The Lower Lee (Cork City) Flood Relief Scheme must be delivered urgently to prevent another flooding catastrophe and widescale damage in the city, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Cork North Central Deputy Colm Burke has said city and county officials must press ahead with plans for the scheme to protect homes and businesses against tidal and river flooding, in addition to responding to the challenge of climate change.
Deputy Burke said: “We have all recently witnessed the devastating scenes caused by severe flood events in Germany, Belgium and China, and the consequences of climate change are very real in countries all over the world, including Ireland.
“A major report published today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights a stark reminder about rising global temperatures if we fail to reduce global emissions, which could result in more intense heatwaves and increased flooding.
“According to other international studies, central estimates for global average sea level rise are in the range 20-30 cm by 2050. There is also strong scientific evidence that the rate of increase in sea levels has accelerated since the beginning of this century.
“Sea level rises in specific locations may be greater or less than the global average depending on a wide variety of local factors. Because of global warming, all meteorologists are forecasting a climate punctuated by more extreme weather events including severe droughts and more intense rainfall.
“Given its low-lying coastal location, Cork is particularly prone to flooding; both tidal and river. Cork and other coastal areas are also at risk from Atlantic storm surges which are expected to increase in intensity.
“We all saw what happened in 2009 and 2014, when severe flood events were estimated to have cost a combined €140 million. The fear of flooding is very real for too many people in Cork city. The time to press ahead with a sensible flood relief scheme is now and is something I as a public representative am committed to delivering for the people of Cork.
“The OPW Flood Relief Scheme for Cork is the result of a wide process of local consultation. It has also involved international expertise, particularly from the Netherlands, and world experts in flood defences and water engineering areas.
“It is a comprehensive plan to reduce the risk of flooding and also proposes a wide range of improvements to public spaces including walkways and cycle ways. As laid out by the OPW, the scheme will significantly enhance the public realm, making Cork more attractive for everybody.
“The OPW scheme is feasible from an engineering point of view, is fully costed and is ready to go. Many suggestions made during the public consultation phases are also reflected in plans for the scheme.
“I believe any delay to parts of the works would be detrimental as we need this flood defence project now, in addition to the public realm improvements such as walkways and cycle ways, that it will bring.
“Another major flood event is a real and present danger for people, their homes and businesses in Cork. Extreme weather events in Europe and elsewhere in the world should be a spur to action for all who care about Cork and its future. We must not fail to prepare.”