Killarney National Park road would kill tourism ‘golden goose’ 

Local politicians in Kerry have been urged to reject the development of a road close to what an environmental group has dubbed one of Europe’s and Ireland’s most sensitive nature conservation sites.

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) are appealing to county councillors not to “kill the golden [tourism] goose”.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has applied to the council for permission to build a 1km paved road in the Beaufort area, at the edge of Killarney National Park.

Councillors will soon vote on a request for a material contravention of the county development plan to allow road access to the Tomies Wood area of the park, which is frequented by walkers and wildlife. Ancient oakwoods are a feature of the area, which is home to the reintroduced white-tailed eagles, while Greenland white-fronted geese use it as a wintering home.

FIE director Tony Lowes said both birds required the highest degree of protection from disturbance and the geese, in particular, were sensitive to humans within 800m. In a letter to councillors, he stated: “This site is unique within Ireland. It is a national park, a Special Area of Conservation, a special protection area for birds, a natural heritage area and core areas of a Unesco biosphere reserve. It is defined in the management plan as ‘a wilderness area composed of a mosaic of wildlife habitats’.”

Mr Lowes said the group had no objection to a car park at the narrow public road on which cars park.

There is vehicular access for the NPWS and Coillte, by agreement, but the public is limited to walking.

A material contravention is a procedure whereby councillors can overrule the county development plan. The Tomies area is protected as “prime special amenity” in the plan and roads are not permitted. A material contravention would require three-quarters of councillors to vote for the proposal.

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