People in the aquaculture industry are deeply concerned about plans to dump 100,000 tonnes of silt in Donegal Bay.
Councillors at Tuesday’s meeting of the Municipal District (MD) of Donegal therefore agreed to ask Minister Michael Creed TD to meet a deputation on the matter.
Cllr Niamh Kennedy raised the issue at the meeting. She said it would be remiss not to discuss this important local issue.
She explained that the silt would come from a proposed berthing for eight to ten large fishing boats.
The dredged material would be brought on shore. It would then be sorted, with hazardous matter taken out, cleaned and brought to landfill.
Rocks would be stored on the shore for future use.
It is plans for the remaining silt that are controversial.
The Department of the Marine says it would be clean and would be dumped safely.
The aquaculture branch of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is not so sure.
Executive of IFA Aquaculture, Richie Flynn said: “We are all in favour of coastal economic development and the extension of facilities in Killybegs which require dredging but the consequences of the Department’s proposals to dump the spoil in a site which was previously associated with fish kills would outweigh the benefits by ruining the livelihoods of oyster, mussel and salmon farmers in the bay."
In fact, the IFA fears stock damage could reach €50m.
Speaking at the MD meeting, Cllr Kennedy said the silt being dumped was equivalent to 2,863 truckloads.
“It would not be viable to move it over land,” she said.
Cllr Kennedy said the Department had researched the process with regard to potential damage. Furthermore, the entire process was subject to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granting a license.
She pointed out that any undue stalling could lead to Killybegs losing the entire development. But the Killybegs councillor said issues had been raised locally and it was important they were heard.
“We should voice the concerns of the people in our area,” she said. “We have a duty to note that we have concerns about the future of Donegal Bay.”
Cllr Noel Jordan agreed. He said the Department of the Marine was working to stringent controls but there were concerns. He also acknowledged the economic significance of the development.
“It is a huge amount of funding to miss out on,” he said. “It could go elsewhere.”
Members agreed that Donegal MD would submit an official observation about local concerns before the closing date this Friday.
Cllr Barry O’Neill said successive governments had always had a listening ear when it came to Killybegs.
“I don’t think it would be a lot to ask of the Minister to see a deputation of local members,” he said.
Members supported his proposal that a deputation of Donegal MD councillors meet Minister Creed to outline local concerns.
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