CITY HALL has defended its approach to developing public realm improvements and flood defences at Morrison’s Island.
The local authority has come under criticism for its handling of the project, with some councillors calling for a total rethink on the plans.
Last week, City Hall confirmed that the planning process which had been undertaken regarding the Morrison’s Island scheme earlier this year will now be disregarded and the scheme referred to An Bord Pleanala. This will happen after a new environmental screening assessment takes place.
The change in approach has resulted from a decision by the European Court of Justice (CJEU) relating to a separate case.
Sinn Féin Councillor Chris O’Leary said that the delay in the project has caused confusion.
“There seems to be an opinion that because of this ruling, we will be re-establishing public consultation,” he said.
“There are a number of businesses in the city that are very concerned about the delay in this project. We cannot afford to leave the city defenceless.”
Fine Gael’s John Buttimer sought clarity on the process.
He said: “When will this screening commence? Who will complete it? When will it be completed? How much will it cost? Who funds it?
“What is the role of the OPW in this? How long does the part 10 planning process take and what is the type of judgement? We need clarity on all of this, on who has responsibility for all of it.”
City Hall chief executive Ann Doherty defended the ‘rigorous’ process which has been completed to date.
She said that there is no plan to change the project, it will simply be pursued through a different planning process once the new screening is completed.
“This new AA Screening is not being undertaken due to a flaw or error in either the Part 8 documentation or the processes undertaken which, at the time, followed the established processes of many years,” she said.
“The CJEU decision in effect overturned established practice both in Ireland and across Europe.
“It is also important to note that no changes to the project design or scope are required or are being proposed, other than those which were agreed during the Part 8 process.
“Cork City Council remains fully committed to the delivery of the full Morrison’s Island project.”