Fermoy Weir 'neglected and undermined' say local campaigners

By Olivia Kelleher

A 200-year-old weir in Co Cork is in danger of disintegrating and washing away after years of neglect by the local authority and Government departments, according to local campaigners.

The Save Fermoy Weir group plan to hold a massive demonstration on the River Blackwater this morning.

Donal O’Keeffe, of the group, says the weir is at the very heart of activity in Fermoy and is the “picture postcard” image of the town.

The badly damaged salmon pass has long been an attraction for anglers whilst the weir has been an amenity for rowing, swimming and sub aqua clubs. Mr O’Keeffe says that politicians and bureaucrats want to “quietly let the weir wash away”.

“We should be capitalising on it. It is time for those who care about our river – and our town to start making noise again. The weir is neglected and undermined, eroded and broken.”

Mr O’Keeffe started his campaign to save the weir in 2006. In the interim period, the weir has been further damaged by flooding which has brought large amounts of debris downstream at high speed. The badly damaged salmon pass is impacting migration and spawning.

It is understood that EU fines could be imposed on Cork County Council which has yet to build a ‘fish path’ for migrating salmon.

Cork County Council say they are currently liaising with a number of government departments in an effort to establish the department to engage with regarding a request for capital funding for the works at Fermoy Weir.

In a statement, they stress that commencement and completion date for the works is dependent on the Council securing funding at a national level. It is understood that the council, subject to the provision of funding, intends to prepare an application to seek approval from An Bord Pleanála for the construction of a new fish bypass channel on the River Blackwater in order to comply with the EU Habitats Directive to resolve fish passage issues caused by Fermoy Weir.

“The scope of the works has been agreed with the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment and Inland Fisheries Ireland and will include the construction of a new fish bypass channel on the north bank of the River Blackwater and the capping of the existing weir," the statement reads.

"The existing temporary repairs on the Fish ladder and breaches to the weir at O’Neill Crowley Quay will be addressed.”

The council concludes by saying that the preparation of the planning application will be a lengthy process.

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