Spawning survey could halt flood prevention works

People living in a West Cork village have reacted angrily to news that a potential spawning ground may hold up vital work which could prevent their homes and businesses being flooded yet again.

They’re claiming that laws enforced by Inland Fisheries Ireland are putting people’s lives and livelihoods at risk.

Cork County Council officials have confirmed they’ve been ordered by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) to carry out a survey on the Milltown river at Rathbarry to see if it is a spawning bed for salmon and trout.

The survey could take several months to complete and if it is found to be a spawning bed, that could make it even more difficult for the council to obtain permission from IFI to dredge the river.

The council needs to get a permit from three statutory organisations — IFI, the National Parks & Wildlife Service and Coillte — to carry out cleaning works on rivers between Nov 1 and Apr 31. Between May 1 and Sep 30, no work is permitted because of the spawning season.

Joseph Hodnett, who runs Rathbarry Post Office with his mother, Breda, said since the premises was extensively flooded last June, there have been many near misses since.

“This is bureaucracy gone mad. I can’t believe there’s any spawning ground there. It’s putting the lives of fish above our own,” he said.

John O’Regan, 65, who has lived all his life in the area said he was concerned the river might not be cleaned.

“We never got flooded before. I was flooded twice last year and only putting up sandbags prevented my home from getting flooded last Thursday. I’m very concerned about this.”

Meanwhile, people living in Ballinacarty experienced flooding again last Thursday, and are demanding that their local river be dredged and cleared of debris.

No river cleaning was carried out there last year, but council officials are hoping they’ll be able to do some this year, if they get permission from the three statutory bodies.

Jerry McCarthy says trees hanging into the river will clog it up if they aren’t removed.

“It’s ridiculous. Every night I’m in bed and hear the rain I think we’re going to get flooded again. I’ve put up sandbags up to eight times in the last six months. I’d feel a bit better if the river was cleaned. Some years ago council workers used to clean the river once or twice a year.”

Fiona O’Sullivan, whose hairdressing business was also flooded last week said: “It’s ridiculous that people’s livelihoods and houses can be destroyed because of some fish,” she said.

Teddy O’Donovan who owns the village shop and Henry Ford’s bar also had to move stock and put up sandbags last Thursday.

He’s asked the council several times to clean the river and described the attitude of the statutory organisations as “a crazy carry on”.

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