30 September 2023
By Tom Collins
A new green drainage system designed to capture and purify rainwater run-off from roads and footpaths has been unveiled at East Beach in Cobh by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and Cork County Council.
The ‘Nature Based Solution’ National Pilot Project will help manage rainwater run-off using urban trees and rain gardens with plants and soil specially chosen to act as natural filters, cleaning dirty water before it’s released into waterways or the sea. This innovative approach to surface water management not only reduces flood risk, but also enhances water quality, fosters biodiversity, and improves the built environment.
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD joined Cllr. Alan O’Connor deputising for the Mayor of the County of Cork to launch the first stage of the Pilot Project in Cobh; a temporary demonstrator rain garden at East Beach to test and monitor the quality of rainwater run-off and bio-retention soils used for water filtration.
The next step is a permanent rain garden at Westbourne Place and Five- Foot way, creating beautiful and sustainable public spaces to promote leisure and wellbeing.
The project aligns with the new River Basin Management Policy 2022-2027 and has been funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage with an allocation of €2m spread over the course of four years.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Noonan said, “I am excited to see the demonstrator project, which is the initial phase of Cobh’s nature-based solutions pilot project and also to engage with the local school children who have been participating in educational workshops where they are learning about nature-based solutions, biodiversity and giving their view on where these can be incorporated into their town. My department will soon launch the third River-Basin Management Plan and projects like this are fantastic examples of how communities can come together to help address water quality issues in their area.”
Cllr. O’Connor paid tribute to the local community for their contribution to the project, “I would like to thank the members of Cobh Tidy Towns and the primary school children from Gaelscoil Uí Éigeartaigh, Bunscoil Rinn An Chabhlaigh, St. Josephs and St. Marys National School for being here today and for playing such a pivotal role in promoting and implementing the rain garden demonstrator. They participated in workshops on nature-based solutions and have taken great pride in decorating this new green infrastructure for their town. Projects such as this will encourage people to live, work and reconnect with nature in the heritage town centre of Cobh.”
The pilot project forms an integral part of the climate action commitments outlined in Cork County Council’s Cobh Town Centre Urban Design Plan.
Valerie O’Sullivan, Divisional Manager for South Cork at Cork County Council, welcomed this unique pilot project in Cobh, “New urban green infrastructure is crucial for the sustainable development of our town centres while nurturing resilient local communities. Cork County Council is proud to work with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage on this innovative pilot project. Nature based solutions such as these form a vital part of the transformational Cobh Public Realm Plan that weaves nature back into the fabric of the town and aims to mitigate the effects of climate change.”