THE commitment of Cork County Council to dredging and coastal improvement works in West Cork was described as “a shambles” at the recent council meeting held in County Hall where several West Cork councillors voiced their frustration at the lack of commitment from the local authority.
The villages of Courtmacsherry and Ring and Reen Pier near Castletownshend were all said to be in danger of silting up completely due to neglect according to councillors.
The issue was raised by members of the council’s Coastal Management Committee who proposed a motion demanding a properly funded and planned annual dredging programme be put in place.
Courtmacsherry councillor John O’Sullivan said the coast was “being forgotten about” and that the council needed to “get serious and get real” about addressing the issue. He said the main channel in Courtmacsherry hasn’t been dredged for 20 years and the pontoon was now listing to one side presenting a serious health and safety issue.
Bantry’s Danny Collins said the lack of dredging in Ballylickey was causing major problems and was threatening local homes while Mary Hegarty said there was a clear need for dredging in the wider Bantry area.
Clonakilty-based Christopher O’Sullivan said that the very viability of several coastal locations was now under threat. He said that at Ring near Clonakilty sandbars were so bad that the pier would soon be unusable while a similar situation was developing at Reen Pier opposite Castletownshend that is a major base for whale watching and other marine activities. He echoed John O’Sullivan’s calls for action to be taken in Courtmacsherry also.
According to Skibbereen’s Joe Carroll, Cork County Council “do not put a proper value on the coast” and described the current situation as “a shambles”.
Patrick Murphy from Bantry said that despite being used by 75,000 people a year the pier at Glengarriff has seen no investment in years.
Paul Hayes from Clonakilty said that to the people of West Cork the coast was as “important as the M50 is to the people of Dublin” and called for a proper annual plan of works. He said that in Courtmacsherry the lifeboat had only 3ft clearance in some places and had to accelerate hard just o get over a sandbar when leaving port. He said if the pontoon was not sorted out there would soon be nowhere for it to dock.
Marcia Dalton from Passage West said that Cork County Council was a long way behind many other coastal counties in the way it dealt with its coastline and said that there was a serious lack of expertise in the area and a dedicated coastal section needed to be established.
Council Deputy Chief Executive Declan Daly said that €1.1m was spent last year on coastal protection projects and that the council would look at funding and grant options as well as liaising with other bodies with responsibilities along the coast.
He added that funding was however limited and the case had to be made to justify projects as in any other area of council expenditure.