Wednesday 9 November 2011

Warning of delay in flood defences

CONSTRUCTION OF vital flood defences to protect Clontarf from the sea could be delayed by up to eight years, Dublin City Council has warned.

The council has had planning permission from An Bord Pleanála to build flood defences up to 2.75m high since 2008.

It has now agreed to reduce the height of the protective embankment to a maximum of 2.17m.

The cost of the project, including the construction of a new watermain is estimated at €9.8 million, which would be jointly funded by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and the Department of Environment. A contractor has been appointed and is ready to start work.

The council said it has been warned by the OPW that funding may be withdrawn if the project is not confirmed by the end of this year.

The reduction in height followed objections from residents and business people in Clontarf who said the defences, which would run along a 3km stretch of the promenade, would ruin the local amenity and the views of Dublin Bay.

The combined residents and business associations were last Friday presented with the proposals for the reductions in height which would see the grass covered mound vary in height from a minimum of .45m to 2.17m along the bay. In the previously approved scheme the minimum height was .85m while the maximum was 2.75m.

Residents and businesses said the reductions were inadequate and that they would continue to fight against the project.

The embankment would create a “muggers and rapist’s paradise” and would be an act of “national sabotage” local independent councillor Niall Ring told a city council meeting last night.

Executive manager with the council Tom Leahy said it was not possible to make the defences any lower and still provide protection to properties in Clontarf. “There is no point in investing in defences which do not protect people.” If they council did go ahead with the revised scheme now and had to restart the design and planning process, flood defences for Clontarf which was at “daily risk of flooding” could be delayed for up to eight years Mr Leahy said.

“It could require six to eight years to get back to where we are now, even if there is a willingness on the part of the two funding agencies to fund a complete abandonment of the current project and a total redesign.” Construction of the defences, which would take two years is due to start in the new year. If it did not progress at this stage Mr Leahy said, the OPW had indicated that funding was likely to be withdrawn.

“Dublin City Council has been informed that funding is available in 2011 from OPW and that this funding may not be available subsequently due to review of all Government Capital funding.” Councillors last night agreed to reconsider the issue next month following public consultation on the new heights.

Separately Mr Leahy last night told councillors that the rainfall which resulted in extreme flooding in Dublin two weeks ago “considerably exceeded” Met Éireann forecasts.

Some 95mm of rain fell over a 24 hour period on October 24th. Met Éireann had issued severe weather alerts, updated during the day, which predicted rainfall of 40mm to 70mm over two days, he said.

Referring to reports that the fire brigade had to be called to operate a flood gate on the river Dodder near Lansdowne Road because the key could not be found to open it Mr Leahy said the lock had malfunctioned but that it was a tidal gate which operates automatically if there is tidal, rather than rain, flooding.

Irish Times

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