Official Statement on behalf of joint CRA/CBA committee following meeting with DCC
Clontarf Residents and Business Associations stress that they reserve the right to accept or reject Dublin City Council’s revised plans for the Flood Defence and Water Mains scheme along the promenade.
Engaging with the council over proposed alterations to their original plans does not mean the Residents and Business Associations accept they are the only viable solution.
At yesterday’s (Friday) meeting between both sides, the council presented proposed amendments to the scheme, but reiterated they were not prepared to go back to the drawing board.
The joint committee of the Residents and Business group attending the meeting at no time accepted that the City Council’s amended plans were the only solution.
The Council is to meet with the joint committee of both associations in two week’s time where they will make a formal presentation on their proposed changes to the scheme.
While certain public representatives said they accept the City Council’s revised plans as a way forward, this is NOT the case of the Residents’ and Business Associations.
The Residents and Business Association joint committee will continue to explore other schemes through its architect and planning sub-committee. A legal sub-committee is also examining its legal options.
For those of you looking for more detailed information we are also sharing with you further details about yesterday’s meeting.
- Yesterday’s meeting was set up as an information meeting and it was not seen by either side as a meeting where an agreement would be negotiated.
- We have written today to DCC to confirm our understanding of what transpired at the meeting (see text of letter below)
- DCC officials made a lengthy presentation (107 slides) to a representative group made of committee members from the CRA and the CBA.
- For the first time throughout this process, we were presented with photo montages outlining the effect of the proposed changes on the landscape of the promenade.
- These photos, along with the photo montages prepared by our own EPE team, confirmed our worst fears about the scale of the project.
- DCC suggested that there may be scope for a reduction in heights but that this would be subject to discussions with the engineering consultants regarding the design, An Bord Pleanala regarding Planning & the Office of Public Works (OPW) regarding ongoing finance.
- In conjunction with this they showed further images that showed the effect of reducing heights by 0.5M. This would leave the height range at between 0.3M and 2.25m. (The current height range in the proposal is 0.8M to 2.75M)
- We immediately asked why this particular height reduction was chosen and asked was this the maximum height reduction under consideration by DCC.
- DCC responded to the effect that they were open to much more significant height reductions up to and including reverting to the original heights which were consulted upon in advance of the actual planning phase. These heights ranged from 0.6m to a maximum of 1.2M
- DCC also agreed to review the plans on a section-by-section basis to assess height requirements versus perceived risk on a more localised basis as opposed to across the entire 3km stretch, i.e. heights being lowered more in areas where perceived risk is lower. The presentation outlines key areas at risk along the 3km stretch.
- Most of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos that are included in the DCC presentation are taken in areas where vegetation exists. In the ‘after’ photo, the vegetation has been removed. This effectively artificially enhances the ‘after’ photo. We just wanted to draw your attention to this. Also on this, we are not sure at what height level the photo is taken, we will clarify that with DCC in our letter to them today.
- You will also note that no visuals are presented that indicate the effect of the width of the proposed berm. Many of you have expressed concern that in some parts of the promenade there is likely to be little or no flat grassed area remaining. We have asked today for these images to be supplied to us.
- Photos of the 2002 flood are scattered liberally throughout the presentation. While the images are stark it is our contention that this flood and others too were seriously exacerbated by surface water which could not get away due to poor drainage.
- Also scattered liberally throughout the presentation are statements to the effect that the council’s main concern is to protect people from flooding. Our contention is that the coupling of the watermain into the flood defence plan had the natural effect of diluting the focus on what was the best flood defence solution for Clontarf. After all, of the 5 possible options outlined in the plan (slide 14) only option 5, the one chosen, is able to accommodate the watermain.
- The comparative analysis (slide 16) is light on detail. We have today asked the council to provide more information on how these scores were arrived at. You will note for example that the option chosen scores second best in relation to ‘Aesthetics from promenade and road’. This alone is highly debatable. Other scores are also open to scrutiny. You will also note that there is no ‘weighting’ to the various elements with each item considered equally important. For example a short term (temporary) issue such as ‘Impact of construction on amenity’ is given the same weighting as the long term (permanent!) ‘‘Aesthetics from promenade and road’.
