A row over the removal of thousands of tonnes of sand from one of the south-west’s most popular beaches has led to calls for a prohibition on its removal from the area.
There have been claims the taking of sand from Banna, outside Tralee, Co Kerry, is exacerbating dune erosion locally.
The Department of the Marine recently instructed Kerry County Council to cease all dredging and sand removal works at Banna, pointing out a foreshore licence was required.
The issue was raised at yesterday’s meeting of Tralee Municipal Authority, with Sinn Féin councillor Pa Daly saying it was “crazy” to be taking sand from a beach where several metres of dune area had disappeared in last year’s storms.
“The sand should be used to shore up the dunes which are being damaged all along the coast here,” he said.
Sinn Féin councillor Toiréasa Ferris pointed out the beach and dunes were in a Special Area of Conservation and the sand removal might not be allowed under EU legislation.
The sand had been excavated from the mouth of Akeragh river, where the Banna and Ballyheigue beaches meet, to prevent local flooding and was transported to Tralee Golf Club, at Barrow, for use on the links course.
Engineers said the council did not have a viable alternative to disposing of 20,000 tonnes of sand stockpiled at Banna, adding dredged sand was not suitable for use in the dunes because of its nutrient content.
Council manager Charlie O’Sullivan said the council had statutory responsibility for the Akeragh drainage network which discharged into the sea.
“The mouth of the river/drainage network has always been susceptible to blockage and, for many decades now, Kerry County Council had to ‘dredge’ and clear the mouth to ensure the ongoing drainage of the lands,” he said.
These works were carried out under the Arterial Drainage Act, 1945, at the location for decades.
Historically, excavated sands were stockpiled on the beach and distributed throughout the dunes.
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