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Cork Flood Defences Dispute – Bath Spa University

Cork flood defences dispute

This project seeks to develop a deeper understanding of conflict and disagreement in flood hazards management.

Project background

Funded with generous support from Bath Spa University.

Flood hazards present challenges for many cities, towns and rural communities and these challenges are likely to increase due to both environmental and socio-economic changes. However, proposed management options often become the subject of disputes over questions such as whether to dredge rivers or whether to construct flood defences.

This project seeks to develop greater understandings of the causes and consequences of these conflicts, and to offer lessons for future decision-making.

Cork City has a long history of both river and coastal floods with notable recent events including a river flood in 2009 which is estimated to have produced economic losses of €90m and a tidal flood in 2014 which produced loses of €40m.

In late 2016, a proposal for a new flood relief scheme for Cork City and the River Lee catchment was published by the Office of Public Works, the lead agency for flood risk management in Ireland. The proposal immediately prompted local opposition, which led to the founding of the Save Cork City campaign to fight against the scheme. Opponents fear the plans will have a detrimental impact on local heritage, ecology, and amenities. Despite this, the scheme appears likely to go ahead and it enjoys the support of local business organisations and some other stakeholders.

These disputes can represent both challenges and opportunities. Intractable conflicts can represent failures in the decision-making process. However, they can also present opportunities to bring new perspectives and wider constituencies into the decision-making process. Examining the causes and consequences of these disputes can shed new light on the ways in which local communities engage with environmental hazards and offer important lessons for future decision-making and policy.

Project milestones and goals

Data collection

Our methods and data collection included the following:

  • Semi-structured interviews with local stakeholders
  • Content analysis of documents
  • Review of news reporting in local and national media
  • Analysis of social media campaigns.

Project team

Dr. James Jeffers - Bath Spa University

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