independent

Sunday 21 July 2019

New blue flag water project launched

From left: Eoin Kinsella, assistant agricultural scientist, Wexford Co Council; Sinead Casey, district manager, Wexford Co Council; John Carley, director of services, Wexford Co Council; Cllr Michael Whelan; Minister Andrew Doyle; council cathaoirleach John Fleming; Brenda Cooney, senior executive scientist, Wexford Co Council; Cllr Willie Fitzharris; Cllr Martin Murphy; and Dr. Mairead Shore, from the Local Authorities Water Programme
From left: Eoin Kinsella, assistant agricultural scientist, Wexford Co Council; Sinead Casey, district manager, Wexford Co Council; John Carley, director of services, Wexford Co Council; Cllr Michael Whelan; Minister Andrew Doyle; council cathaoirleach John Fleming; Brenda Cooney, senior executive scientist, Wexford Co Council; Cllr Willie Fitzharris; Cllr Martin Murphy; and Dr. Mairead Shore, from the Local Authorities Water Programme

David Looby

An innovative project to get a blue flag for Duncannon Beach has been launched in the seaside village.

€550,000 was recently awarded to Wexford County Council by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the European Innovation Project to fund a unique initiative aimed at improving water quality.

The project was officially launched by Minister Andrew Doyle, Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, in Duncannon Community Hall, with representatives from all the project stakeholders in attendance, including the local community, the farming community, Wexford County Council, Teagasc and others.

The money was awarded by the Mr Doyle under the European Innovation Project and it is hoped the project will lead to the popular seaside village recovering its former Blue Flag status.

The initiative involves cooperation between farmers, scientists, advisors, NGOs, and others who have come together in an operational group to address the issue of water quality in the local area.

The Duncannon project is one of a number of Department of Agriculture innovation partnerships designed to road-test new ideas and practices which can then be used more widely by farmers and others to improve productivity, enhance resource efficiency and pursue sustainable farming practices, and in this case to demonstrate how good agriculture practices can help minimise impact on local water quality.

The initiative will see implementation of innovative practices, based on research carried out by the Teagasc Agricultural Catchments Programme. It will see the mapping each and every farm and farmyard, the identification of any pollution potential zones 'PPZ' and then using them as education and engagement tools to show farmers in a simple visual way, the water-quality risks specific to their farms. The project will also involve local farmers themselves collaboratively proposing solutions to problems identified on their farms which are workable and which they are willing to implement. These solutions would also be used as the basis for a water-quality focused, results-based, reward scheme which could be used to improve water-quality in particularly sensitive catchments.

Included in the project is a mechanism to effectively communicate and share local water-quality results with the local community and the establishing local 'citizen scientist' groups whereby local community members monitor the quality of their local streams and develop a pollution alert system.

The Duncannon Blue Flag Farming and Community Scheme project was one of 12 to which funding was awarded in 2018 under the European Innovation Partnerships (EIP) initiative of Ireland's Rural Development Programme. The county council will use the funding to employ a full-time Assistant Agricultural Scientist and part-time Clerical Officer over a three-year period.

New Ross Standard

News