Campaigners urged to reconsider legal threat against Cork city flood plan

Save Our Bride Otters campaign confirmed they hoped to appoint a legal team soon to mount a judicial review of the river Bride flood relief scheme, which is designed to protect Blackpool from flooding
Campaigners urged to reconsider legal threat against Cork city flood plan

The Bride River at Orchard Court, Blackpool: Fine Gael TD Colm Burke said he had concerns that delays to the flood relief scheme arising out of a High Court legal challenge could threaten potential investment in and around Blackpool. Picture: Larry Cummins

A Government TD has pleaded with campaigners to reconsider their threat of legal action against a €20m flood defence plan in Cork city.

Fine Gael TD for Cork North Central Colm Burke spoke out as those leading the Save Our Bride Otters campaign confirmed they hoped to appoint a legal team soon to mount a judicial review of the river Bride flood relief scheme, which is designed to protect Blackpool from flooding.

Mr Burke said he had concerns that delays to the scheme arising out of a High Court legal challenge could threaten potential investment in and around Blackpool.

“I would plead with those involved in this campaign not to go down this route,” he said.

If this goes to a judicial review, you could be looking at a delay of between 12 to 18-months. That could mean no new businesses opening in Blackpool in that time.

“People won’t be able to get flood insurance, and as a result, financial institutions won’t approve loans or finance to anyone considering opening a new business."

Judicial review funding

He made his comments as the campaign group announced it had crowd-sourced some €6,000 of its €20,000 target to fund a judicial review.

The group was set up after it was announced on March 11 that Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath had given his consent to proceed with the scheme, which is designed to protect 293 properties – 206 residential and 87 commercial – from a one in 100-year flood event.

That decision triggered a 12-week period during which the scheme could be challenged by way of a judicial review of its decision-making process.

Environmentalists have criticised the flood relief plan, which includes the culverting of a 350m stretch of the river Bride.

The Save Our Bride Otters campaign held its first online public meeting on the issue last Friday. 

Chris Moody, who lives alongside the Bride and who has been campaigning for years for better treatment of the river and its habitat, told those who attended that the flooding which hit Blackpool between 2010 and 2013, was the result of extensive re-channelling and culverting on the Bride over many years.

The failure of trash screens on the river, which have since been removed, also played a role in the flood events, he said.

John McCarthy, an engineer, said the OPW had examined a cheaper feasible option of storing floodwaters within the catchment and releasing slower and reduced flows through Blackpool village – an approach he said would avoid destruction of otter habitat.

Key habitat

Dr Paddy Sleeman, a zoologist from UCC, said the Bride, and particularly the stretch earmarked for culverting, is a key habitat for otters, particularly for female otters and their pups, who prefer the smaller tributaries of the Lee rather than the Lee itself.

He said in the most recent otter population survey, 11 otters were identified along the Lee – eight of which, four male and four female,
lived on the Bride.

Campaign spokesman Chris Moody thanked people for donating and said they hoped to appoint a legal team to mount the judicial review soon.

But Mr Burke said the OPW and its experts have examined and analysed all the options and have determined that the current scheme is the optimum solution.

“All possible measures that can be done will be done and normal life will return to the river within 12 months,” he said.

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