Subject: Response to “Our lovely Lee should be in full view,not hidden behind wall” by Colette Sheridan

I think it is important to put a balanced,logical and factual counter argument to the piece written in the Evening Echo of the 31/5/17.
Many people who have suffered from flooding in this country are beginning to see flood schemes delivered by the OPW do and have worked.I would ask the question what would have happened to the towns of Mallow,Fermoy and Clonmel with the severe flooding of December 2015 if these flood schemes hadn’t been delivered ?
I don’t subscribe to the view point that OPW wish to erect concrete walls all over our beautiful city and destroy Corks heritage.I believe we need to examine their track record and I would remind objectors that not only are the OPW the lead agency with responsibility for flood protection but they are the agency with responsibility for the protection and maintenance of historical sites such as the Rock of Cashel,Dungarvan Castle and many others of national importance ,ranging from the Phoenix Park in Dublin to the  Dolmen in the Burren.I find it hard to believe that an agency which has statutory responsibility for so much of our national heritage would wish to destroy Cork City’s heritage or ignore our links with the Lee.
We as a society need to help people who are victims of flooding .”Save Cork City” campaigners have a lot of passion for their cause but have shown very little compassion for flooded communities.I have huge reservations with the inaccuracies in their argument and the facts as they present are not true.
Firstly,the proposed flood protection scheme for Cork City will not hide the river Lee behind walls.To say this is not just untrue but is factually incorrect
Merchants Quay,Lapps Quay,Albert Quay,Terrence McSweeney Quay and George’s Quay,all have proposed railings atop of a flood protection wall which is 600mm or 2 feet high.At NO stage will the public not be able to view the river Lee.
I too have often sat outside the Electric Bar on the South Mall and enjoyed a pint or two while gazing into our lovely Lee.This will not change.In fact under the new proposal by the OPW they have cleverly created a bench which will increase seating and improve the public realm in this part of our city.This bench is the so-called flood wall and it protects this part of our city from flooding.There is a break in this bench where a hydraulic flood barrier is buried underground so the public can walk straight out onto the boardwalk.I enclose a picture/photomontage which shows the before and after proposal for this area.Indeed there is 50 montages/pictures available for everybody to  view.I would encourage all members of the public to view them .They show an accurate picture of what the city will be “before and after “.They can be viewed on “A picture paints a thousand words”.
There is one part of Cork city where there will be a wall built and this is the North Mall.We will still be able to look over this wall as its height will be similar to the height of the wall at Grenville Place .It will be 1200mm or 4ft and not the 7ft/10ft wall that is shown on the Facebook page of “Save  Cork City ” campaigners.The montage that they have on their Facebook page is not correct and grossly over states the height of the wall.
We have to be pragmatic and  protect this area from river flooding.Have we forgotten the Mercy Hospital which was flooded in 2009?
The argument that a tidal barrier is a possibility is a pure pipe dream.Cork has the second largest harbour in the world.We have special areas of conservation,shipping and industrial development to consider which I believe would not be compatible with a tidal barrier never mind the cost.OPW argue that a tidal barrier could cost as much as half a billion which is more than the total €440m national budget for flood schemes over the next 5 years.The budget allocated for Cork City is €140m.Where would the money come from for the tidal barrier?Even if it were financially viable it would not prevent incidences of river flooding like the dreadful river floods of 2009.
The proposal to “farm the flood” upstream is also deeply flawed.We would have to compensate hundreds of farmers and even if this were possible to flood their lands this concept was studied internationally and deemed not to work in large catchments.Perhaps the most significant study was undertaken in the U.K. This study was carried out between 2004-2012 by an international Flood risk consortium which was made up of the following university’s :
Imperial College London,Swansea University,University of Nottingham,Newcastle University,Queen Mary University,University of Victoria Wellington,Bangor University and University of Saskatchewan.Their key finding was “at the catchment scale any benefits to flood risk management from local scale mitigation measures are likely to be small”.Therefore this argument doesn’t work.
The argument that the Cork City flood scheme will be similar to the Cork main drainage is not true.

Firstly let us not forget we had a victorian sewage system in our city which wasn’t fit for purpose .”The smell on Patrick’s Bridge is wicked how does Father Mathew stick it?”Now despite the people who wax on lyrically about our beloved Lee and our link with same,we can now swim in it!The Lee annual swim has been reinstated and our link with the Lee reunited.We will not have to dig up our streets again despite the pictures contained on the “Save Cork City” campaigners Facebook page. If there was to be large scale disruption do people really believe that Cork Chamber of Commerce and the Cork Business Association would give their  support to the flood scheme which would once again have our main streets dug up?

The planned objective of the flood scheme for Cork City’s is positive.To stop our city flooding and deliver our city from the constant threat of flooding.The commitment to funding i.e. €140m was not easy to get considering this country is in huge debt with so many pressures on the national purse.Indeed €20m of this budget is to be spent on the reinstatement of our historical quay walls which are in a state of collapse in some parts of our city.There are many other communities across the country rightly lobbying for their flood scheme .We now need to move ahead and embrace this huge and hard won investment in Cork.

We have a beautiful city!Nobody wishes our wants to destroy our heritage.We need to be practical and pragmatic.Cork City cannot reach its full potential with the constant threat of flooding.

I am convinced that sanity will prevail.I would like to thank all of the vast majority of our city councillors for voting for our flood scheme which will protect our homes,businesses and hopefully lead to flood insurance being made available to all.It is important so we can invest in our future and feel secure in the city we love.



Jer Buckley

PRO Irish National Flood Forum

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