Work on developing a viable flood relief scheme for Cork city has been underway for about 13 years, beginning with the Lee CFRAMS pilot project, which was followed by the Lower Lee (Cork City) Project which has resulted in the currently proposed scheme for Cork, the Lower Lee (Cork City) Flood Relief Scheme. I am fully satisfied that the scheme as proposed by the Office of Public Works is the best solution for Cork and, in line with international best practice, will protect over 2100 properties (900 homes & 1200 businesses) from the 1 in 100 year river flood and the 1 in 200 year tidal flood event. The Scheme includes low riverside defences, an early flood warning system and new dam management procedures for the ESB dams at Carrigadrohid and Inniscarra. The Scheme will facilitate public realm improvements on a scale not previously seen in Cork city centre, making it more attractive to live in, work in, visit and invest in.
The current estimated whole life cost of the Scheme is circa €140m (2016 figures), although this is likely to be revised upwards when the various design changes introduced after the Public Exhibition feedback, and inflation, are taken into account. The final approved cost of the Scheme will only be known following the works tender process.
The option of a tidal barrier has been examined in detail by the project design team and is deemed not to be currently necessary or viable, and not likely to become viable for 50 years or more. If and when a tidal barrier becomes necessary and viable, the optimum location is likely to be at Great Island, where it would protect the wider urban areas in the harbour and have the least impact on the environment and navigation. The cost of a barrier at this location has an estimated whole life cost of in excess of €1.5bn.
Lower estimates put forward by other groups have been reviewed by the OPW and its consultants who can confirm that they are based on a concept barrier design which is neither technically viable nor likely to be environmentally acceptable and do not include for all whole life costs. In any event, a tidal barrier will not provide improved protection against fluvial flooding in Cork and would not have prevented the extreme flooding which occurred in Cork in 2009.
Further information on the option of a tidal barrier for Cork is available in the ‘Supplementary Report: Option of Tidal Barrier’ which can be downloaded from the project website: