Archive for the 'Ecology' Category

The Transition of the Ashford Weir to Ashford Waterscape!

December 11th, 2017 -- Posted in Active, Administration, Ecology, Fish, Politics | No Comments »

Wonderful news!  The River Vartry Protection Society has been accepted for a project from the National Strategy for Angling Development Fund.  The Ashford Weir has been in a lack of repair since January 2016 and with no champion to look after it.  We all know that the fish are better off without the Weir but it has left an ugly scar on the River Vartry.

Without action and without any future because of the size of the project, we decided to have a practical plan to divide the project into two parts.  The first part is to get the Wicklow County Council to fund removal of the existing concrete and to level and grade the river base according to a Design and Implementation Plan made by the Inland Fisheries Ireland.  The work will be undertaken by the WCC but YOU NEED TO CONTACT YOUR LOCAL COUNCILLOR TO GET THE MONEY FROM THE 2018 BUDGET! Wicklow County Council are agreeable to do the work, IFI are agreeable to advise and only we need to “press” our Local Representives to get Phase 1 complete.

The grant is for Phase 2, which will be an Architectural Contest to design an Ashford Waterscape that will eventually be voted for by the public and be constructed here at the Ashford Bridge.  At the same time we will remove Japanese Knotweed, trim the overhanging branches and generally clean up the area where the Weir once stood.  This is to enhance the habitat of the Salmon and angling potential of the River Vartry.

We are so pleased for this opportunity given by the National Strategy for Angling Development Fund 2017 to the River Vartry.

Irish Water provides River Vartry Dam Survey

July 18th, 2017 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, History, Irish Water, Threats | No Comments »

Irish Water kindly provided us with the River Vartry Dam Survey conducted the 2nd of October 2013 which is the basis for some of the remedial work planned in the new Water Treatment Plant.  We would like to give credit where credit is due and appreciate what Ned Fleming does for all of us by his diligence in protecting and keeping the Dam safe.  The report in general reflects this care and gives a good bill of health for a Dam that is mud and clay, constructed in 1865.  As a Category A Dam (where a breach could endanger lives in the community), the small suggestions are mostly part of the WTP’s normal maintenance program and the more long term remedies are part of the plan and urgency needed for the new WTP.

We are still concerned over the process to re-grade the Slipway and that it will not put any stress on the Dam.  We would prefer that there was an EIA and some public supervision over this critical phase of the new development as we are all located below it.  As well, we need to see that the rock removal does not put ANY mud, silt or other discharge into the river itself.

Thank you again for providing this document as this is the kind of cooperation we hope for in the future so that we can all enjoy the benefits of the River Vartry, both for it’s natural environment and it’s benefit to Dublin as a water resource.

River Vartry vs Irish Water Oral Hearing Complete

June 15th, 2017 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, Fish, History, Irish Water, Politics, River Basin Management, Threats, Water Directive | No Comments »

The Oral Hearing is now complete and we would like to update everyone on the process and the sense of it as there are no results or conclusion that can be drown until a decision is made by An Bord Pleanála. There are some thing promised to look at that might give you a “better picture” of it. First have a look at the film Film – Save the River Vartry.

We are very satisfied with our performance over the three days, with little that we could improved upon. Alan Doyle, or solicitor gave an iron-clad argument for the absolute Legal Requirement for an EIA that was not required by the WCC. The lawyer for Irish Water did not even attempt to place counter arguments but just responded in a few words of “well I won’t waste the Inspectors and everyone’s time, that is what Mr. Doyle thinks, it is just not so.” Did he suspect, know, presume that the Inspector would never delay the building of the new Water Treatment Works by sending it back to Wicklow County Council for an EIA and a new planning process. He is probably right, as I too felt the decision was already made. The Oral Hearing might only be for our benefit to feel heard.

They may accommodate some of our concerns with further Conditions as the Inspector asked for a full list and Irish Water agreed to most of the conditions but… The Inspector is not obligated to place all our conditions to the Bord, nor is An Bord Pleanála required to listen to what the Inspector recommends. They very often these days, go against the Inspectors.

Before going into details, I have to say that EVERYONE behaved very kindly and friendly with little or almost no Adversarial Behaviour. There was a bit of it when Irish Water were trying destroy Inland Fisheries Ireland director Brian Beckett. It probably should have been stopped, and I was intending to point it out later, the impoliteness of it all, but people were too tired after three days. Even Irish Water’s Barrister had absorbed that this was a friendly atmosphere and that kind of cross-examination vs discussion was for the courts. Brian is one of the most knowledgeable persons of great integrity, and of absolute devotion to the Fish and the Rivers. We should all appreciate how fortunate we are to have him and his team looking after our Rivers.

Here is an interview with East Coast FM that gives some of the details I shared

There are several subject Headings for those who would like some detail.

