herald

Saturday 19 October 2019

Work 'essential', insists council as group claims it 'destroyed' wetlands

The flattened lands at Sean Walsh Memorial Park after the work by South Dublin County Council
The flattened lands at Sean Walsh Memorial Park after the work by South Dublin County Council

South Dublin County Council (SDCC) has defended its decision to flatten lands in a Tallaght park after it was accused of "killing" thousands of creatures, including endangered eels.

It comes after a conservationist said he was "grieving" the loss of the urban wetland at Sean Walsh Memorial Park - home to diverse wildlife.

Footage and photographs posted online showed the area, which had been home to species including frogs, newts, bats and endangered European eels, after it had been flattened by council machinery.

Toxic

The Herpetological Society of Ireland (HSI) called for the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate, saying the "dredged waste is full of toxic materials, plastic and household waste".

"We've seen batteries, tablet packs, condoms, you name it, it's there. It's very clear there was no screening the material prior to it being dumped. Essentially, an incredibly diverse habitat has been destroyed," it said.

However, in a statement to the Herald yesterday, SDCC claimed the action was an "essential" part of a process of removing silt and rubbish.

"As part of a planned process of removing built-up silt and illegally dumped rubbish from the man-made lakes in Sean Walsh Park, SDCC carried out de-silting works during the summer months," it said.

"The de-silting and cleaning of the lakes is essential for improving the natural habitat of the park and for flood alleviation measures in the area.

"While in excess of 40 tonnes of illegally dumped rubbish was removed off-site, the drained silt was placed in mounds on an uncultivated area of the park to the north of the wetlands in Sean Walsh Park.

"Following these works in Sean Walsh Park, the silt mounds were levelled.

Herpetological Society of Ireland’s Collie Ennis
Herpetological Society of Ireland’s Collie Ennis

"The council will immediately review the practice of the disposal of silt drained from lakes. However, best practice dictates that the material removed is placed as close to the origin as possible.

"The council will continue to work to enhance the wetlands in Sean Walsh Park and in the county through its Constructed Wetlands Programme."

The HSI criticised the decision to flatten the lands, saying it was "heartbreaking".

"This was a vibrant multi-layered ecosystem, home to protected newts, frogs, bats and critically endangered European eels," the society said, describing the action as "environmental vandalism". Collie Ennis, who is a science officer with HSI, said that he was "grieving" after the destruction of the green space.

Mr Ennis said it was hard to believe how anyone could "drive a truck full of sludge on to wetland full of birds, bees and butterflies and not stop and see the beauty being destroyed".

"Thousands of species have been killed, buried alive," he added.

Sean Walsh Memorial Park is in Tallaght
Sean Walsh Memorial Park is in Tallaght

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