Sunday 24 March 2019

Erosion needs 'urgent action'

Sorcha Crowley at Sligo County Council meeting

Rock Armour sea defences are needed urgently at Strandhill to protect the coastline from erosion.

That's the view of Fianna Fáil Cllr Tom MacSharry who pressed the Council to apply for funding for rock armour.

However Chief Executive Ciarán Hayes advised that the OPW were concerned that before any intervention took place, detailed studies should be done of any potential consequences up and down the coast.

"I accept what the Chief Executive has to say but you mightn't have a coastline to look into," said Cllr MacSharry.

"I've met with a family in the area who have a very successful business and they have seen the coast dissipate year after year. It's frightening, it's really frightening," he said.

He called for rock armour to be placed along the shore from the caravan park down as far as the sewage treatment plant and asked if another source of funding could be found at EU level.

Director of Services Tom Kilfeather agreed that such a project would go beyond their normal funding resources and said it was correct to look further afield.

"This goes beyond soft engineering. It's a very significant intervention and costs" he replied and said it would be a matter for the Government and the OPW.

Cllr MacSharry asked that the issue be looked at and Ciarán Hayes said he would look into it.

"There is no argument from us in terms of what you're saying. We absolutely recognise the seriousness of the issue but we don't want to be addressing it this way and causing problems up the coast," he told Cllr MacSharry, adding that erosion was having a serious impact everywhere along the coast.

"If it doesn't happen in time we're going to lose either the Golf Club in Rosses Point or the Caravan Park in Strandhill. That's how serious this is," warned Cllr MacSharry.

Cllr Rosaleen O'Grady said a national plan was needed, to address rising sea levels.

Fine Gael Cllr Sinead Maguire disagreed with Cllr MacSharry, saying she didn't believe rock armour was the answer.

"When we put in the rock armour in front of the sewage plant it lost us one third of our biggest dune. The rocks are also highly dangerous for surfers at high tide," she told the chamber.

She said she agreed with the Chief Executive that more studies were needed: "Unfortunately Strandhill is built on a sand spit and we are fighting the tide," she said.

"It is a concern," said Sinn Féin Cllr Chris MacManus. "We need to be ready to intervene at short notice because it is receding," he said.

Independent Cllr Declan Bree agreed in principal with Cllr MacSharry but wasn't so sure rock armour was the solution either. He called for more advice on sea defences.

Cllr MacSharry accepted that Cllrs Maguire and Bree were against rock armour and said a compromise was needed. "Unfortunately we will have a surf centre and people might not be able to surf," he said.

Sligo Champion