Save Cork City urged to withdraw challenge after latest flood threat

Fears of flooding did not materialise this morning
Save Cork City urged to withdraw challenge after latest flood threat

A swollen south channel of the River Lee at Fr Mathew Quay, Trinity Bridge. The tidal surge during high tide at 6;21am on Wednesday morning resulted in only very minor flooding/pooling on footpaths and roads in the city centre for a very brief period. Cork City centre is now open for business and road closures have been removed. Picture: Larry Cummins

Business leaders in Cork have called again on campaign group Save Cork City to withdraw its High Court legal challenge to a public realm upgrade which would remove most of the tidal flood risk to the city centre.

President of the Cork Business Association (CBA), Eoin O’Sullivan, said the city can’t continue to live or operate with the constant threat of tidal flooding. He was speaking after the city escaped significant flooding today morning thanks only to a last minute change of wind direction.

“We feel that they (Save Cork City) have had an impact on the planning process — for the positive,” he said.

“But now is the time to concede and let the city proceed with the Morrison’s Island flood defence scheme to safeguard our city’s future because this risk of flooding constantly hanging over the city centre is not helpful.

It is also damaging our international reputation. We have many firms across the world that are looking to invest in Cork and create thousands of jobs here and when they see water flowing down the South Mall it’s devastating for the city’s reputation

Up to 100 city council staff, gardaí, fire fighters and members of Cork City Civil Defence were in the city from 5am today monitoring water levels ahead of high tide at 6.21am.

With a tidal surge and strong south-easterly winds forecast, it was feared that these factors, combined with the high tide, would cause significant tidal flooding in the city centre, on a par with the devastating flood last October.

Water on the quays this morning in Cork City. A feared tidal flooding event did not appear after a change of wind direction. Picture: Larry Cummins
Water on the quays this morning in Cork City. A feared tidal flooding event did not appear after a change of wind direction. Picture: Larry Cummins

The high-tide was predicted to reach 2.1OD. When certain meteorological conditions combine with a high spring tide, a water level of 2.2 or 2.3OD is enough for the river Lee’s southern channel to overspill the quay walls at Morrison’s Quay.

Tidal flood waters will reach the South Mall when the levels reach 2.7OD. Water levels hit 2.8OD on October 20 last, causing devastating flooding to around 100 premises on Oliver Plunkett St.

Storm surge modelling

Storm surge modelling software predicted a 50-75cm increase in water levels on top of this morning’s high tide, fuelling fears that today’s flooding could have been as bad as October’s flood.

However, the forecasted galeforce south-easterly winds changed direction about two hours before high tide, and didn’t reach the speeds expected, which meant the storm surge wasn’t as severe as feared.

Water levels only reached 2.45OD, which led to minor spot flooding on the quays on Morrison’s Island. Road closures were lifted by 7am and the city opened for business.

Mr O’Sullivan said it was a very close call.

It’s very worrying for our city and for traders to be in this situation for the second time in two months. It causes undue stress

“We would like to thank Cork City Council for being extremely proactive over the last number of days notifying and working with the traders in the city to make sure they had protective measures in place but today the city is open for business.

“We would like to make sure that people are aware that Cork is open for business. We would like to welcome Christmas shoppers back to the city where traders are open and ready to welcome them.” 

After October’s flood, Cork Chamber, Cork Business Association, the Construction Industry Federation, the Cork branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland and Retail Excellence Ireland united to call on Save Cork City to withdraw its legal challenge to the Morrison’s Island public realm scheme.

The group proceeded with its application for a judicial review of An Bórd Pleanála’s grant of planning for the scheme last summer.

The case has been listed for hearing next May. Work cannot start on the scheme until the legal proceedings conclude.

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