EIA Case

The process of the Oral Hearing was flawed by the fact that at the hearing Irish Water gave us new material that was never part of the Planning Process and should have been. At 17:30 on Monday in 5 minutes, I found out what putting the discharge into the “head of the works” (which is all that was said in granting planning permission) really meant in a verbal explanation. I needed then to study up until 3:00 am to return at 9:00 am and produce my counter argument. This information will not reach the public and will never be seen by you and others who deserve to see this in proper sustainable planning. This was only one of the many new things like the methid how Irish Water are going to give us the limited 5ML/day “Compensatory Flow”. Something so fundamental should be part of the planning process and available for 6 weeks for you to comment on.
This objection that we made at the Oral Hearing was noted. Even such bad practice on behalf of the Planning Office and Irish Water, will not send this back to WCC.
The legal case for and EIA is sound and unshakeable. If someone is interested, write a comment and we will send it to you. That too is likely to be ignored.

Irish Water says 5ML/day was good since 1865 and the river was good, so we are going back to that!

This was picked arbitrarily and then on Monday backed up with Science done to prove that the arbitrary figure is correct. All of the data we have on flows is from 1950-1978 or mid-last century! There are “spot flows” taken a few days without having rain data or the raw data supplied. Any flow is nonsense without know if it rained two days before because the river can swell 5-7 inches from two nights of moderate rain. To illustrate the nonsense of this, I presented the picture of the place where the flow data was collected 70 years ago.

The little shed is now 3 meters away horizontally and 3 meters vertically from water. What is more evident is that Irish Water’s claim all is the same as it was for the last 150 years. Can you imagine what that gorge looked like in 1950 for water coming up to the red arrow on the picture above.

But unfortunately I think our argument for more water fell on deaf ears and will not be taken up. What we know absolutely is that the 5ML/day is 1/4 of what we are getting now, being leaks or not.

Fish Stocks

Brian Beckett and the IFI made the point that at Ashford and Newrath the fish quality went from GODD to HIGH in the last 2 years, parallel to us having more water. Irish Water wanted to destroy this argument completely, therefore the attack on him. Their attack was three pronged. First they said the increase was based on the decommission of the Ashford Treatment Work. We countered with the fact that surely it had some bearing but not of the increase in Ashford since that is above where the treatment works is! The second attack was that the EPA lists the status to GOOD still. IFI explained that this was in discussion, they had not updated their numbers and that they take the lowest value overall. The third point was that the status was GOOD before 2007 when the leaks started. IFI explained that the WFD only started then and there were not the statuses at that time. They were pressured to say that probably the status if compared would perhaps be equivalent to GOOD and Irish Water took that as a confirmation that the status has not changed, against our national experts on Fish.

I promised to put up the photos and video of the spawn. The fish are so resilient that in early November when we had two weeks light rain, there was enough water and the Salmon at sea knew that it would be the only opportunity and rushed up river for the spawn. Here is a video taken of just that and two more of the care and kindness of the Vartry Conservation and Angler’s Club shown to the fish as they only take sea trout on a catch and release program.

River Vartry Oral Hearing Monday 12th June

June 10th, 2017 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, Fish, Irish Water, Politics, River Basin Management, Threats, Water Directive | 3 Comments »

The day has almost arrived and we hope all of you will be there to help support our final drive to get Irish Water to do right by the Environment.

Here is a short video that we produced for this occasion. Save the River Vartry

We start at 11:00 on the 12th of June 2017 at the Glenview Hotel, Glen of the Downs. 13th and 14th start at 9:30

It is a David vs Goliath, River Vartry Protection Society vs Irish Water kind of event. We have great stones in our little pouch that can kill a giant, but it depends on skills on the day. Are we scared? Sure! When you face an ugly giant like Irish Water, you have reason to be afraid, but sometime right wins over wrong.

They spent hundreds of thousands of euro to hire the best consultants and lawyers to defend against us, but had they used this money to educate people about saving water instead, they would have the water they refuse the River Vartry.

Oral Hearing on River Vartry against Irish Water

May 28th, 2017 -- Posted in Active, Administration, Ecology, Fish, Irish Water, Politics, Threats | No Comments »

We have the Oral Hearing on June 12th, 13th and 14th at the Glenview Hotel, Glen of the Downs (if it takes the full 3 days).

This is very important that we have support on the days to see Irish Water do right by the River Vartry.

We know people work and for many it will be hard to take time off, but even if you can only drop in one of the days, it would be some support. We will be there from 11:00 to 17:00 on the 12th, 9:30 – 17:00 on the 13th and 14th.

We are as prepared as we can be and are very hopeful that An Bord Pleanála will see it our way and send Irish Water back to Wicklow County Council for a full independent EIA. We have a few surprises for them, so don’t miss it.

