'Unnecessarily expensive and too damaging': Campaigners to seek judicial review of Blackpool flood relief scheme

'Unnecessarily expensive and too damaging': Campaigners to seek judicial review of Blackpool flood relief scheme

The Bride River at Orchard Court, Blackpool, Cork is to be covered in concrete in proposed flood protection measures. Picture: Larry Cummins

A Blackpool-based campaign group is to seek a judicial review of the recent decision by the Minister for Public Expenditure to approve the Blackpool Flood Relief Scheme.

Earlier this month, Michael McGrath gave formal consent for the €20m flood defence scheme to be referred to the Office of Public Works for appraisal.

The proposed scheme will include flow-improvement measures and direct flood defences for the River Bride, and roughly a 350m stretch of the river is to be placed into a culvert.

The newly-formed Save Our Bride Otters group intends to seek a judicial review in the High Court on the decision.

The group said the culvert would be “effectively burying the last open stretch of the river in Blackpool village underground”. 

The group has said of the proposed scheme that it is “unnecessarily expensive, that the culverting aspect is likely to be the cause of more flooding long-term, rather than relieving potential flooding, and that the proposed works are too damaging to the habitat of the community of European otters”.

The campaigners believe the Bride is an ideal location for nature-based solutions which would slow the flow of waters upstream.

The group say that these could be more effective and cheaper than concrete-based proposals.

Save Our Bride Otters spokesperson Chris Moody, who lives adjacent to the River Bride in Blackpool, said that the river is one of the key strongholds for European otters which is a protected species.

“There are also many other species using this unique stretch of urban river, such as trout, dipper, heron and mallard.

“It is a healthy little ecosystem and a neglected jewel in Blackpool." 

He said that the group fears the impact the scheme would have on wildlife.

“We don’t want to be in the position where we have to do this sort of thing, but we really feel this is the wrong decision,” he said.

“It is extremely destructive. Despite the proposed mitigation measures, the impact on wildlife is going to be very severe and we can’t let that go ahead.

“We have to try, at least to oppose it.”

Save Our Bride Otters will be hosting an inaugural public meeting online tomorrow.

The group has also launched a gofundme campaign and the Zoom link for the meeting can be found on the campaign page.

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