DCC Notes for August / September 2021

Proposed Flood Defences In Sandymount Discussed

Sandymount Strand Eoin Meegan

Compiled by Dermot Carmody

DCC Senior Engineer Gerry O’Connell gave a presentation to the SEAC meeting of September 13th on the Sandymount Coastal Flood Defence Scheme.
The scheme is in two phases, with Phase 1 relating the wall along the existing promenade from Gilford Avenue to St Alban’s Park. The wall in this stretch will be raised to a height of approximately 3.6 m, using similar stone to the existing wall. A new stone wall 8m in height will be built around the Martello Tower. The existing openings in the wall will be replaced with flood gates in all but one case, where the opening just south of the Martello Tower will be closed off completely. Mr. O’Connell told councillors that the improved flood defences will be 4.2m above mean sea level in total. These are intended to guard against projected 10 year, 100 year and 1000 year flood events. Around 3000 properties would be protected from the most extreme 1000 year flood event following the improvements.

Phase 2 concerns the 800m from the north of the promenade to the southern end of Sean Moore Park. The existing wall there is 3.5 metres above mean sea level and Mr. O’Connell outlined four main options indicated by previous studies for improving defences here.

Option 1 – Building a new wall up to 1.5m above the path level with rock armour protection on the sea side of the wall.
Option 2 – A smaller 1.2m wall with an 8m wide promenade and rock armour on the sea side of the wall.
Option 3 – Same as Option 2 but with a much wider 30m promenade.
Option 4 – Building a new higher flood wall on the sea side of the existing flood wall.

Most of the funding for any option chosen would come from the Office of Public Works (OPW). The cost of option 1 is estimated at €10m, option 2 at €12.3m. Option 3, with the very wide 30m promenade is estimated at €49m, while option 4 would cost around €21m. Mr. O’Connell remarked that all options involve significant environmental constraints and would require a foreshore licence and possible extension of DCC boundaries.

Construction of Phase 1 is expected to begin late this year or early next year. Phase 2 will initially involve appointment of a consultant to examine the four options and any other possible options for this phase. The current timeline anticipates a planning decision following evaluation and non-statutory public consultation by the third quarter of 2024, with construction to start in the first half of 2026 and be completed by the third quarter of 2028.

Cllr James Geoghegan (FG) observed that choosing Option 3 with the wider promenade might be the best option in terms of facilitating the provision of a world class cycleway in Sandymount, but also said the timelines were “troubling” and wondered if they could be shortened. Several councillors, including Cllr Anne Feeney (FG), Cllr Claire O’Connor (FF) and Cllr Dermot Lacey (LAB), said that the provision of a cycleway should be addressed along with the upgrading of flood defences. Cllr Feeney said that not to build the cycleway at the same time and to then have to go back and address it as a separate project would be “careless, reckless and very short-sighted.” Councillors also sought more detail on the environmental issues with the project and asked Mr. O’Connell which of the proposed options he favoured himself. Cllr Claire Byrne (GP) asked if the proposed defences would offer protection to the Poolbeg West development, while Cllr Kevin Donoghue (LAB) asked if, in the context of expected increase in 200-year flood events, more walls would be needed further down the line.
Responding to councillors’ comments and questions, Mr. O’Connell said the preferred option would come down to available funding and what was possible. He suggested that Option 2, with an 8m promenade, might be best taking into consideration costs and the potential to add to it at a later stage. He thought it unlikely the given timelines could be cut by more than six months due largely to planning requirements involved. Regarding the cycleway he pointed out that one problem with putting it on the promenade side of the wall would be that this would be cut off on certain days of the year when high tides were expected and floodgates in operation. Mr. O’Connell noted that the project was within a protected UNESCO site and there are, for example, around 30 species of bird whose habitat is in the area. Addressing concerns over whether further works would be needed in future he said the project is designed to be effective up to the year 2100.

Proposed DMP Memorial Plaque Causes Controversy
Cllr Mannix Flynn (IND) proposed a motion calling for the commemoration of James O’Brien, a Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) constable who was the first fatality of the 1916 Rising. O’Brien, a Limerick man, was killed by Seán Connolly, a member of the Irish Citizen Army outside the gates of Dublin Castle. Connolly himself died at the hands of a British sniper shortly afterwards. Cllr Pat Dunne (I4C) objected to the idea, saying that the DMP was effectively a groundforce in a conflict. He said he expected memorials to British crown forces in Manchester or London but not in Dublin and accused Cllr Flynn of “headline grabbing” by proposing the motion. Cllr Flynn later asked him to withdraw that remark. Cllr Daniel Céitinn (SF) also opposed the motion, saying there is a need to respectfully commemorate the lives of Irish people, but the individual in question was part of an oppressive colonial force. The councillors agreed to leave the matter with the DCC Commemorations and Naming Committee.

Calls To Address Shortage Of Playing Fields In Southeast Area.
Cllr. Mary Freehill (LAB) proposed a motion addressing the lack of playing facilities for sports clubs in the Southeast Area and called for a proper assessment of all available pitches in the area with a view to making use of under-used pitches. She gave the example of pitches in places such as Cathal Brugha Barracks, the CDEBT and various schools which had pitches which lay unused at times and could be shared with the wider community. Cllr. Tara Deacy (SOCDEM) said a consortium of interested people should decide on a fair use of green space. Cllr Carolyn Moore (GP) said the role of the GAA should be looked at, suggesting that clubs were selling off their own land to developers whilst guarding their right to use park pitches at the same time. Cllr. Freehill bemoaned a lack of representation at the meeting of anyone from the sports or park departments of DCC to answer questions on the issue.