Saturday 21 September 2019

Plans to build new GAA pitch at Dublin university ruffles a few feathers

(stock picture)
(stock picture)

Fionnuala Walsh

Migratory geese are a threat to Dublin City University’s plans to build a new astroturf GAA pitch in St. Patrick’s College.

Locals have objected to the plans for the all-weather sports facilities on the grounds that over 1,600 Brent geese flock to the fields over the winter/spring period.

DCU intends to replace the old playing fields on St. Patrick’s Campus with an artificial turf GAA pitch, an all-weather training area and cross-country tracks in the area that spans 9.6 acres.

Although the pitches are not a protected habitat, the numbers of Brent geese in Europe are “vulnerable” and are an amber listing for conservation concern in Ireland, according to Birdwatch Ireland.

Dublin City Council have put plans on hold to seek more information about the birds before granting planning permission. The application is still on an additional information request since December. They have been given an extension of time until the April 21.

“They will have to respond by early March or it will be invalidated,” according to a planning department spokesperson.

Around 40,000 of the small, dark geese spend winters in Ireland, mostly in the coastal and bay regions. The birds like to feed on grassland like those found in Drumcondra, which explains why they can be found on sport pitches every winter.

“BirdWatch Ireland is concerned with this proposal to astroturf a playing pitch which has been described as a known feeding site for Brent,” said Oonagh Duggan, a spokesperson for BirdWatch Ireland.

“At some point a stop will be required to the development of known Brent feeding grounds as there is the potential that they could impact on the population of the species,” she said.

“DCU has been asked for additional information in support of a number of the aspects of its planning application by Dublin City Council which it will be provided by April next,” said Declan Raftery, Chief Operations Officer for DCU.

DCU are also required to make a lighting report and assessment for their proposed floodlighting for the facility, as there are concerns about light pollution and the effect on local adjoining lands and residences.

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