A DUTCH flood expert has backed an independent report by British firm HR Wallingford which says a tidal barrier could be built in Cork for between €110 million and €170 million but added it would not act as a catch-all solution for flooding in the city.
Erik Kraaij of the Dutch flood protection programme told a symposium at UCC that he agreed the tidal barrier scheme would be a good approach to tidal flooding but would not be as effective for river flooding.
The Office of Public Works (OPW) and Cork City Council are pressing ahead with plans for raised quay walls at a cost of €140m which is supported by the Cork Business Association.
The first phase of the walled scheme at Morrison's Island is being carried out by Cork City Council with the remaining phases set to get ministerial approval later this year.
The Save Cork City campaign group has been asking for the OPW scheme to be reviewed as they believe the raising of the city's quay walls will not alone stem flooding.
They commissioned a report by HR Wallingford who costed a tidal barrier at Lough Mahon - which they believe will be effective for tidal and fluvial flooding and will save 10 years of disruptive construction work in the city – at up to €170m.
This has been rejected by the OPW whose consultants ARUP carried out a tidal barrier costing at around €1.6bn.
Mr Kraaij, who is the deputy director of the National River and Sea Defence programme in the Netherlands, said every flooding risk is unique and while he agreed the OPW plan will be effective in preventing flooding, he stated the focus needs to be broadened.
He added that similiar plans in the Netherlands had been opposed in the 1970s and authorities decided to opt for a more integrated approach which involved close consultation with citizens.
He said a wide set of factors should be considered in designing flood protection.
He presented Dutch tidal barriers and the River Rhine project which is making more space for the river to sustainably flow through the Netherlands including restoring and creating new floodplains as part of an integrated and multifaceted project of works to protect the Netherlands.