The Office of Public Works has defended the public consultation on the Cork flood defence project and insists that the images it has produced of the defences are an accurate representation of what it plans to build.
It follows criticism from the Save Cork City (SCC) campaign group in response to the OPW’s release of another series of images showing the proposed Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme (LLFRS) defences on the North Mall, on Wandesford Quay, Bachelors Quay, Fitzgerald's Park, and on the Lee Fields.
SCC spokesman, John Hegarty, said people do not feel they have been part of a consultation process which would have affected the final designs of the €150m scheme — the single largest investment in flood defences in the history of the state.
“There have been a few additions to this scheme but fundamentally the scheme hasn’t changed and the issues we have with the scheme are still the same,” he said.
He said those opposed to the OPW’s approach will not be happy if the scheme progresses because they believe the city will not have the right flood protection.
“This scheme has so many flaws, and questions over it now I don’t know how they’re pursuing it really,” he said.
However, a spokesman for the OPW said the scheme has been in planning for 13 years and has included extensive and genuine public consultation.
He said a comparison of images produced in 2016, in 2017 with the latest images proves that public feedback has been taken on board, concerns have been listened to and changes have been made, especially on the North Mall, Fitzgerald’s Park and on Lee Fields.
“The consultation we engaged in was genuine, we were interested in what people had to say and we were always willing to make changes, subject to certain limits,” he said.
Proposals for Fitzgerald’s Park have changed from an embankment and wall to a reprofiling of the landscape to create a more natural park environment, he said.
Concerns about the impact on heritage features on the North Mall have led to the retention of the river railings here, the lowering of pavement and brickwork to expose more of the railings, the use of demountable flood barriers, and the retention of as many of the mature trees as possible.
Images of the repaired quay walls on Bachelors Quay show the area of the highest raised defences anywhere in the city — about 1.2m or about adult elbow height.
“We hope these images, in particular, debunk the idea of the river being closed off from the city. The opposite is, in fact, the case,” he said.
And he said the images of Wandesford Quay show how existing masonry will be maintained.
It is hoped that the scheme will be finalised for submission to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, to seek statutory approval, in the first half of next year.