Impact study in bid to save weir at risk of collapse in Fermoy

Cork County Council is to carry out an economic impact study in an effort to persuade government departments of the value of replacing a collapsing weir on the River Blackwater in Co Cork.

Councillors believe that if the weir is not replaced then valuable tourism revenue, especially from coarse and game fishing, will be lost to the Fermoy area and it could also have an impact on water sports.

Assistant county manager, James Fogarty, said the council cannot afford to fund repairs on its own and unfortunately to date appeals to government agencies for financial support “had fallen on deaf ears”.

Members of the council’s northern committee are concerned about the loss of tourist revenue from salmon fishing in the area and the impact the weir damage is having on the local rowing club.

Scores of people turned up at a recent public demonstration in the town demanding that the structure is fixed before it is completely washed away and asking that a new fish pass be installed there to help salmon get upriver to spawn.

Debris washed down the river during major floods in recent years has caused the damage.

Councillors held a special meeting to explore the best affordable option to bring the weir back to its former glory.

It is a protected structure which is more than 200 years old.

Their officials are to ascertain the scope of the works required; the permissions needed from various bodies to carry out such works, the procurement procedure to be followed, and most importantly the funding needed for these works.

In the meantime the council is seeking an urgent meeting with relevant agencies such as Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Council officials are also seeking consultations with the Office of Public Works (OPW) in order to establish the impact any proposed works on the weir may have on the town’s newly installed flood defences.

Mr Fogarty said the weir will have to be completely replaced and not just patched up in certain places.

He said he is anxious to seek financial support from other government agencies to ensure the project can be carried out.

Cllr Frank O’Flynn said the town benefits significantly from fishing tourism and this could be lost if the weir is not replaced.

Councillors have agreed to hold a special meeting in early July to discuss any progress which has been made in the interim.

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