A CAMPAIGN group has said nothing has fundamentally changed in Office of Public Works (OPW) plans for flood defence measures in the city.
The OPW this week published new images of the city’s proposed flood defences that it said are aimed at addressing “genuine misunderstanding” of the €140m scheme. The Government body met councillors on Monday to address fears around the Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme.
The project has been the subject of intense public debate with the Save Cork City lobby group campaigning for a tidal barrier at Lough Mahon, rather than raising quay walls in the city. Other issues dogging the project have been the erosion of the city’s historic stone quays and criticism over the public’s access to the river with raised embankments a key part of the scheme.
However, the OPW issued a press release this week claiming there was “genuine misunderstanding” about the scheme and said it was moving to “challenge significant misrepresentation” of the project.
OPW commissioner John Sydenham and City Hall chief executive Ann Doherty have stated the narrative that the scheme will destroy the city’s quay walls “is simply not true” and the scheme will include “no high walls” with the majority of quayside parapets only knee-height.
However, Save Cork City has said the language used by the OPW to describe “genuine” criticism of the scheme is “unfortunate and aggressive”.
A spokesperson for Save Cork City told The Echo that they will continue to oppose the scheme.
“Why is the OPW still spending on a propaganda train designed to undermine the serious and valid concerns of citizens and designed to hide the reality of what is being proposed?
“Anyone who has visited Copenhagen or Amsterdam can see what a riverside landscape and maritime history can do for a city wishing to expand socially and economically.
“The damage OPW would do to Cork would be felt for generations and it will continue to be opposed by a movement that is now much bigger than Save Cork City. Cork needs a more competent approach to flood defence.
“The scheme relies on pumps and containment in its essence and this approach has been rejected internationally. No part of this proposal has fundamentally changed except to introduce more concrete and tarmac and de-mountable flood defences in a complete misinterpretation of what Cork is as a city or could be when compared to historic cities around Europe that make the best of their assets for economic and social gain.
“International experts have studied the OPW proposal and have concluded that it won’t work due to issues of rising groundwater in the city. It is no doubt the most dangerous approach for Cork that could be taken with the least economic benefit,” they said.
The Save Cork City group has also claimed that a tidal barrier is the best solution to support planned regeneration and expansion of the city into brownfield sites on the docklands.
“Experts have concluded that a tidal barrier is an economical approach to protecting Cork and provides great advantages for the city in terms of safety of the population and protection of the city centre and docklands.
“No other form of protection can support the development of the dockland area more efficiently and economically than the tidal barrier and the economic opportunities for tourism in the historic city and economic development would be supported for generations by the better flood-defence approach for Cork than the walls scheme,” the spokesperson said.