Delay for flood scheme?
Save Our Bride Otters (SOBO) has been granted leave to seek a judicial review of the decision to grant permission to the OPW to proceed with the Blackpool Flood Relief Scheme.
The decision was made at a High Court hearing yesterday and the next court date has been set as 12 October for the exchange of documents.
Speaking after yesterday’s hearing, SOBO spokesman Chris Moody said: “We can solve Blackpool’s flooding issues by exploring far less destructive options.”
A hearing to determine the need for a judicial review on the controversial Blackpool Flood Relief Scheme took place yesterday.
The hearing was requested by lawyers acting on behalf of Save Our Bride Otters (SOBO) after a decision to allow the Office of Public Works (OPW) to proceed with the scheme was made in the High Court earlier this month. On Tuesday, the Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW Patrick O’Donovan visited Blackpool where he met with OPW engineers and members of the local community.
Minister O’Donovan said he is “really worried” about the city of Cork and that the risk of flooding poses a considerable threat to the city’s prosperity. “This is a city that is ripe for investment but it has one huge problem hanging over it, which is that it is at a major risk of flooding.
“My responsibility is to be upfront with the people of Cork regarding the risk of flooding in the city and I am not going to skirt around this,” he said.
The proposed €20 million scheme plans to culvert approximately 350 metres of the Bride River with an aim to provide flood protection to hundreds of properties in the area, many of which have suffered badly from flooding in the past.
The Blackpool Flood Relief Scheme Project started in 2013, one year after serious flooding occurred in the village affecting around 200 properties.
The scheme itself was proposed in 2018 and was judged to best meet the full range of criteria and objectives for Blackpool and to protect areas of Blackpool that were at risk of flooding.
Various alternative solutions were explored, including the use of walls rather than a box culvert for the existing channel along Orchard Court.
However, this was opposed by the Blackpool Flood Action Committee, many local residents and some public representatives on several grounds. It is expected that if the hearing does grant a judicial review, the scheme will be delayed for up to a year or more. SOBO has opposed the scheme since its inception on a number of grounds including the destruction of existing habitats for a variety of species, including otters.
Prior to yesterday’s hearing, SOBO and its lawyers said they expected it to be a formality and were confident that a judicial review would be granted based on substantial legal grounds.
A spokesman for SOBO, Chris Moody, said the approach taken by the Office of Public Works (OPW) towards the Blackpool Flood Relief Scheme has been flawed from the start. “We have no choice but to challenge this decision by way of judicial review.
“This scheme is unnecessarily expensive, extremely destructive, and attempts to steamroll over a number of protections enshrined in both EU and national law,” he said. Mr Moody added that SOBO will continue to fundraise for the coming months until the case gets to full hearing.
The hearing was still ongoing as of going to print on Wednesday.