'No sense of urgency': Clontarf flood defences delayed until at least 2027

Delays in protections ‘deeply concerning’, says Green councillor

Flood defence barriers along the Clontarf seafront as a high tide posed a risk of flooding in 2012. Photograph: Alan Betson

Flood defence barriers along the Clontarf seafront as a high tide posed a risk of flooding in 2012. Photograph: Alan Betson


Large yellow sandbags are set to remain along the Clontarf coast in Dublin for at least another six years before flood defences are constructed, it has emerged.

Dublin City Council 18 months ago produced plans for new flood-defence works along the northside suburb’s coast which has been identified as one of the places most at risk of flooding in the State. However, the council has said it is unlikely these permanent protections will be in place before 2027.

The council secured planning permission from An Bord Pleanála in 2008 to build flood defences up to 2.75m (9ft) tall involving earthen embankments and walls at a cost of €4 million.

Following objections from local residents, the council offered to reduce the height of the protective embankment to 2.17m (7ft), the lowest height permitted by the planning body.

Despite having been hit by an “extreme tidal event” in February 2002 and a less severe one in October 2004, both of which caused damage to homes and businesses, residents opposed this reduced barrier. Large yellow sandbags have been left in place along the Clontarf Road since.

In late 2018, the council proposed new €10 million defence barriers up to 1.6m tall, involving a dual-wall solution, with the main barrier at the sea and a secondary defence wall located along the footpath at Clontarf Road, which it intended to submit to An Bord Pleanála. However, concerns remained in relation to the heights, with residents worried in particular about the safety of women walking along the sea promenade who would not be visible from the road due to the secondary wall.

In March of last year the council produced another dual-wall solution, which would be partially demountable. The demountable sections would be used in areas where higher defences, above 1.2m, are needed and would be erected at times when the area is at risk of flooding. An estimated 400 homes and businesses are at “significant risk of flooding” the council said.

The council said it hoped to have a definite timeline for the work by the end of this year, but it estimated that following the contracting of consultants and further public consultation, it could be in a position to submit an application to An Bord Pleanála by the middle of 2023. If the board granted permission at the start of 2024 and a contractor was appointed by the end of that year, the defences might be completed by 2027 it said.

Green Party councillor Donna Cooney said she was “deeply concerned” by the estimated timeline.

“When the council first applied for flood protections we were talking about a one in a 100-year flooding event, then it became one in 40 years, now these floods are happening a few times a year, yet there seems to be no sense of urgency here.”

She said she could not understand why the council was seeking external consultants when the flood defence designs had already been put together by its own in-house team.

“They really should get those design concepts out to public consultation now, not wait until 2023, and speed the whole process up.”