OPW rejects alternative Cork flood plans

The OPW has again insisted its €140m flood defence proposal for Cork City is the only viable solution to protect the city despite calls for a more balanced approach.

Flooding in Cork city in 2014.

It said proposals which emerged from an international design competition for the Morrison’s Island area — one of the city centre’s flood-prone zones — will not provide protection from the type of flooding experienced in the area.

Save Cork City, which is leading opposition to the OPW’s proposals, said it will continue its campaign and will encourage politicians to call for alternative plans.

The OPW was reacting to a symposium in UCC at the weekend and the launch of an exhibition showcasing the top entries from last year’s Morrison’s Island International Design Competition, backed by Save Cork City.

Dutch flood expert Erik Kraaij told the symposium that flood defence schemes which seek to provide flood protection by simply building barriers could have a broader focus.

Mr Kraaij, deputy director of the Dutch flood protection programme, an agency which spends €1bn a year on flood defence, said he had no doubt the OPW’s scheme for Cork, which includes raising the height of quay walls in parts of the city centre, would prevent flooding.

He said he has seen flood defence schemes in Germany adopt a more integrated approach, which also addressed issues such as access to the river.

He said a more balanced approach, which considers a wider set of factors, works well and provides for better outcomes.

The OPW insisted its scheme, the largest in the history of the State and designed to provide flood protection to 2,100 properties extending from Inniscarra Dam to the city centre, has been designed to “best international standards and has been the subject of extensive public consultation”.

“Cultural heritage has been at the forefront of the design of the scheme which will make the city more attractive for local communities and tourists alike,” said a spokesman.

“The enhancement of the public realm, the repair of the historic quay walls, and the provision of additional river walkways will enhance connectivity to the river. The scheme as proposed is the only viable solution to the flooding problem in Cork.

“The Morrison’s Island international Design Competition run by Save Cork City identifying public realm proposals for Morrison’s Island will not provide protection from the flooding experienced by the community in Cork City.”

Save Cork City’s John Hegarty said Cork should make its own plans for flood protection and the public realm that are specific to the city and that those plans should be considerate of a full analysis of economic and cultural impact and the wellbeing of citizens.

The entries in the Morrison’s Island International Design Competition are on display in the new Crawford Building on Grand Parade weekdays from 10am to 5pm until February 25.

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