Both ESB and UCC failed to address flooding risk
From the very outset, the ESB has insisted that it acted responsibly in how it managed the release of water from dams during the deluge which devastated Cork, and in particular UCC, in November 2009. Now, the High Court has found otherwise.
But this has only come following a protracted legal battle costing millions of euro, and which portrays neither UCC nor the utility company in a positive light.
It should never have come to this. Back in 2001, eight years before the flooding occurred, the ESB was warned that strategic reservoirs were unable to cope with extreme rainfall events, while in 2008 a study warned that water volumes from rivers flowing into Cork were not taken into account when engineers were deciding how much water should be released from the dams.
The court's decision means that the ESB is now open to compensation claims from hundreds of affected households.
The High Court also ruled that UCC was warned at least 50 times that it was building on a flood plain. Had both parties heeded the repeated warnings, this sorry episode could have been avoided.