'Sooner we put boots on the ground the better' — Minister wants progress on Cork city flood defences

Patrick O’Donovan also visited the scheme's main opponents, Save Cork City.
'Sooner we put boots on the ground the better' — Minister wants progress on Cork city flood defences

Flooding on Fr Mathew Quay in Cork city last November. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The minister with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) said it’s time to get on with delivery of the €150m Cork flood defence scheme - the single largest investment in flood defences in the history of the state.

Patrick O’Donovan was speaking during a visit to Cork city today, where he met with the Lord Mayor, the CEO of Cork City Council, and with representatives of Cork Chamber and the Cork Business Association (CBA), to discuss progress on the Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme (LLFRS).

He also visited Morrison’s Island, where the scheme's main opponents, Save Cork City, have mounted a legal challenge against a €6.5m public realm upgrade which includes flood defences.

Fully backing the design proposals, Mr O'Donovan said: “The sooner we can put boots on the ground and deliver it the better.” 

He said he respects the right of people to object and said such input can improve schemes.

“But there also has to be an endgame. And the endgame has to come at some stage soon," he said. 

"Businesses have a right to trade in an environment where they are not going to be flooded.

We can have all the judicial reviews and all of the appeals and all of the re-examinations and reviews in the world — it doesn’t change the fact that this city is in a very vulnerable situation at the moment and it needs to be protected.

“We can go around on the merry-go-round for another few years, but it will not change the fact that the river levels are rising, sea levels are rising, the frequency of storms is putting places like this at a risk they haven’t faced before.

“And we have to ask ourselves are we satisfied to allow that to happen notwithstanding the fact that people have a right to object."

Delays, he said, add to the cost, increase the risk to people, property and businesses, and threaten Cork's reputation as a city in which to live and invest.

The LLFRS documents should be ready for the ministerial consent process towards the end of this year or early next year. That consent process could take up to nine months.

Tender documents will be prepared in parallel so that pending approval, the OPW can award contracts quickly. The work will be delivered in phases over four to six years.

SCC’s application for a judicial review of Bórd Pleanála’s approval of the Morrison’s Island scheme is due to be heard in the High Court in November.

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