Thursday 7 February 2008

Wexford Harbour plans cause 'uproar'

Opposition is growing to plans to designate Wexford Harbour as a Special Protection Area (SPA).

An Intention to Designate document for Wexford Harbour and Slobs was recently issued to a large number of landowners and it outlined a huge area for the proposed SPA, stretching to the bridge in Enniscorthy.

"The European Union's birds directive requires member states to protect birds at their breeding, feeding, roosting and wintering areas," said a spokesman for the Department of the Environment.

"It is on foot of the regulations that the Wexford Harbour and Slobs site was proposed for designation as it is considered to be a site of significant ornithological importance," he said.

The site is said to be one of the two most important in the world for Greenland white-fronted geese. It also has internationally important populations of mute swan, light-bellied Brent goose, bar-tailed godwit and black-tailed godwit.

According to the department, there are a large number of "operations likely to alter, damage, destroy or interfere with the integrity of the site", including harvesting marine species, leisure or sporting activities liable to cause disturbance to the birds, reclaiming land for agricultural purposes, the planting of trees and dredging, whether for fishing or other purposes.

Councillor Paddy Nolan said there is "uproar" over the plans among local people. "In the event that this goes ahead it will be the death knell of Wexford Harbour," he said. It would not only end fishing in the harbour, but possibly all swimming and boating activities. He said many farmers' use of their land will also be severely hampered.

A public meeting is to be held next Tuesday, three days before the deadline for objections.

The Irish Times

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