- You will note that on slide 19 the flood level in 2002 was 3.0m above OD. Yet, the proposed flood defences are between 4.2m and 5.2m above OD. (For simplicity, ‘OD’ usually refers closely to Mean Sea Level and is not to be confused with the ground level measurements that we have normally been referring to.)
Report from our EPE team
Our own report is available to view on a digital reader here. Key elements in the report include:
- Visual Impact effects of flood defences from sea and land sides
- Appropriate Assessment of proposed scheme in relation to Special Protection Area
- Construction Technologies of Water Pipeline and Flood Defences
- Building Control compliance with regard to emergency services access and universal access
- Alternative Schemes proposed in EIS and criteria of selection process
There are a number of points where we seek clarification on technical matters from DCC.
- DCC has undertaken to revert to us within the next 2-3 weeks after they have consulted with their design team and the OPW.
- We also have an undertaking that no contract will be signed for the construction work until after this meeting and in addition to this we have an undertaking from the City Manager that he will give a 10 day notice period before signing the relevant contract.
- Further, we have a commitment that the finance allocated for the project will be ring-fenced by the OPW in the event that negotiations on any revised plan that puts us outside the time parameters of the existing financing arrangement.
- You have been receiving and will continue to receive communications from your public representatives in relation to this matter. Our experience to date is that some of these have been misleading. We believe that our public representatives have an important role to play in resolving this matter but they do not speak on behalf of the CRA or the CBA. We will provide a ‘full and frank’ account of our communications with our public representatives at an appropriate time in the future.
- Lastly, we intend to provide weekly newsletter updates while this matter remains unresolved. Interim updates will be posted to our website and Facebook.
TEXT OF OUR LETTER TO DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL (Mr Tom Leahy) TODAY
Dear Mr Leahy,
Thank you and your team for meeting with us this afternoon. Since the meeting was not officially minuted, we feel it is only right that we communicate to you our understanding of the outcome.
As you are aware, we do want to protect our residents whose houses are prone to flooding while at the same time protecting the amenity that is Clontarf Promenade. Our mandate is to represent the 5000 + people who attended our meeting last Sunday. Their message was loud and clear – tell Dublin City Council we want flood defences but not as they are currently proposed. We also presume to speak for the other thousands of people who come to our prom for relaxation and enjoyment.
At today’s meeting you attempted to convince us that by reducing the height by 0.5 m the whole problem would be solved to our satisfaction. It would be unfair of us to leave you with that impression. We agreed that you would go back to your design team and an Bord Pleanala to see what adjustments could be made to the current permission without having to actually draw up new plans and make a new application. We agreed that you would come back to us in 2 – 3 weeks to let us know the results of these negotiations.
We did not agree however, as is being circulated, that today’s meeting was the basis of an agreement going forward.
We are reasonable people and we will wait the few weeks to see what you propose but we will be expecting a lot more than just a 0.5 m reduction in heights. We understand that DCC are in a difficult position, but it is self inflicted. We were presented with a proposal in 2006 (with much lower height) which we considered reasonable and indicated that it would be acceptable. For reasons best known to your team, they did not see fit to let us know that the whole proposal had changed. We and our elected representatives have been kept in the dark until the contract was almost signed. Even then we only found out by accident. Can you blame us if we are now more than a little cynical about the exercise?
We believe, if the will is there, that ways can be found to have flood defences without going to this extreme. We find it difficult to accept, despite your assertions, that it is not the water main that has contributed to the increase in height. Basically, even though DCC have managed to get a planning permission without proper consultation it may be a ‘planning permission’ but the spirit of the planning legislation has been ignored.
This problem lies with DCC and must be corrected by DCC.
In relation to your presentation, we would also like to request clarification on the following points:
- Can you provide as much supporting detail as possible in relation to the ‘comparative analysis’ on slide 16. In particular, how the scores were arrived at and why the various factors were treated with equal importance.
- In relation to the photographs that compare the original and revised plan, at what height were these taken?
- Are there visual representations of the width of the proposed berm? Can these be supplied?
We may also revert to you during next week if further points need to be clarified.
We also trust that you will review in good faith the detailed submission that we presented to you that outlines very serious concerns we have about the existing plan - many of which relate to matters other than the heights.
We look forward to our next meeting when we hope we will be presented with plans that we will, in turn, be able to present to our members for their consideration.
On behalf of Clontarf Residents Association & Clontarf Business Association