herald

Friday 2 December 2016

Fears port dredge plan will be threat to wildlife habitats

Dublin port
Dublin port

Deep concerns about dumping 10 million tonnes of dredged material into Dublin Bay were expressed by An Taisce this week.

The national conservation body wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday criticising the plan by the Dublin Port Company to dump the material in the bay five miles from Howth Head.

The port company plans to deepen the sea bed in an area of the port to enable huge cruise ships to dock.

Bord Pleanala granted permission for the project but the EPA must decide whether it will grant approval for dumping 10 million tons of the dredged material at the Burford Bank in the bay.

Wildlife

In the submission, An Taisce said Dublin Bay is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with designations under directives protecting wildlife habitats.

In addition to strategic areas of conservation and special protection areas around the bay, there are designated offshore areas of protection concerning reefs and the porpoises that live in the bay waters.

An Taisce said the bay area is a significant recreational amenity for swimming, sailing, canoeing, wildlife observation, and diving.

The dredged material would be dumped over a five-year period.

"This raises significant impact concerns on the ecology of the bay," said the submission.

"In addition to this there is the potential level of heavy metals in the Dublin Port operational area which have lodged in the sediment proposed for dredging," it stated.

It also stated that an additional one million tonnes of dredging proposed by the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company for a cruise ship terminal in the borough would also be dumped in the same area.

An Taisce also raised questions about the EPA's current ability to examine all aspects of the proposals adequately given the complexity of new protections for wildlife in the bay.

A spokesman for Dublin Port Company said the company would be making no comment on An Taisce's concerns because the matter was now under consideration by the EPA.

At a Bord Pleanala hearing, the company indicated it had been dredging shipping channels for decades and dumping silt in the same area.

Ian Lumley, heritage officer of An Taisce, said the sheer scale of the dumping could be harmful to porpoises in particular. Just because dumping was carried out in the past does not make it right, he said.

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