The two main business groups in Cork have united in calls for the immediate delivery of the city's €140m flood defence scheme.
Cork Chamber and the Cork Business Association (CBA) said the various agencies responsible for delivering the Lower Lee flood relief scheme should now “move the scheme forward as a matter of priority”.
They were reacting to the release by the Office of Public Works (OPW) in mid-September of new images which show how the scheme has evolved following public consultation.
The OPW and Cork City Council said they hope the new images would “assuage genuine misunderstanding” about the single largest investment in flood defences in the history of the state and also “challenge significant misrepresentation” of it.
But Save Cork City (SCC), which successfully mounted a legal challenge against the Morrison’s Island public realm upgrade and its integrated flood defences, still insists a tidal barrier is the only way to protect the city.
SCC has also embarked on a legal challenge of a €6m road upgrade, designed to help facilitate development in the city’s south docks, over the inclusion of an element of flood defences. That investment is on hold.
Lawrence Owens, the CBA’s CEO, said the city now has a flood defence scheme which effectively delivers the basic requirement of flood protection but also encompasses a massive public realm upgrade which includes the much-needed work to the crumbling quay walls.
"If I had to use a popular catchphrase I would say: let’s get the flood defences done," he said.
Chamber CEO, Conor Healy, said it's clear from the new images that key recommendations, including from Cork Chamber, have been taken on board.
“Having spent countless hours and multiple meetings engaging and advocating with various Ministers, OPW, local authorities and other officials and experts responsible for flood defence investment over many years, Cork now has a scheme of significant merit and government commitment to the necessary funding. It is time to move this essential project forward to delivery,” he said.
Extending over 15km from west of Ballincollig to the eastern edge of the city centre island, the scheme, which includes a blend of flood forecasting, revised dam management procedures and some direct defences, will protect 900 homes and 1,200 businesses from tidal and river flooding.
It is hoped the Morrison’s Island scheme will be completed first to ensure early protection for the vast majority of the city centre, with the rest delivered in phases to minimise disruption. The entire scheme is estimated to be completed by 2026.