Council Briefs: The Cause of Northside Power Outages, and Plans for Clontarf Flood Defences

Why the Power Cuts?

Fine Gael Councillor Naoise Ó Muirí asked officials from the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) in to Monday’s meeting of the North Central Area Committee, to talk through why there had been so many power outages in that part of the city of late.

Recent power outages around Fairview, Donnycarney and Killester were caused by a fault in a transformer at the Fairview ESB station last November, said Mark Stewart, the ESB area manager for Dublin Central at the meeting.

The Fairview ESB station is a high-voltage station with one transformer, said Stewart.

The transformer fault meant the Fairview ESB station was out of action and couldn’t power homes and businesses, he said, so other stations had to pick up the slack.

“That caused significant stress on the immediate network,” he said, and resulted in several power outages.

Stewart said that he expects the issue to be resolved soon. “The transformer has been fully reconditioned and we expect that to be put back into the service in the next four weeks.”

Faults aren’t unusual, said Eoghan Judge, ESB area manager for Dublin North at the same meeting. “We have extensive networks both overhead and underground in that area, of varying ages and quality.”

But the ESB responds to faults in the area 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he said.

Stewart said that it is unlikely that a similar problem would occur elsewhere in the area, because many stations have two transformers. He apologised to customers for the power outages.

The briefing confirmed councillors’ hunches, said Ó Muirí. “That there has been a supply issue in the area.”

Green Party Councillor Donna Cooney asked if vulnerable customers could be given more information when outages hit, about how long they will last.

Judge, of the ESB, said faults in Dublin can affect thousands of people. The ESB doesn’t have enough staff to contact vulnerable users individually, he said, but people can go online and sign up for updates by text.

Social Democrats Councillor Catherine Stocker asked if local data centres were contributing to the problems.

Said Judge: “In no way is data centres responsible for any of these outages.”

When new data centres are proposed, ESB planners assess how they affect the network before approving them, he said.

Flood Defences at Clontarf

“I just feel like we are waiting forever to get anything done,” said Green Party Councillor Donna Cooney, at the North Central Area meeting on Monday.

Cooney tabled a motion calling for a meeting of the consultative committee set up to try to progress plans for flood defences in Clontarf.

That committee hasn’t met for more than a year, she said.

Clontarf has flooded before, badly in 2002 and is at high risk of flooding again if there is a high tide. A small section of the Clontarf Road, opposite St Anne’s Park is protected by a wall but most of Clontarf doesn’t have flood defences.

In 2011, the council worked up detailed plans for the defences, including walls in some parts and natural-looking hills in others. But in December 2011, councillors voted against that.

Since then, there hasn’t been agreement on a way to prevent flooding while keeping the promenade as an amenity and the view of the sea for those driving past.

“The sea is rising in Dublin Bay at twice the rate previously predicted and yet nothing is planned to protect people and homes in the flood risk areas of Clontarf,” says Cooney in her motion.

She would like to see sculptures and children’s play equipment incorporated into designs for flood defences on the promenade, she said at the meeting. And a date set for a meeting within the next fortnight, she said.

Fine Gael Councillor Naoise Ó Muirí said he had tabled a similar motion recently. “We are all looking for the same thing, which is some element of movement on the plan for the seafront.”

It’s around 10 years since the council has proposed an idea for defences there, he said. “This is urgent.”

Other councillors spoke in favour of the motion too. “It is one of the most vulnerable parts of the bay,” said independent Councillor John Lyons.

There is a plan, said independent Councillor Damien O’Farrell, and it needs to be implemented urgently.

The previous plan would have affected the promenade as an amenity, he said.

“The idea is now that we protect the amenity that is the promenade and have a flood defence,” said O’Farrell, who also raised the issue at the meeting via a question to the area manager.

Dublin City Council project manager Gerard O’Connell said that the Flood Defence Projects Office is working up contracts for a consultant to produce design options for the redevelopment of the promenade and the flood-defence project.

O’Connell said his department is liaising internally within the council with the city architects, and the parks department, among others and externally with Irish Water and Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

“We need a multidisciplinary consultants team on board to do all the nitty-gritty and to tie it all together,” he said.

It will take time, he said, and once the consultants are on board they will prepare a planning proposal which will go to An Bord Pleanála as what’s known as a part 10 planning permission.

He is willing to provide an update to the consultative committee, he said.

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Laoise Neylon: Laoise Neylon is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at [email protected]

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