Defence 'masterplan' for flood-hit city to cost €50m
A THAMES-style flood barrier to eliminate all future flooding in Cork would have cost close to €1bn.
The revelation came as the Office of Public Works (OPW) insisted its proposed €50m flood defence plan for Cork harbour will provide adequate protection. However, construction on the project won't begin until 2016 and it won't be fully in place until 2018.
The OPW also pointed out that the timeframe may be extended if there are major objections or changes demanded to the scheme.
The €50m scheme – which costs less than half the estimated damage caused to Cork by the disastrous 2009 River Lee flooding – is a multi-faceted approach to the problems faced by Ireland's lowest lying city.
Cork has suffered four major floods over the past five years – with the 2009 flood causing €100m in damage, forcing the partial evacuation of a city centre hospital and the shutdown of the city's main water treatment plant.
The OPW flood protection plan involves:
* Improved city centre quay walls.
* Enhanced water release management from upstream Lee dams and reservoirs.
* Use of flood plains west of the city.
* A hi-tech flood prediction system.
* Strategic flood defence systems in vulnerable areas including Blackpool and Ballyvolane.
* Enhanced drains with flood locks.
Cork City Council and Cork County Council will be fully involved in the new flood defence masterplan.
However, Cork business groups expressed "deep concern" that the city will have to face four more years of flood threats before modern defences are in place.
Cork Business Association (CBA) official Claire Nash, whose restaurant Nash 19 was hit by flooding last February, said it was vital that flood defences be put in place as quickly as possible.
The OPW insisted that their plan will protect the city and its vulnerable suburbs.
"We have a scheme which we are proposing and that scheme for flood relief purposes is made up of a package of measures," OPW official Ezra McMenamin explained.
"This scheme will provide protection for Cork city against floods from the river with a return period of about 100 years on average."
"It will also help with floods from the tide with a return period of about 200 years on average."
"That is the best international standard and practice in terms of providing flood relief defence for a major urban area."
Former OPW minister Brian Hayes admitted that Ireland urgently had to "ramp up" its flood defence spending given the increasing threat facing vulnerable Irish cities, towns and coastal communities.