Group takes legal challenge over Cork flood defence walls

Proceedings initiated by architects, business owners, artists and archaeologists

The applicants contend there was a “splitting off” of some 553m of the Morrison’s Island works from the overall €160m  flood defences scheme for Cork.

The applicants contend there was a “splitting off” of some 553m of the Morrison’s Island works from the overall €160m flood defences scheme for Cork.

 

A group including architects, business owners, artists and archaeologists has taken a legal challenge over plans for 553 metres of flood defence walls in Cork city.

The proceedings were initiated by the Save Cork City group and one of its leading members, architect Seán Antóin Ó Muirí.

At the High Court on Monday, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan granted an ex parte application to Jerry Healy SC, instructed by solicitors FP Logue, for the applicants, for leave for judicial review aimed at quashing Cork City Council’s decision in May to approve the works at Morrison’s Island.

The applicants contend there was a “splitting off” of some 553m of the Morrison’s Island works from the overall €160m Office of Public Works (OPW) flood defences scheme for Cork, the Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme.

The splitting has consequences for the obligations to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Appropriate Assessment of the proposed works at Morrison’s Island, the court was told.

The applicants claim, despite Morrison’s Island having formed part of the scheme at all times between 2013 and 2016, the council resolved to proceed on a different basis to the OPW, with a proposal which embraced the Morrison’s Island element of the work and to progress that aspect of the project via flood relief and other public amenity works.

The applicants claim this proposal, under Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations, was approved by the council via a resolution of May 14th 2018. They contend that approval was apparently without any consideration of the environmental impacts of the proposed development and without making the relevant determination in respect of EIA and appropriate assessment.

A screening for appropriate assessment report of December 2016 carried out on behalf of the OPW concerned the entire scheme so that report’s subject matter was therefore “fundamentally different” in scale and substance from the proposed flood defences at Morrison’s Island, it is claimed.

Mr Healy argued there were “fatal” flaws in the screening process and there were breaches of both the EIA and Habitats Directive. There was no basis upon which the Council could have concluded no significant effects were likely from the proposed development, it is claimed.

It is also claimed that because the Council is both the competent authority and proposed developer of the works, there is a conflict of interest.