THE Office of Public Works (OPW) has dismissed calls for a tidal barrier in Cork Harbour, saying that it is not cost-effective and would not address the flood risks in the city centre.
Fianna Fáil leader and Cork South Central TD Micheál Martin was the latest figure to throw his weight behind proposals for a flood barrier, which has been pushed as an alternative flood protection measure by the Save Cork City campaign group.
The OPW plans to raise quay walls around the city as the part of its overall flood protection plan, but campaigners have warned that this option it will destroy Cork's historic relationship with the river.
A spokesperson for the office said that, while it is technically feasible to build a tidal barrier, it would cost too much and not deliver enough, so would not be included in the Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme.
"A tidal barrier has not been included as part of the proposed scheme as the cost is estimated to be over €500 million, which is far in excess of the benefits arising from the proposed scheme and also far in excess of the figures for a barrage put forward by the Save Cork City group.
"So while it is technically feasible it cannot be considered further due to the fact that it is not cost beneficial. Even if it was cost beneficial, there would be considerable environmental hurdles to overcome. Even if such hurdles could be overcome and it was constructed it would not deal with the fluvial flood risk which exists in the City which would still require defences to be built," said the spokesperson.
In response to comments from Mr Martin that the current scheme would not protect the docklands area and would prevent development there, the OPW said that the area was outside the scope of the scheme and defences would be addressed through development and planning control.
The spokesperson also distanced the OPW from a public design competition for the aesthetic features of the city centre flood relief scheme.
"It is understood that a group from the Southern Branch of the RIAI and the Save Cork City group have independently commenced a design competition for the Morrison's Island area, but that they have no part or function with regard to the design or advancement of the project. It is also not known if the competition takes cognisance of the flood risk in the area," they said.