submissions from the public were lodged.

SCC described the revamp last night as a “Trojan horse” being used by the OPW to start the walls scheme in the city.

“We believe the city will never recover from the unreasonable damage inflicted by OPW and sanctioned by Cork City Council should the ‘walls scheme’ start at Morrison’s Island,” it said.

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