Wetlands plan put on hold

By Hayden Moore

PLANS for the construction of a boardwalk in the Tallaght Wetlands site have reportedly been put on hold in the wake of the accidental destruction of the site back in September.

South Dublin County Council previously explained how the spreading of silt on an area of wetlands rich in biodiversity in Sean Walsh Park was a “miscommunication” between themselves and an operator.

Sean Walsh Park 07 compressorThe wetlands in Sean Walsh Park

During a de-silting of one of the ponds in the park, the waste was to be placed in mounds next to the site, but it was spread and flattened over the ecosystem by mistake.

Included in the Draft Tallaght Town Centre Local Area Plan 2020-2026 as a “constructed wetlands” by the council, reports have now emerged that the plan has been scrapped.

In the wake of the incident, local conservationist Collie Ennis told The Echo that he was “in talks with the council to build a boardwalk” on site, that would “serve as a flagship site to model other greenway spaces”.

As reported this week nationally, it is understood that prior to damage, the council sought €21,000 from the National Parks and Wildlife Service for this boardwalk project.

However, these plans have now been shelved after the council reportedly withdrew its application for funding.

Speaking to The Echo in lieu of recent developments, Collie Ennis, science officer with the Herpetological Society of Ireland [HSI], said: “The time to do something is now. Animals are still out, so there is some cause for concern with heavy machinery now in danger of harming any that are still in the area.

“Any construction work that we do with the Herpetological Society of Ireland is done over the winter period in late November, December and then we usually stop in mid-January because with climate change, animals are breeding earlier and earlier.

Tallaght Wetlands Collie Ennis next to the metres of silt dumped ontop of wetlands compressor

Collie Ennis at the wetlands after the silt was spread

“It is encouraging to see that an ecologist is being brought on site to carry out an assessment of the area, but that’s going to take months.

“The cynical part of me is worried that this is just a can-kicking exercise – and that’s a testament to how many lies they’ve been telling from the start.

“Their mantra is that it wasn’t a wetland from the start, but if it wasn’t a wetland then why did they have an application seeking €21,000 from the National Parks and Wildlife Service for a wetlands enhancement project?”

He added: “It’s been one big contradiction after another, first it was that it has just always been a dumping ground, then it was the mud flattened itself out overnight and spread into the wetlands site, and now they apparently knew it was a wetlands all along and were applying for funding to enhance it?”

However, Collie did offer a glimmer of hope for the site.

“I’ve been told that they’ve withdrawn the application for now with the hopes of extending the site into a bigger wetlands down the line,” he said.

The Echo reached out to South Dublin County Council for comment but did not receive a reply at the time of going to print.

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