A flood defence scheme for one of Cork city’s most historic areas is set to begin next year at a cost of more than €20m.
The Office of Public Works (OPW) is expected to begin the €20.5m Blackpool Flood Relief Scheme once the Department of Public Expenditure is satisfied with the contents of an environmental impact assessment, the Minister in charge of the body said.
OPW Minister Patrick O’Donovan said information is currently being prepared and is expected to be provided to Public Expenditure Minister, Michael McGrath, in the next few weeks.
“The estimated total project cost of the scheme is €20.5m, based on current design, but is subject to change following the completion of the detailed design and tender process. Once the scheme is confirmed, the detailed design will be completed and a tender competition held to appoint a works contractor. It is currently anticipated that construction will commence on the scheme by mid-2021,” Mr O’Donovan said in response to a query from Cork North Central TD, Colm Burke.
Despite vehement opposition from some environmental activists, who say that local wildlife will be impacted detrimentally by the planned scheme, local business figures hailed the timeline.
Long-time business owner in Blackpool, Jer Buckley, said it would be a boon to small businesses devastated in recent years by repeated flooding.
“There has to be a balance between wildlife and the needs of the community, and I believe the scheme provides that. I cannot emphasise enough how overdue this scheme is. People in Blackpool have been flooded over and over again, with livelihoods and homes destroyed.
“The OPW is not intent on coming to Cork to destroy it, with respect to the objectors to the scheme. Such schemes have rejuvenated towns like Fermoy and Mallow, with the threat of devastating floods taken away. With the threat from climate change and increased weather events, Blackpool cannot wait any longer.” The Draft Catchment Flood Risk Management Plan for Cork was published in February 2010, and identified a preferred option for the alleviation of flood risk in Cork City along the Lower Lee.
It did not identify a scheme for Blackpool at the time, but significant flooding occurred in the village in 2012 and highlighted the need for flood protection measures, the OPW said.
The Blackpool scheme will consist of flood defence measures and conveyance improvements in Blackpool, in particular along Commons Road and in Blackpool Village, according to contractors Arup.
Environmental voices have opposed the proposed scheme, expressing concerns that it includes culverts for roughly 350m of the river, and will adversely affect wildlife.
Better land management further upstream could prevent the River Bride from overflowing and flooding Blackpool, they say.
Otters and other wildlife such as brown trout, lamprey and eel will indeed be adversely impacted, the OPW has said.