A community group who lost a Supreme Court bid to have planning permission for certain flood relief works in the city overturned has appealed to Cork City Council to “make compromise” on the planned works.
The Save Cork City Community Association CLG (SCCA) in a leapfrog appeal to the Supreme Court wanted the decision by the High Court last year to refuse to strike down the planning permission for the works around the Morrison’s Island area reversed.
But in a unanimous decision on Wednesday a five-judge Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.
In a statement following the court’s ruling, Save Cork City said it would urge Cork City Council “to consider the impact of the proposed development and to make compromise to include a heritage led response to Morrisons Island that demonstrates gentility to the historic landscape, allowing the South Quays location to reach its full potential”.
“We have argued a tidal barrier is better for Cork economically and socially and we think people agree.
“We also feel sure that people agree that the proposals for Morrisons Island could be far more sensitive to a heritage location,” the statement continued.
The group said it believes there are still unanswered questions on the flood proposals.
“We must review the ruling in detail and we will get advice on the costs which have been considerable in terms of legal fees and the campaign in general,” SCCA also stated.
The Morrison's Island Public Realm and Flood Defence Project, pursued as a separate project to the wider Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme (LLFRS), provides for a renewal of the public space from Parnell Bridge along to Parliament Bridge, including enhanced flood protection measures.
The project is a Cork City Council-led public realm scheme with flood defence elements part funded by the Office of Public Works (OPW).
The scheme, the council says, involves the delivery of “high-quality public realm and landscaping” and will provide flood protection for over 300 properties in a part of the city that suffers from regular tidal flooding.
Following the Supreme Court ruling, city council said it expects that the project will go to tender in the second quarter of 2023 with works expected to commence before the end of the year.
Welcoming the ruling, Cork City Council’s chief executive, Ann Doherty said:
“The area has so much more to offer, and Cork City Council intends to unlock that potential.
“It provides an opportunity for broader revitalisation and regeneration of the whole area.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the OPW said it also welcomed the Supreme Court's decision.
The court's judgment was also welcomed by Independent councillor for the city’s South Central ward and former Lord Mayor of Cork, Mick Finn.
"This is positive for the defence and safety of Cork from flooding which is likely to become a more regular feature of life in the city given climate changes.
“We have been looking to protect the city centre from flood waters since 2009 and while I realise that not everyone believes this is the right way of doing it, I think it's the first step in defending Cork against significant flood events,” Mr Finn told.
“The final modelling and design will see some significant changes and improvements from what was originally proposed and credit to the various groups for achieving these,” he continued.
A spokesperson for the OPW previously toldthat SCCA's appeal was focused "primarily on the jurisdiction of An Bord Pleanála to conduct an EIA screening in an application made under s.177AE of the 2000 Act”.
Mr Justice Seamus Woulfe giving the judgment of the court on Wednesday said he agreed with the High Court that An Bord Pleanála does have jurisdiction to conduct a screening for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in an application under the section of the Planning and Development Act 2000.
He therefore dismissed the appeal.
The other four judges — Mr Justice Peter Charleton, Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan with Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne — all agreed.