State concedes in challenge to 'crazy' flood plan for Blackpool

Save Our Bride Otters (SOBO) said that the State conceded that there was insufficient public consultation on the flood scheme
State concedes in challenge to 'crazy' flood plan for Blackpool

The Bride River at Orchard Court, Blackpool in Cork. This section was set to be covered in concrete as part of the flood protection measures for the area. Photo: Larry Cummins

The Government has conceded its case in a judicial review against a flood scheme brought by an advocacy group in Cork.

Save Our Bride Otters (SOBO) said last night that the State conceded on one of the grounds brought by the group – that there was insufficient public consultation on the flood scheme.

The group sought the review after permission was granted by the Minister of Public Expenditure to the Office of Public Works (OPW) to proceed with the Blackpool Flood Relief Scheme.

SOBO was objecting to the scheme on several grounds, including the culverting of 350m of the River Bride.

The group said the scheme “would have left a village that was built on the banks of a river, without a river. Save Our Bride Otters had no option but to challenge the minister's decision.” 

A statement from the group added: “We want the best flooding solution for Blackpool - a solution that not only protects Blackpool village but enhances it. This is what the village deserves.” 

The river Bride in Blackpool homes a number of animals, including the grey heron, Irish dipper and the Eurasian otter. SOBO say it has “unquantifiable value to the people of Blackpool, an area already lacking in green space”.

Chris Moody, from SOBO, said that what happens next is up to the OPW and the Minister for Public Expenditure. He told the Irish Examiner they have said all along that there are a number of other options.

A before and after image of the flood defences for Orchard Court in Blackpool.
A before and after image of the flood defences for Orchard Court in Blackpool.

The group said the OPW "has identified three other viable alternatives (in the Scheme Options Report) to protect Blackpool from flooding including upstream storage.

"Upstream storage was the cheapest of the options considered by the OPW and it would reduce the need for hard defences on the scheme and leave Blackpool village with a river."

Mr Moody, who lives near the river, said the other alternatives were discounted for various reasons but that they could be adjusted and solved.

“The cost to Blackpool is just too great,” he said, adding that it was a “crazy plan” to cover up the river.

A spokesperson for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) said today that it has "agreed to consent to an order for further public consultation".

The spokesperson told the Examiner that the Department has decided that the best course of action "is to afford the opportunity to consider further certain aspects of the scheme and to consult again with the public in terms of its views on the environmental impacts of the scheme".

"This Government remains fully committed to mitigating the devastating impact of flooding on local communities and businesses. 

"Significant additional funding has been allocated for these purposes under the National Development Plan, but it is imperative that our response to flooding is robustly designed and satisfies necessary legal requirements."

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