Midleton road embankment ‘could have mitigated flooding’

Cork County Council has rejected the idea that a €25,000 mound of earth could have prevented at least some of the flooding seen in Midleton two weeks ago.

A proposal to place the defensive embankment along the Midleton Relief Road near the Willowbank housing estate was contained in a 2013 JBA Consulting report as part of the catchment flood risk assessment and management (CFRAM) report for the area. However, it was not built because the council said it was unclear whether it would increase flooding elsewhere.

The report suggested that the building of the Midleton Relief Road impacted the flood regime in the area and said a “suitably designed floating embankment would provide protection preventing flow” over the left bank of the Owenacurra River.

The report said such an embankment would normally be landscaped into the green or open space of any proposed development and the cost would be a “nominal increase” in the landscape budget. As a standalone embankment, the costs would range from €15,000 to €25,000, depending on the availability of clay.

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The report also says there is a flooding flow route that “has the potential to increase floating further downstream towards Midleton”.

A council spokesperson said the construction of the embankment was deferred to be included in the overall flood scheme.

The embankment in question was not constructed as part of the first phase of the Midleton Northern Relief Road because of the uncertainty relating to its unintended effects, in the context of exacerbated flooding elsewhere in the town.

“Its construction was deferred for inclusion in the overall flood relief scheme.”

However, Cork East Sinn Féin TD Pat Buckley said that ignoring such a suggestion made no sense in the context of the flooding seen by Midleton in 2015 and again in recent weeks.

“I believe it wouldn’t have been as bad because the CFRAM study shows where the water would have gone [with the embankment in place] and showed where the water would have gone without it, and all of that happened. 

TD: ‘Why was report ignored?’

“They told you what could happen and how it would happen. But despite me raising it a number of times, nothing was ever done. 

“That CFRAM report was easy to understand and act on. Why was it ignored? Even just as a precaution.

“If you get a car NCT’d and it fails, you fix what’s on the report. We can accept exceptional circumstances and the volume of rain and everything else, but if you have a warning, you have to act.”

Linear park will go ahead

The council added that a linear park on the flood plain would still be built, knowing that it might flood.

“The linear park proposals have been developed with the knowledge of the high probability of flooding in mind and compatibility with same,” it stated.

“Many parks in Cork which are located adjacent to rivers/sea are prone to flooding during short periods of time but provide enormous benefits most of the time.”

Carrigtwohill firm reopening

Meanwhile, life sciences company Gilead says it hopes to have full operations restored to its Carrigtwohill site within the coming weeks. The site had suffered flooding amid Storm Babet.

“As a result of severe flooding following Storm Babet, Gilead’s manufacturing facility in Cork experienced loss of power and interruption to our business operations,” it stated.

“Thankfully, all our employees were safely evacuated from the site. The site is not closed. Some of our operations are already up and running, and we anticipate that others will be gradually restored over the next few weeks.

“We are diligently working on restoring operations at the facility as swiftly and safely as possible.”

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