CITY Hall will be asked to seek an independent assessment of the economic benefits of a tidal barrier as unease regarding flood defence plans continues.
The Office of Public Works (OPW) will take over a €140m project for a 3km walled defence scheme once Cork City Council completes the agreed Morrison’s Island street upgrade and flood defences scheme which is separate to the OPW section.
The OPW section includes walls up to 1.2m in height and underground pumping stations but concerns have been raised about the disruptions to city traffic while work is carried out and the efficacy of the plan.
City councillors were told earlier this month that no independent review of the OPW scheme would be pursued by Minister of State for the OPW and flood relief Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran.
Lobby group Save Cork City believes an independent report they commissioned by UK hydro-engineering company HR Wallingford on a tidal barrier at Lough Mahon, costing up to €170m, would be a better solution than a walled scheme.
However, the OPW say their consultants, ARUP, have valued a barrier at €1.6bn and said the cost would be prohibitive to pursuing this option.
Councillor Ken O’Flynn will submit a motion to the city council next month seeking an independent assessment of the economic opportunities of the tidal barrier and walled schemes and other options that may exist so the people of Cork are “fully informed”.
“I want to have a serious look at the economic effects it is going to have on the city centre when [the walled scheme] work is going on. We also have to consider the effects on tourism. Everybody has said that we need to secure the city and the city basin but what I don’t think people have looked at is the bigger picture,” Mr O’Flynn told The Echo.
“Once you dry out a basin, we are opening ourselves up to more derelict buildings and older buildings drying out, decaying and possibly falling like we’ve seen in the city centre in the last couple of months.
“I believe we need a full independent review to make a correct decision. It has always been my opinion that the tidal barrier may be a better option for Cork. I am deeply concerned at the height of the quay walls and I have serious reservations about the work to be carried out to do it,” Mr OFlynn added.
The city suffered a devastating flooding event in 2009 which caused €40m in damages.
The OPW believe their scheme will protect 2,100 properties, including 900 homes and 120 businesses and the city will be protected against one in 100-year flood events caused by the River Lee bursting its banks and one in 200-year events caused by tidal flooding.