Save Cork City group still wants tidal barrier

Save Cork City group still wants tidal barrier
An artist impression of a possible tidal barrier between Monkstown and Rushbrooke.

PROMINENT city centre retailers are calling on the Office of Public Works (OPW) to consider alternative options for flood defences as they fear the scale of the Cork City Flood Relief Scheme may hurt traders.

Eddie Mullins, managing director of Fitzgerald Menswear on Patrick Street, said he believes the OPW has the best interests of businesses at heart but fears works on their scheme may have a detrimental affect on trade.

“We desperately need to restore the river walls, some of them are in a disgraceful condition. That does need to happen but I fear the level of construction that will have to take place in the city centre where we already have gridlock at certain times of the day,” he said.

The OPW and consultants Arup this week published the scheme's exhibition report which addresses over 1,100 submissions from the statutory public consultation process.

The construction of flood defences includes the restoration of 3km of city quay walls and the installation of several pump chambers along the river.

The works are expected to take up to 10 years to complete.

The use of demountable flood barriers in places has raised concerns as to whether flood insurance will be attainable for some businesses but the first phase at Morrison’s Island is set to go for planning permission before the end of the year and will be overseen by Cork City Council.

All the remaining works will be carried out by the OPW.

The Cork Business Association and Cork Chamber welcomed the OPW report in a joint statement, describing the development of an appropriate flood-defence scheme as “critical” for business.

However, the Save Cork City group has campaigned for a tidal barrier to be considered as an alternative option, which they say will protect the whole of Cork and avoid the disruption of raising quay walls.

They commissioned a report by British hydro-engineering company HR Wallingford which costed the tidal barrier at approximately €140m.

This has been dismissed by the OPW whose consultants Arup say the cost of a barrage would be closer to €1bn.

As a long-standing Patrick Street trader, Mr Mullins has taken a keen interest in the debate surrounding the best options for flood defences.

He said: “I’ve read about the tidal barrier solution that Save Cork City has put forward. I believe it has been dismissed by the OPW primarily on the costs. For me, as a non-expert, what worries me is that the OPW is costing the tidal barrier solution in the region of a billion euro, yet there is a report from HR Wallingford, which have experience in managing complicated water-related projects, and they cost a tidal barrier at between €120m to €170m.

“The Docklands are beginning to be developed but yet the OPW project doesn’t cover Tivoli or the Docklands area.

“I think Save Cork City is running a respectable campaign and they are not the big bad wolf and don’t have any real agenda. We’ve waited hundreds of years for a solution. It’s time to take a pause and consider all the options that are being discussed,” he added.

English market butcher Eoin O’Mahony said 10 years of disruption will see shoppers flock to suburban malls.

Another city retailer, who did not want to be named, said they felt the disruption caused by the OPW scheme would put them out of business.

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