As I was exploring our wonderful city last weekend, I took a few photographs. I admired the Lee and the classic look it brings to the areas around it. During this walk, I also noticed signs informing of a plan that the Office of Public Works (OPW) are planning to surround the River Lee with reinforced concrete in an attempt to prevent flooding in the City. I
The name of the OPW proposal is the ‘Lower Lee (Cork City) Flood Relief Scheme’ and details can be found on their website.
What does this mean for Cork?
- Cultural Heritage: the proposals will destroy huge parts of Cork’s historic character through damage to and removal of the City’s historic quay walls and railings, replacing them with basic concrete walls.
- Economic Effect: the plan will turn the City into a building site for up to 10 years during the construction works, affecting trade and tourism in the City. The loss of and damage to huge amounts of the historic environment will stunt tourism and investment in the longer term.
- Environmental Effect: the extent of the impact on the Lee’s flora and fauna has not truly been accounted for.
- River Disconnection: the scheme will visually and physically disconnect the City’s quays and Fitzgerald’s Park from the Lee due to the introduction of the proposed concrete walls and embankments along the river.
- Flooding Downstream: the Docklands, Blackrock and Mahon are not considered in any depth as part of the proposal, making them more susceptible to flooding in the future.
- Increased Flow: The proposed works will turn the North Channel of the Lee into a culvert, which will increase the risk of flooding on the North Mall, a place which has never flooded before.
- Potential Disaster: River containment is a flawed system that has been abandoned as a flood defence measure in many countries as it is expensive, difficult to achieve and can increase water levels in times of flood, putting cities at even more risk. The scheme relies on rarely used mechanical systems such as water pumps and drain valves, that could fail with catastrophic results.