The controversial Cork city flood defence proposals and the ambitious Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Study (CMATS) are to be reviewed by a new ‘climate action committee’ which is to be established by the city council.
Councillors have also declared a climate and biodiversity emergency in the city and have agreed to instruct the council chief executive, Ann Doherty, to prepare a trees and biodiversity policy within six months for approval by the council.
It is hoped the new committee - whose remit will include prioritising transport, energy and flood protection measures which are consistent with a sustainable approach to the climate emergency - will be set up and hold its first meeting within three months.
It follows the unanimous approval of a detailed motion proposed by the Green Party which came before the first full regular meeting of the new city council members on Monday night.
It also marks an immediate impact by the four Green Party councillors who won seats in the local elections - the party’s first representation on the council in a decade.
The party’s council leader, Dan Boyle, welcomed the unanimous agreement of the motion and said he is already engaging with council officials on the mechanics of establishing the committee.
He said he expects it may include up to 11 members drawn from the council, but also from civic society.
Among the first issues it is likely to consider are the OPW’s flood defence plans and the National Transport Authority’s CMATS plan which includes long-term proposals for a €1bn light-rail system for Cork.
Mr Boyle said he expects the committee to examine in detail all aspects of the €140m Lower Lee Flood Relief plan - the largest flood defence scheme of its kind in the history of the state.
It will include a specific focus on the Morrison’s Island element - which has been split from the overall scheme to be delivered as a stand-alone project - and which is currently being considered by An Bórd Pleanála after controversy over the Part 8 planning process.
Mr Boyle said it may be open to the committee to recommend that that planning be withdrawn or that a stay be put on the project pending an assessment by the new committee.
Party colleague, Oliver Moran, also welcomed the unanimous approval by the council of their motion and said the declaration of the emergency was a significant first step for the city.
“This will not just be a subset of the council’s environment directorate. It will be an independent standalone committee that will have a broad remit across all areas of council,” he said.
It will also mean that all decisions that are made will be seen through the lens of climate and biodiversity, through the lens of the climate emergency, in order to ensure that we take the actions that are required.
“It is important that this committee is action-orientated. We hope that it will involve everybody, all parties and civil society too.
"This has to be about one movement if we are going to overcome the challenges."