Tuesday 16 December 2008

Island created as sea breaches sand dunes at Kerry blue flag beach

A NEW island has been created at one of Kerry’s blue flag beaches, after the sea breached sand dunes during the weekend.

Kerry County Council engineers were examining the scene and assessing the damage at Rossbeigh, yesterday.

About five acres of dunes near the end of the Rossbeigh Spit are now cut off and there are fears of further knock-on damage in the Castlemaine Harbour, Dooks and Cromane areas.

However, the council has little or no money to deal with the problem and there is also a shortage of government funds for coast protection nationally, a council meeting was told.

Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Cahill, a businessman in Rossbeigh, proposed an emergency motion calling for urgent action, at yesterday’s meeting. He said the damage at the popular beach occurred during a high tide, a gap of 1,100 feet had been opened up and he was seriously concerned about what was going to happen next.

“I had predicted several years ago the dunes were eventually going to be breached, but successive governments failed to do anything about the erosion problem. It’s absolutely alarming to see what has happened,” said Mr Cahill.

The damage was caused by a combination of high tides, erosion and global warming, he claimed.

“People now have justified concerns about what will happen in the greater Castlemaine Harbour area and low lying lands for which the Rossbeigh dunes have acted as a protection barrier,” he said. “If action isn’t taken, erosion will continue and the dunes will eventually be washed away completely.”

Mr Cahill also feared an old stone tower, called the Castlemaine Beacon, near the point of the spit will also be washed away this winter. The tower had already been undermined, he said.

Responsibility for coastal protection is due to pass from the Department of Agriculture and Food to the Office of Public Works (OPW), on January 1 next, and Mr Cahill is to contact the minister of state with the responsibility for the OPW, Martin Mansergh, on the issue.

He was supported by South Kerry Independent Alliance councillor Michael Gleeson who said the inevitable had happened in Rossbeigh. “There are very serious implications for tourism and the fishing and farming communities who will suffer because of this.”

Kerry County Council has, in recent years, spent €4 million on coast protection in the Inch area of the Dingle Peninsula, but last year only €3 million was available nationally to tackle coastal erosion, the meeting was told.

Council director of services Charlie O’Sullivan said any money put up by the council would have to be matched by funds from government departments.

“We will be looking at all possibilities and a full report will be provided,” he added.

Irish Examiner


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