CITY leaders have been urged to act soon on the implementation of its flood relief system before flooding incidents become unmanageable.
Dr Mary O’Connor, who has worked with Coilte and Life Projects and has extensive knowledge of river flooding, warned that there needs to be a “sense of urgency” on the scheme.
There are contrasting views in Cork on the type of flood scheme required. The City Council and the OPW are planning to build higher walls and demountable structure to protect the city but a vocal campaign group, Save Cork City, want a tidal barrier in the harbour.
“Something certainly needs to happen soon as we are facing into another winter which will bring more unpredictable weather and the possibility of further flooding,” said Dr O’Connor, speaking to the Evening Echo.
“It’s important to come to an agreement on this but it’s also very important to involve local people at all stages.
“Cork is slightly constrained in terms of its options as it is a very developed area which leaves little scope for natural flood relief such as the Lee Fields."
“Where we can, we should be looking at implementing natural solutions but for Cork, engineering solutions will be the only way forward for some areas.
“It’s important to get the public consultation on these solutions to ensure there is access, unhindered views and aesthetic solutions.”
However, Dr O’Connor warned that any solution now may only be temporary.
“With climate change, these defences have become a more pressing issue and that will continue to influence it as more severe weather events are predicted,” she said.
“Any solution now may not be the final one but may be subject to further change due to climate change.
“There is no quick fix or easy solution,” she added.
The annual Environ conference is being hosted in collaboration with the Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland (ESAI) with this years theme: “Arriving at a Sustainable Future.”
Dr Mary O’Connor spoke at the event alongside Ezra MacManamon of the Office of Public Works (OPW), Ken Leahy of Arup Consulting Engineers and Claire Nash, owner of Nash 19 Restaurant located on Princes Street in Cork City Centre, whose business has experienced firsthand the impact of flooding in the City.
“Events like these are very important for allowing the environmental science community to come together and discuss various issues, ideas and innovations in the field,” said Dr Joe Harrington, conference organiser.
“It highlights very important research that is being carried out in the area as well and gives the public and any interested parties the opportunity to attend and learn about environmental issues.
“The event covers a wide range of subjects such as renewable energy, flooding, air and water quality and many more, aspects which have an affect on us here in Cork as well as nationally and internationally,” he added.