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Planning Board Not Satisfied Over Bird Protection on Remote Island

category national | environment | press release author Wednesday June 24, 2020 22:47author by foie - Friends of the Irish Environment Report this post to the editors

Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment 24th June 2020

PLANNING BOARD QUESTIONS DURSEY ISLAND MASS TOURISM PROJECT
Not Satisfied Over Bird Protection on Remote Island

An Bord Pleanála has sought further information on the application by Cork County Council in partnership with Fáilte Ireland for a €10 million development on Dursey Island off the west Cork coast.

The 6.5 km long uninhabited island, currently accessed by a cable car with a capacity of 6 and return journey time of 20 minutes, is to be replaced by a state-of-the-art two-way cable car system capable of carrying up to 300 people each way every hour. The project includes an extensive Visitor Centre with restaurant, gift shop and glazed elevator on the mainland.
dursey_island_location.jpg

FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT
PRESS RELEASE
IMMEDIATE RELEASE
24 JUNE 2020

PLANNING BOARD QUESTIONS DURSEY ISLAND MASS TOURISM PROJECT
Not Satisfied Over Bird Protection on Remote Island

An Bord Pleanála has sought further information on the application by Cork County Council in partnership with Fáilte Ireland for a €10 million development on Dursey Island off the west Cork coast.

The 6.5 km long uninhabited island, currently accessed by a cable car with a capacity of 6 and return journey time of 20 minutes, is to be replaced by a state-of-the-art two-way cable car system capable of carrying up to 300 people each way every hour. The project includes an extensive Visitor Centre with restaurant, gift shop and glazed elevator on the mainland.

Compulsory purchase orders for lands needed for the development and for 16 passing bays on the 6 km stretch of road connecting to the main ‘Ring of Beara’ Road have been made by Council.

In a letter dated 19 June, 2020, the Board has told the Cork County Council that it is not satisfied that the mitigation measures proposed are sufficient to address the ‘potential likely significant effects’ on the ‘chough bird species or its feeding habitat’. The area at the extreme end of the island where the greatest number of tourists go is also the main area where the choughs gather, feed, and breed.

Choughs, a species with special protection under national and EU law and amber listed as a bird of conservation concern, have shown a decline in numbers on the island by 30% since 2003 corresponding with an increase in visitor numbers, which reached 20,000 last year.

In addition, according to Birdwatch Ireland’s submission, 'the failure of the state to undertake a Chough census in 2012 means there is a knowledge gap on the national numbers of the species and caution is required in this hotspot for Chough in the South West'. BirdWatch Ireland also questioned the current lack of conservation management of the Special Protection Area ‘which is showing Chough declines on the island which is worrying in the context of projected significantly increased visitor numbers under the proposed plan’.

The Board specifically questioned the ‘flush distances’ – the distance from a visitor that disturbs the birds – and ‘how the developers proposed to protect a chough nesting site in a derelict building’.

It is echoing the NGO submissions in seeking a Visitor Management Plan to ‘conserve an ecologically sensitive environment managing maximum capacity for visitors both to the island and the mainland visitor centre on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis as appropriate’. It requires a response by 31 July, whereupon it will determine if there should be a further period of public consultation.

Friends of the Irish Environment Director Tony Lowes said that ‘the Board’s questions highlight the protection of the ecology which cannot be reconciled with the impacts of mass tourism’.

In its submission to An Bord Pleanála, An Taisce said ‘The inappropriate promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way as a private car route is undermining the quality and experience of the wild coastal landscape that it is seeking to promote and is creating congestion points. Projects seeking to attract larger visitor numbers, and consequently causing traffic generation and physical impacts, should not be located in areas of ecological or landscape sensitivity and which do not have the carrying capacity for the impact and service demand generated.’

ENDS
CONTACTS
Tony Lowes, Friends of the Irish Environment 353 (0)87 2176316 / 353 (0)27 74771
Daithí Ó hÉalaithe (Irish language) +353 (0)87 6178852

NGOs
http://www.antaisce.org/
https://birdwatchireland.ie/
https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/
ENDS

Copyright © 2020 Friends of the Irish Environment, All rights reserved.
Press Release

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Friends of the Irish Environment
Kilcatherine
Eyeries, Cork P75 CX53

Ireland

Related Link: https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17823-planning-board-questions-dursey-island-mass-tourism-project
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