We want to see the NEW, (not UPGRADED as Irish Water prefer to call it), Water Treatment Plant is built, but want proper care taken of the environment, the river and the salmon. We hope to screen a short film of the River, never before seen, of huge salmon in vast numbers coming up the river for the spawn. It show how important our Mighty Little River Vartry is to the EU, Ireland and ourselves and the importance for us to build a State of the Art WTP showing that in Ireland we take care of our environment, not destroy it.

We hope to see you there.

An Bord Pleanála Grants Oral Hearing

April 7th, 2017 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, Fish, History, Irish Water, Politics, River Basin Management, Threats, Wildlife | No Comments »

We have been allowed to present our case in an Oral Hearing. The time and place has not yet been decided but we will post it as soon as we have it. This was granted because of the significant national or local interest. Everyone is invited although space can be limited. We ask you to be present on the day as this illustrates your commitment to the Protection of the River Vartry. Our small river is a “Champion” and shows its diversity in surviving and thriving against strong adversity. We will hopefully be allowed to show some “Never before seen” footage of the river in Spawn this year. We have been careful about showing this, because we feared Irish Water would turn this against us and say, see the River thrives.

Now it is the time to show that nature is miraculous and gives us ample time to correct our ways. Where we would have floods, we had drought this year and have even now though the whole winter still have the same dangerously low water condition. Yet in the only two weeks when the water rose 6-8 inches, the Salmon knew and were waiting even thought it was very early for the Spawn. They knew it would be there only opportunity and we have even had Salmon experts say “You must be mistaken, that is not possible”. Well, I won’t spoil it for you. Come to the meeting and see for yourself. Our beautiful, historic, brave little river still survives. It shouldn’t have to fight and 100 years from now, people will come and marvel at the River that defied all odds.

An Bord Pleanála Will They Dare To Go Against Irish Water

December 17th, 2016 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, Fish, Irish Water, Politics, Polution, River Basin Management, Threats, Water Directive, Wildlife | No Comments »

With our Appeal going in on Monday to An Bord Pleanála, we have made the best effort possible to save the River Vartry on behalf of all of you who could see that this was the big battle.

Until our Appeal is accepted and we have the file number from An Bord Pleanála, we cannot publish our Appeal but we can give you a few snippets, should you be in any doubt of why we are fighting. In order to make a determination of Environmental Impacts, Wicklow County Council needed to apply “Best Science Available Principle” and for this they asked Jonathan Sexton Executive Scientist – Water and Environment who works for the Wicklow County Council.

Jonathan Sexton produced his first report on 06/11/2016 which was excepted by Tom Griffin, Senior Executive Chemist with minor changes. However unexplainably, a major revision appeared on the 11/11/2016. The major difference was that in the recommendations an important paragraph disappeared. It said “The Applicant shall maintain the current flow regime of leaking water until such time that flow measurements and modelling have been undertaken to establish a suitable environmental flow regime that takes standards into account. The current flow regime shall use flows of water from the Vartry Reservoir to match current leakage flows from the leakage channel from the filter beds and current leakage flows from the overflow weir from the Reservoir.”

We can only applaud Jonathan Sexton for his sound and well founded suggested condition on the planning. We of course, suggested this approach but he recognised that this was the approach to be taken. Unfortunately “someone” did not agree and put pressure on him to remove this because on the version of the 11/11/2016 it was removed. What was added was the statement of Jonathan Sexton “Considering the importance of the proposal in providing secure drinking water supply to a large region, I recommend…”. Clearly he was not fully in agreement with this decision and but complied to the pressure placed upon him. Below is the full text of his recommendation.

Had this been the only issue with this report, it might pass the scrutiny of An Bord Pleanála as without proof that undo influence was placed by Wicklow County Council on an Independent Science Report. However… If you look below you will see that in the public record is a Science Report that has been altered by an Unknown Hand after being published by Jonathan Sexton. This is sloppy and an unacceptable action by a Planning Authority and we claim makes the whole process in doubt. Were it to happen to you or me on planning for our new house, someone would scream. We are screaming that the Planning Permission is Null and Voided by the hacked Science Report and Wicklow County Council cannot be trusted to perform an unbiased Planning Process on this file.

When you look whom has been crossed out by the Unknown Hand, it is Inland Fisheries Ireland and ourselves the Local Stakeholders. Is it not surprising that these are the parties that have strongly opposed what is happening and have questioned the wisdom of the Wicklow County Council going ahead without a proper Independent Environmental Impact Assessment. This illustrates their bias against anyone who opposes themselves and Irish Water. This is not a transparent or adequate process.

Read it for yourself and raise this issue as loud and vocal as you can. We need to prove to An Bord Pleanála that it is not just us, but all of the public that want this decision reversed and sent back for proper analysis. Only this will insure the survival of the River Vartry.

