Archive for the 'Politics' Category

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.

Latest News: Fight to Save the River Vartry from Irish Water

December 11th, 2016 -- Posted in Active, Fish, Irish Water, Politics, Polution, River Basin Management, Threats, Water Directive, Wildlife | No Comments »

We had a very successful meeting on Friday the 9th of December and were joined in the Ashford Community Centre by 84 people with apologies from another 27 that could not make it. Everyone was actively supporting and we raised €2200 to help with our expenses for the fight at An Bord Pleanála. The approach was agreed and we are meeting with the Barrister to produce the final Appeal and request for an Oral Hearing. The total campaign has raised €3450 euro which has been used for the Barrister and two Ecology consultants in preparing the Appeal.
We had the privilege of having 3 Councillors from Wicklow, Jennifer Whitmore, John Snell, and Steven Matthews who’s clarity and contribution was very much appreciated. They too were very concerned about the performance of the Wicklow County Council in granting permission to Irish Water at this time without an Independent Environmental Impact Assessment.
We reiterated that we feel that the Treatment Works needs upgrading but that this can be done without damage to the River Vartry. This is where we differ with Irish Water. To get to this position it requires the technical knowledge and the study of the river and what changes it can absorb and tolerate. This process was not done and the Wicklow County Council granted permission prematurely before anything was completed. This leaves the River in an unprotect position within Irish Water’s control without conditions.
We will be finalising our Appeal with the Barrister this week and asking for an Oral Hearing. One of the grounds for this is of great national, regional or local concern. For this we need your help. Make your voice heard. Contact me Matthew at Rivervartry.com or go to our Crowd Funding page, https://chuffed.org/project/save-the-river-vartry-from-irish-water. Share this via facebook or twitter and the word will get out.
Thanks to everyone for your support.

Disaster – Wicklow County Council Grants Planning Permission to Irish Water

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

The latest news is a disaster. Wicklow County Council has shown their lack of concern for the River Vartry and in a foolish moment, decided to grant Irish Water permission. This could be considered shrewd, as they were aware that we would take this to An Bord Pleanála and this way they do not incur the wrath of the Government by doing something against them.

What is surprising is the total lack of concern for the environment by Wicklow County Council, the Government, Irish Water, the EPA and the media. I see articles in the news all about the wonderful plans to spend €250,000,000 on water infrastructure but not a mention of how this might affect the Environment. Irish Fisheries did put in a strong observation in the planning stage but have become uncomfortably silent.

The decision from WCC has only one Condition on Irish Water (other than boilerplate ones, archaeology etc) and that is
“The applicant shall maintain minimum daily compensatory flows of at least 5 Million litres per day in the Vartry River, in accordance with the details submitted on the 3rd of November 2016”. This will enforce on the River 1/3 of the current flow of 15ML per day. As well there is no enforced specification of what this water is. The Treatment Works has a poisonous discharge that can not be dumped in the river, but there is nothing in this condition to say that the 5ML is clean water. The file does contain an unworkable solution for dealing with the discharge of pumping it back over the dam into the reserviour. This we objected to on the basis that it would pollute the top of the reserviour eventually causing the water going to Dublin to be compromised. This solution was never meant to be followed and eventually the discharge will be dumped directly into the River, after it is destroyed from lack of water. This is part of our Appeal to ABP.

Reducing the flow in the river to 1/3 its present state can only be seen in a picture from the top of the Vartry by the reserviour. This is how the whole River will look if this decision is not fought.

IMG_6504

To put things into perspective, with a flow of 15ML per day in the end of November 2016 the river above the Weir in Ashford looks like this. This is spawning time and the fish have to pass through this narrow channel.

IMG_6486

Imagine now this scene with 1/3 of this water and the fish growing tiny legs to walk up the river. Although I joke to get you to imagine, it is not a joke. This is the true reality behind what is being done by the Government, WCC and Irish Water under the watchful eye of the EPA, Irish Fisheries and other that have not seen the truth. This is an EU protected river and even so, it is being treated like this. We do not what to wait for the “woops, sorry”.

I call this, “Government By Intimidation”. Nothing seems to happen without intimidation. The Government intimidates the County Council “We need housing! Build more houses where they shouldn’t be!”, “Don’t oppose Irish Water!”. The only way forward for ourselves is to use the same tactics and Intimidate the Government by pressing the media and asking all of you to join in our campaign to reach An Bord Pleanála, in force, with many people behind us.

Can you please join our campaign and donate to our Crowd Funding project? We now have to pay a Barrister and several Hydrologist and Hydrogeologist to help us make sure we win at ABP. As well we need a “War Chest” for future fights in the High Court and perhaps the Supreme Court, if necessary.
Help us Fight Irish Water to Save the River Vartry

Thanks for your support and joining us in this fight.

