Fish bypass to fix weir impasse
But Fermoy council may be gone first
FERMOY is set to get another bypass after town councillors gave their backing to a radical new plan to finally resolve the long running controversy over the fish pass and weir on the River Blackwater.
The issue was again discussed at this week's monthly meeting of the town council following a detailed presentation by Eddie Fitzgerald of TJ O'Connor Associates, the company that designed the ongoing Fermoy flood plan works.
He outlined the three options available to the council that could be taken to address the issue, which has sparked much controversy in the town over the past six years.
He said repairing the existing fish pass would not fully satisfy the requirements of the EU habitats directive for migrating fish and that the construction of a rock ramp in the river might alter its level affecting leisure activities and potentially putting an extra load on the structure of Fermoy Bridge.
He said the "best and safest" solution would be to build a 'bypass' on the land bank at the northern side of the river as it would address the issue of migrating fish, protect the structure of the bridge and would not require extensive and potentially expensive works on the existing fish ladder in the river.
This would entail constructing a 15-metre wide channel into the land bank that would incorporate a stepped fish pass leading fish into the weir upstream, bypassing the existing and dilapidated fish ladder.
This bypass proposal was met with approval by the eight councillors present.
However, town manager Katherine Walshe said interim measures, before the bypass could be built, would cost in the region of €20,000 but neither she nor Mr Fitzgerald was able to give a costing on the bypass proposal. However, she did point out that the council had set aside €150,000 over the past three years to cover the cost of works to the weir.
With the council agreeing to the plan, Ms Walshe said: "Now we can start the design process. Once that is complete we will bring a draft proposal on the plan back to council for consideration."
However, Cllr Seamus Coleman (SF) queried how far was the council prepared to go in relation to planning, given the fact that the authority is likely to be abolished next year.