Wicklow County Council Only Hope to Stop Irish Water Distruction of the River Vartry

November 9th, 2016 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, Fish, Irish Water, Politics, River Basin Management, Threats, Water Directive, Wildlife | No Comments »

Irish Water have decided to go to a hardline approach and are pulling the TRUMP (no pun intended) card. “People before Fish” and saying “The storage at the Vartry has a limit and if additional water is provided in compensatory flows, it will have an impact on Irish Water’s ability to provide sustainable drinking water supply for the region.” The propose to give 1/3 of the current amount of water that is currently coming from the Roundwood Treatment Works. This is will amount to the death of the River Vartry.

If you are in any doubt about our claim, here are some pictures of the state of the river as it is now in early November. Try to imagine 1/3 of this amount of water over the Weir.

weir

Here is the width of the river going towards Ashford. The stones should not be visible.

upriver


If you want to make your voice heard, you can support our Objection by writing to the Wicklow Planning Office, Wicklow County Council, Wicklow Town. Place at the top “In support of River Vartry Protection Society’s Submission on 16363”. Tell them directly what you think.

We have put in our response to Irish Water in the Wicklow County Council under file 16363. You can go to www.eplanning.ie/WicklowCC/SearchExact and type in the file number and then see the submissions under “view scanned files”. The important ones are F.I. Clarification Letter and F.I. Received Doc. which are the Clarification asked by the Wicklow County Council and IWs response. Our response will be up there soon. I have uploaded our response which you can read the full story, if you wish here. FIClarification

We can see that Irish Water have no concern for the Environment and have no intention of preserving the status-quo of the river. It is soon going to be time for a bigger and wider campaign if we are to save the River Vartry from their grasp. We will be doing some “crowd sourcing” for funding in the event we are going to have greater need for experts and legal cost, but for the moment we are following the path and waiting for Wicklow County Council to make a decision by the end of the month on this planning.

Roundwood Treatment Works Upgrade and Irish Water

September 2nd, 2016 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, Fish, Irish Water, Politics, Polution, River Basin Management, Water Directive | No Comments »

Irish Water, the River Vartry Protection Society and the Vartry Conservation and Angling Club have been meeting to discuss what can be done for the benefit of everyone. Irish Water would like to solve the issues before answering their Further Information Request by the Wicklow County Council. From our standpoint, as Riparian Owners, there are two issue; Pollution, and Abstraction.

We have insisted on an EIA after the decision by our last meeting that this is mandatory requirement in our eyes. The issue however is really simpler. If we could be 100% assured that the quality of the water immediately down stream of the works was perfect at all times and could allow us to reach High status water quality, then an EIA would not really be necessary. Irish Water are working towards this and have be innovative in their approach but we will need some scientific proofs and ways to insure that this is working and continues to produce these results, over drought and all year, every year. Failsafe equipment and monitoring would be required to prevent any disasters but again Irish Water are willing to work with us and the IFI toward this.

The subject of Abstraction is ongoing and will need some more time. We do not have the data required to assess what the flow should be in the river in order to always have sufficient water over the beds and in time of the Spawn to have sufficient water that the fish feel comfortable and will be safe to spawn. We will be urgently working with the IFI to try and determine this but we will not have years to develop this data (as we should have had). We understand the urgency felt by Irish Water and will have to work towards an accelerated schedule but sufficient to assure good results. This negotiation is ongoing and will be need cooperation from both sides, but we are hopeful that there is a good understanding between. In the end the River Vartry will have the protection it needs to be a model salmonoid river and example of cooperation between the pressures on Water Resources.

PPN Hosts LAWCO and LEADER Program meeting

July 18th, 2016 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, Fish, River Basin Management, Water Directive | No Comments »

On Saturday the 16th in the Ashford Community and Heritage Centre we had a meeting with the new body LAWCO and the County Wicklow Partnership. LAWCO is an acronym for Local Area Water Communities Office, nothing to do with LAW. Ray Spain of LAWCO, This new group is a connection group between groups like ourselves and the EPA and the Department of Environment (which is having an Identity Crisis of it’s own as to what to call it!). It’s purpose is to get Local Knowledge “up the chain” so that water decisions are based on sound knowledge and real facts from the people who know it best. We have great hopes for this new entity and already they have show how important they are.
Alison Keogh of the County Wicklow Partnership explained various funding available for Environmental Groups and we have started thinking of applying for a grant through the Ashford Development Association Ltd. We may be able to find funding for the lingering project of replacing the Weir at Ashford with some attractive and fish friendly alternative. As well we would try to incorporate several other issues down at that point of the river, which is the spread of Japanese Knotweed (visible from the bridge) and the overgrowing of the river by the trees, blocking light essential for the fish.
We will keep you up to date on the progress of this Application.

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