Tuesday 24 October 2017

500 homes at risk as council rejects flood defence scheme

Paul Melia and  Mark O'Regan

MORE than 500 homes will remain at risk of flooding for the foreseeable future after Dublin city councillors last night rejected plans to build a defence scheme.

In a unanimous decision, councillors threw out plans to build the defences along a 3km stretch of the coastline, meaning the northside suburb of Clontarf will remain unprotected from storms and high tides.

The council had secured funding of €4.3m to erect grass mounds between the promenade and road stretching from Alfie Byrne Road to the Woodenbridge. But the height of the mounds caused controversy, with residents claiming they would block views of the sea.

Some 83pc of the defences were to be under 1.5 metres, the council said, reaching a maximum height of 2.17 metres near the old Clontarf baths.

Councillors voted to reject the proposal after a two-month campaign by local residents, in which more than 800 emails were sent to city councillors, another 1,600 or so to the council and numerous public protests.

The council has agreed to meet with locals to devise a new scheme to avert flooding.

However, any project is likely to take at least two years to secure planning and new funding will have to be found.

"We will go back and talk with the residents and the business association and come back here and report in due course," city manager John Tierney said.

"I'm not scaremongering when I say this, but I wouldn't underestimate the difficulty of actually trying to get an agreement on something that achieves a balance between defence and amenity."

In a joint statement last night, Clontarf Residents Association and Clontarf Business Association welcomed the decision and they thanked the city councillors for their support.

"Democracy has won the day and the plan's rejection is a victory for the thousands of people throughout Dublin who stood up and said an emphatic no to the project."

Speaking to the Irish Independent, author Roddy Doyle said: "It's great news, I'm really delighted. The main problem was the lack of a consultation process. There was a feeling that it was being foisted upon us.

"There will have to be more of a consultation process next time -- they couldn't possibly try to do the same thing again."

Councillor Gerry Breen of Fine Gael said the decision to meet with local groups meant a new plan was likely to be agreed.

"Having started badly with poor consultation four years ago when the council wrote to local resident associations but didn't consult with local councillors, hopefully, with full engagement with councillors and the local community, there can be effective flood defence for Clontarf that enjoys support from all," he said.

Irish Independent

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