As part of the development of the Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme and the statutory public consultation process on the scheme, a comprehensive report on the potential for a tidal barrier for Cork was carried out by engineering consultants Arups on behalf of the Office of Public Works (OPW) which included a cost estimate of the alternative proposal for a tidal barrier put forward by a group, savecorkcity, who are opposed to the proposed OPW scheme. It has come to the OPW's attention in very recent days that the savecorkcity group subsequently commissioned the Delft University in the Netherlands to carry out an assessment of the costs of this alternative proposal as they were set out in the OPW report. Although the Delft report appears to have been completed on the 10th April it was only last week that certain extracts from the report surfaced in the media which made the OPW aware of its existence. The savecorkcity group did not inform the OPW of the report or provide the OPW with a copy of the report or its terms of reference. A copy of the report was requested by the OPW from the savecorkcity group last week and was subsequently provided.
The OPW has had the savecorkcity/Delft report reviewed and can confirm that, when read in full, the report actually validates the order of magnitude costings contained in the OPW’s own tidal barrier report and does not identify any issues which would materially alter the costs estimates in the OPW’s report. The savecorkcity/Delft report comes up with a construction-only cost of €258m compared with the OPW’s cost of €289m. The difference can be attributed to the fact that the savecorkcity/Delft report does not include sufficient allowances for many items including significant embankment elements, any measures to prevent bypass of the barrier, the costs of protection against fluvial flooding and operational and maintenance costs. If these corrections were made in the savecorkcity/Delft report then the whole life cost of the savecorkcity barrier proposal would be very similar to the estimate of €0.5billion contained in the OPW report, and would therefore not be cost beneficial.
It must also be noted that, aside from matters of costs, the location, type and size of the barrier proposed in the savecorkcity proposal is considered likely to be neither technically nor environmentally viable.