Sunday 27 January 2008

Public consultation to form part of Lough Derg Development Strategy

Members of the public in Clare, Galway and North Tipperary and are being asked for their input on the formulation of a tourism and recreational development strategy for Lough Derg.

The aim of the 'Lough Derg Sustainable Marina, Recreational & Tourism Development Strategy' is to maintain and improve tourism visitor services, recreational facilities and environmental amenities around the lake and River Shannon.

Clare County Council (Lead Partner), Galway County Council, North Tipperary County Council and Shannon Development are currently conducting a study that will formulate a strategy for the provision of marina and tourism-related developments along the shoreline of Lough Derg. The study will focus on identifying existing facilities and determining future market demand for marina/berthing/moorings or other relevant tourism developments around the lake.

The upcoming series of public consultations will take place at -

* Shannon Oaks Hotel, Portumna (2-8pm, Tuesday 29th Jan);
* Lakeside Hotel, Ballina, County Tipperary (2-8pm, Wednesday 30th Jan) - and
* Kincora Hall Hotel, Killaloe, County Clare (2-8pm, Thursday 31st Jan).

"It is important that anyone with an interest in the future development of Lough Derg and its shoreline attend the upcoming public meetings" - stated Mr. John Bradley, Senior Executive Planner, Clare County Council. "Lough Derg is one of Ireland's most valued tourism assets - but, it is also a vulnerable landscape, which is why it is imperative that it is the subject of an extensive development strategy.

"The study partners - in conjunction with the local community and interested parties - must ensure that an appropriate balance is established, with development in the most appropriate locations and the protection of vulnerable areas."

A Vulnerable Landscape Survey will feature as part of the strategy formulation process. The aim of the habitat survey of lands in the Clare and Galway County areas of Lough Derg is to determine the presence of features of archaeological, geological or cultural interest, habitats and species.

Among the sources of information referenced during the course of the survey will be the Clare Landscape Character Assessment, data from the Shannon River Basin District, Local Biodiversity Area reports and EIS reports.

Meanwhile, a survey of marina and related water facilities at Lough Derg will also take place. The survey will take into account private individual moorings, public berthings, private group berthings and floating buoys around the lake. Presently, there are twelve public harbours located on Lough Derg at Killaloe, Mountshannon, Williamstown, Scariff, Tuamgraney (Clare), Garrykennedy, Ballina, Dromineer, Kilgarven, Terryglass (Tipperary), Rosmore and Portumna (Galway). There are also eight private harbours.

"All the indications are that demand for moorings will continue to increase on and around Lough Derg" - added Mr, Bradley. "This increased demand will lead to various problems - including illegal moorings, overuse of public harbour facilities and increased and overuse of existing private marina facilities.

"Therefore, it is incumbent on the planning authorities to quickly establish an effective long-term strategy that will address this anticipated increased demand."

It is anticipated that the study will be completed within three months.

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