A controversial project that will provide a key element of plans to prevent flooding of Cork city has been approved by An Bord Pleanála.
The board has sanctioned a €6m project at Morrison’s Island in the city which will see the removal of the existing quay walls and improved flood defences of the River Lee between Parliament Bridge and Parnell Bridge.
The project is a separate element of the larger €140m Lower Lee flood relief scheme being overseen by the Office of Public Works.
It is estimated the proposed works at Morrison’s Island will remove 80 per cent of the threat of flooding in the city centre.
The area around Morrison’s Island is highly prone to flooding and experienced up to a foot of water last November during a period of high tides, which resulted in the closure of several streets.
Over 630 submissions were made to the board with opponents including the Save Cork City organisation calling for an oral hearing.
They accused the planning authorities of "project splitting" as Cork City Council had decided to advance the Morrison's Island element as a standalone scheme because of the significant impact it could have on reducing the risk of flooding in the city.
Save Cork City claimed the threat of flooding could be better addressed by the construction of a tidal barrier downstream which together with upstream catchment management measures would allow the historic quay walls to be preserved and repaired.
However An Bord Pleanàla said it was satisfied based on a screening report carried out by a senior ecologist that it was unlikely the proposed works would have a significant effect on protected habitats including the Cork Harbour Special Protection Area.
It said the project would deliver significant benefits in terms of reducing the risk of tidal flooding in the area and would provide an improved public realm along the banks of the River Lee.
The board imposed a number of planning conditions include the appointment of an ecologist and conversation specialist to oversee the works.