The Office of Public Works (OPW) has released new images of its proposed Cork flood defence scheme which it says prove yet again that views of the river Lee will not be blocked as critics of the scheme have claimed.
The design team said the latest images, which include views of the Lee Fields, Sunday’s Well, Sullivan’s Quay, French’s Quay, and the Grand Parade, confirm the commitment they made following the various stages of public consultation on the €150m Lower Lee flood relief scheme (LLFRS) that they would reflect, on an ongoing basis, the various design changes that would arise as the design evolved.
The agency also confirmed that these images represent the final design proposals for these areas and will form part of the formal submission to the Minister for Finance for consideration for approval of the scheme - the single largest investment in flood defences in the history of the state - by the middle of next year.
The latest images show 'before and after' views of various areas and show how:
- at Sunday’s Well, the existing quay wall will be rebuilt and widened to protect the road from flooding and how one of eight new river access points will be built at the Mardyke across the river;
- parts of the Lee Fields will be landscaped to incorporate flood defence berms, with improved planting to promote biodiversity, and how a new riverside shelter with a living roof is proposed at a new mini-plaza area.
- historic railings on Sullivan's Quay will be preserved, with demountable barriers deployed only during flood alerts.
“The images again demonstrate that the views of the river are not restricted or its use curtailed, as has been claimed. In fact, there will be more access points for river users once the scheme goes ahead,” a spokesperson for the LLFRS design team said.
“Amongst the many misrepresentations of what the scheme actually proposes is the claim that walls on French’s Quay would be demolished. This is completely incorrect. All that is being proposed is the repair, cleaning and grouting of the existing quay walls.
“As can be seen from the images, there is no effect on the view and enjoyment of the river.
“Further east from South Gate Bridge, the view from Grand Parade to Sullivan’s Quay shows that the historic quay railings will be preserved as they will be at North Mall, where they will also be fully exposed for the first time in years. Claims to the contrary are again simply incorrect.”
The LLFRS, which has been in development for over a decade, is facing trenchant opposition from campaign group Save Cork City (SCC), which has branded it a “walls scheme”.
It has repeatedly called for the construction of a tidal barrier in the lower harbour.
The OPW has examined this option and ruled it out now on cost, environmental and technical grounds, and said even if a tidal barrier is required in time, raised quay walls will also be required.
SCC has mounted legal challenges which have delayed the delivery of two public realm schemes in Cork city which both feature elements of flood defences.
It has challenged the city council’s south docklands road improvement scheme and is currently mounting a High Court challenge over An Bórd Pleanála's decision last June to approve the €6m Morrison’s Island public realm and flood defence scheme which has been designed to remove an estimated 80% of the flood threat to the city centre.
After October’s devastating flood event, SCC called on the city to provide temporary flood defences at Morrison’s Island even though it has opposed the LLFRS proposal to use demountable flood barriers on the North Mall.