Residents near Mornington beach are concerned at serious damage to the dunes recently, where a large, gaping hole has been dug in the sand, and the sand removed for some reason.
The trench is not only dangerous and unsightly, it is also illegal, as the area is a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive.
Coney Hall resident Joe Ryan was walking near the Maiden’s Tower last week, when he caught sight of two youths using a bucket to scoop out some sand.
"I didn’t take much notice at first, as I thought they were just having a bit of fun," says Joe, “but the following day, I saw the size of the hole, and knew there was something wrong.
"You could see that it was really large and square, and they must have been using a shovel and taking it away for something.”
He says, In the past, some may have thought sand dunes were just nice places for walks, plants and animals.
"There is now a growing realisation that coastal dunes can be a big part of our fight against climate change and storm damage. Damage to the dunes results in the sand blowing away," he adds.
“There are three signs at the Harry's Supermarket entrance to Mornington beach asking that people be mindful of damage that can be caused to the dune area. There is no sign at the Maiden's Tower entrance, so perhaps Meath County Council would consider a second such sign.”
The signs were erected by Meath County Council in September in a bid to protect the dunes from damage, with a new boardwalk opened last week to encourage visitors not to stray off designated paths.
"A letter has also been issued to clubs and organisations asking them not to train in this sensitive area; if we continue to damage these dunes, they quite simply won’t be around for our children and grandchildren to see in the years to come,” explained local councillor Sharon Tolan.
“We are working on a wider protection and management plan, to identify ways we can ensure protection but also access and enjoyment for the public, including possible parking solutions”.
Meanwhile residents are hoping people would contact Meath County Council or the gardai if they see suspicious activities or vandalism taking place in the dunes.