Environmental activists seek up-to-date data about ecological impact of changes to Dodder Valley Park

By Aideen O'Flaherty

AN ENVIRONMENTAL protest, led by local activist Caragh Coote, took place earlier this month, where protestors gathered at the site of wetlands in Sean Walsh Park before walking to South Dublin County Council’s offices.

The wetlands where the protest began were the subject of national media attention last month, after it emerged that silt was spread on the wetlands, which were home to many different species of wildlife.

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The protestors gathered to voice their disproval of plans for developments in Dodder Valley Park, including the development of a playground, a play trail, a football pitch and a running track at the Firhouse end of the park.

However local activists are concerned about the environmental impact this might have.

Christine Barretto from Dodder Action, who is also the founder of Dodder Valley Litter Mugs, told The Echo: “We’re asking for a pause on development plans in Dodder Valley Park, in order for a more up-to-date and comprehensive assessment of the ecological impact.

“The global movement on our climate crisis is a bigger picture concern and it is felt that this is important in a symbolic way, as well as in a measurable way, that we as a community, county and country are taking the challenges we face seriously in terms of our targets.

“Not only will this development have a negative impact in terms of biodiversity, it will also render a number of species homeless coming into the winter months.

“There are numerous avian species that feed in this particular area.

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The River Dodder

“We are aware that the assessments were done, however the environmental issues have certainly become critical in more recent times.

“We believe that the council want to do right by all parties whilst measuring the environmental impact. There is hope that this will be enough reason to warrant a pause.

“The irreversible damage that could occur if works commence prior to revisiting these concerns is immeasurable.”

A council spokesperson previously told The Echo that the proposed location of the track and pitch “is within an area of the park that has been subject to intensive use by illegal scramblers, quad bikes and motorbikes in the past.

“Aerial photos show the grassland area has been unfortunately disturbed quite significantly by this anti-social behaviour.

Efforts by the council in recent years to introduce some measure of activity into this area has resulted in increased passive surveillance in this part of the park, which in some cases displaces anti-social activity.

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Environmental issues now critical

“The Part 8 public consultation phase of the development plans were “subject to Appropriate Assessment screening, Environmental Impact Assessment Screening and Ecological Impact Assessment.”

The spokesperson added that the plans were designed “in consultation with the ecological consultants engaged for the project, which ensured sensitive species of flora and fauna are not impacted on”, and that the local authority had intentionally omitted lighting for the track and pitch “as particular concerns were raised regarding future lighting in respect of bats and other nocturnal mammals.”

“Existing trees, hedges and the ecologically sensitive grasslands are being retained in accordance with the Part 8 that was passed for the area,” they said.

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