Council wants river dredging rethink

FOLLOWING an emergency meeting of the town council, Bandon’s town manager is to write to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) asking them to reconsider their outright opposition to the dredging of the River Bandon.

Anger has been mounting in the West Cork town all summer over the South Western Regional Fisheries Board’s (SWRFB) refusal to allow the extensive cleaning of the river. The board has argued that dredging the river will not prevent a reoccurrence of last November’s flash flooding and will only serve to destroy the river’s fish population.

The town council has also been requested to write to the Office of Public Works demanding that the state agency support their call for a reversal of the IFI’s stance.

The letter will also seek clarification on whether Junior Minister Martin Mansergh holds a directive to overrule IFI’s objections.

County engineer Noel O’Keeffe had previously agreed with the IFI’s opposition to dredging and said cleaning the river above water level would be sufficient.

The River Bandon was dredged in the 1980s but legislation has since given the IFI ultimate control over whether a river is dredged or not. Bandon traders and residents are claiming that the river is “like a landfill” and needs extensive cleaning to reduce the water levels.

There was uproar earlier this week when the ESB, under pressure from anglers, re-instated a gravel bank in the middle of the river, which the county council had just removed.

The council workers have been removing all debris and gravel above water level, as agreed with SWRFB.

Following the emergency meeting, county council workers were forced to remove the ESB gravel. It was also agreed at the meeting that tree branches, dangling into the river, are to be cut down in the coming days.

Fianna Fáil’s Cllr Seán O’Donovan called the emergency meeting after he took photographs highlighting “banks upon banks of gravel build-up, 25 tree trunks in the river and various obstructions in culverts and drains from Baxter’s Bridge to Innishannon”.

It was also requested at the meeting that Bandon’s flood action plan be discussed at the next Cork County Council meeting.

Meanwhile, Mr O’Keeffe has called on the Department of the Environment to speed up their decision on Bandon’s application for a €10-€12 million drainage scheme. As part of the project, storm water pipes will be separated from foul water pipes, helping alleviate flash flooding.

Last night, a spokesman for the department said it is “currently examining the revised contract documents for the Bandon Sewerage Scheme Phase 2 and will revert to Cork County Council in the coming weeks.”


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