Cork's historic riverside railings will be retained under revised flood defence plans, according to new images released by the Office of Public Works (OPW).
The OPW said the new images show that public feedback is factored into the designs.
The new drawings of the €150m Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme (LLFRS) show how historic railings on the city’s North Mall will be retained, with demountable barriers being deployed in this area at times of high flood risk only, and for a short period only.
Based on 2018 data on river flows and water levels on the river Lee, they would not have deployed for use at all that year.
The images also show how flood defences have been blended into new contours and landscaping in sensitive areas of Fitzgerald’s Park, and how flood defences will be provided around the Mardyke skatepark through landscaping, which will allow for the construction of a new tiered seating area overlooking the skatepark.
The images also show how flood defences will look in areas including Wandesford Quay, Bachelors Quay, Terence MacSwiney Quay, and the Lee Fields, where a wetlands zone will be created to boost biodiversity.
A spokesperson for the LLFRS project said the images demonstrate that, beyond protecting Cork City against flooding, the scheme results in “significant improvements to the public realm”.
“These latest images also clearly show the scheme has been open to, and taken on board, the views of the public throughout the ongoing evolution of the scheme’s design,” he said.
“There have been numerous public consultation phases undertaken by the scheme and the Cork public has engaged fully with it.
“The scheme is now at a point when after 13 years of study of the complex nature of flooding impacting Cork City, it is being finalised for submission to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to seek statutory approval."
The LLFRS scheme has faced intense opposition, led by the Save Cork City (SCC) campaign group, which has criticised the OPW’s overall approach to managing flood risk in the city, branding it a “walls scheme”.
SCC mounted a successful legal challenge against the city council’s Morrison’s Island public realm upgrade, which included elements of flood defence. That project has since been approved by An Bórd Pleanála.
SCC has also legally challenged a road upgrade into the city’s south docks because of the inclusion of an element of flood defences.
SCC has repeatedly called for a tidal barrier to be built in Cork Harbour, a proposal the OPW said it has examined in great detail, and has ruled out on cost, engineering, and environmental grounds.
The LLFRS features a blend of measures extending some 15km along the River Lee, from west of Ballincollig to the eastern edge of the city, including revised dam operating procedures, flood forecasting, restoration of quay walls, and the construction of direct defences in certain places, to protect over 2,100 properties against tidal and river flooding.