Opposition by residents leads council to shelve Clontarf flood defence plans


PLANS FOR flood defences of up to 2.17m (7ft) in height to protect Clontarf from the sea have been scrapped by Dublin city councillors following opposition from local residents.

Councillors of all parties voted last night to reject the council management proposals for building a barrier along the promenade in Clontarf to protect homes and businesses from inundation by the sea.

The area was 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.

The council has had planning permission from An Bord Pleanála to build flood defences up to 2.75m high since 2008. However, when it announced two months ago that it planned to begin construction early next year a campaign against the move began.

Residents and business associations, who did not appeal to An Bord Pleanála before the scheme was approved in July 2008, said there had been inadequate public consultation at the time. They added they were unaware of the proposed heights of the development until last October.

The council reviewed the plans and offered to reduce the height of the protective embankment to a maximum of 2.17m. A series of public consultation meetings were held last month to outline the altered scheme to residents and businesses.

In a report presented to councillors last night assistant city manager Séamus Lyons noted that more than 2,000 submissions had been received and public opinion in Clontarf was “virtually wholly opposed” to the project going ahead, even in its modified form.

The report highlighted a number of comments arising from the public consultation process including that the proposed flood barrier was a “cheap and nasty solution”, was “crude, lazy and tantamount to vandalism”, an “eyesore” and a “giant solution to a Lilliputian problem”.

However, Mr Lyons said it remained his recommendation the project go ahead. The Office of Public Works (OPW) and consultants contracted by the council to review the project had agreed the modified proposals would provide effective flood defences for the at-risk area in Clontarf. He said there were no alternative options which could protect Clontarf and be acceptable to the public.

“For these reasons and given the overriding requirement to protect the area, I am of the view that the amended proposal is the only feasible option that can be achieved in the short to medium term.”

The council’s executive manager Tom Leahy had previously warned that rejection of the modified proposals would result in a loss of funding from the OPW and a delay of up to eight years in providing flood protection for the area.

But councillors last night said the views of the public had been made clear and must be respected. They voted unanimously against the proposal.

City manager John Tierney said officials would now return to the residents and business groups to discuss the implications of the councillors’ decision and would report back to the councillors next February.

Fine Gael councillor Gerry Breen, who represents the Clontarf area, said the outcome was a positive one for the community.

Deirdre Tobin and Gus O’Hara, joint chairpersons of the Clontarf Residents’ Association and Clontarf Business Association, were delighted with the result, saying common sense had prevailed.