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.

Irish Water decides not to Negotiate to save the River Vartry

October 22nd, 2016 -- Posted in Active, Fish, Irish Water, Politics, River Basin Management, Threats, Wildlife | No Comments »

We were in negotiation with Irish Water but they decided to suspend negotiations and have a try first if they could get a decision from the Wicklow County Council. They turned in an answer to the Further Information Request with the original abstraction figures of 5ML per day against the currently released 15 ML per day. This would give the River Vartry 1/3 the amount of water in dry weather than we currently have. Anyone seeing the level of the river at the moment, would realise that there will be no fish left after this. With the fish gone, the otters are gone, the badgers are gone, the deer are gone, the herons are gone, the bats are gone, the whole ecosystem is gone, eventually destroying the Murrough. This is not imagination or scare mongering, but will be the reality if this is not fought through the planning system and the courts. Everything on the Vartry System is connected. When the microorganisms are harmed, the invertebrate and small organisms that the fish feed on, disappear. A cascading effect on all of the wildlife results.

According to the data given to us by Irish Water, the River has had 15 ML per day released all year round since 2007. We pointed out that since 2007 the status of the fish as measured by the Irish Fisheries has gone from poor to high quality, as it is now. The fish have adapted to the current regime and are thriving. It is not great when the water is so bad as it is now, but we believe even stressed by lack of oxygen, the fish will survive. Take away 2/3 of the water and they will not! Irish Water points out that these are leaks since 2007 and they do not intend release this need to fix it. We say, we do not want this reduced and they do not have the right to destroy the river.

The Wicklow County Council have again asked for Further Information Clarification on this from Irish Water, supporting our claims. Irish Fisheries and An Taisce have come down strongly against Irish Water’s submission as well. We know however that one should not get too enthusiast about this. We have seen in the past that the Planners often just ask and then regardless of the response, grant permission. If that is the case, we will be in An Bord Pleanala arguing our case for the survival of the River Vartry.

We would like to hear from you and make your voice heard. Join us and add your comment.

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.

River Basin Management Plan Submission

July 21st, 2015 -- Posted in Active, Politics, River Basin Management | No Comments »

We have responded to the Minister Kelly’s Public Consultation Document and the full text is below.

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Firstly we would like to introduce ourselves and complement you on a superb document which has already created an excellent platform for cooperation. We hope we can offer something useful to you.

We are the River Vartry Protection Society and are formed and constituted based on a common thread running through our lives, the River Vartry. This is the River Basin we are particularly concerned with and knowledgeable about. We are comprised of all the Riparian Owners along the river and neighbours that surround the river. The vision was that if all these people dedicate themselves to protecting the river, and with our children, lock hands and keep all potential dangers away from the river, it will remain healthy and a natural habitat for the generations to come.

We have the knowledge, have researched the history of the River Vartry, and can act as an active resource for this River Basin. We feel that as a EU protected Salmonoid River, it is important that this resource is un-disturbed. We are active in opposing any planning or development within the Vartry River Basin that could damage the River.

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River Basin Management Plan

July 9th, 2015 -- Posted in Active, Politics, Polution, River Basin Management, Water Directive | No Comments »

The most important document for protection of the River Vartry is the EU regulated River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) which 4 years ago, we contributed to.  We were pleased with the result as the River Vartry was going to be declared “Heavily Modified”, due to the Reservoir.  Because of intervention of the Fisheries this was changed to the Upper and Lower Vartry.  The Lower being natural and unmodified, while the Upper was heavily modified.

Without the help of the Fisheries, it would have been the death of the river.  The plan had a requirement for defining Compensatory Flows for the river by 2015 but there were four responsible bodies, Wicklow County Council, EPA, Fisheries, and the Dublin Corp.  At the time we realised that this was an important decision but would be hard to force to implement as there were four bodies responsible and it would likely fall between the chairs.  Time proved us right.

It is not often that I get an opportunity to praise to the Government but Minister Alan Kelly for the Environment has done a superb job at preparing a Public Consultation Document to get public input prior to the Draft of the RBMP.  To understand just how much he wishes to do a good job, I quote from the introduction, “There is general acceptance that the governance arrangements put in place to deliver the first cycle of river basin management plans did not work well. Arrangements were overly-complex and responsibilities were poorly defined with no single body having overall responsibility for developing the plans and overseeing delivery of the programmes of measures.”  We have great hopes that this second cycle for the RBMP will be much more successful and address some of these weaknesses of the past.
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RiverVartry Protection Society Thanks An Bord Pleanála

April 26th, 2010 -- Posted in Active, Politics, Threats | No Comments »

Often we remember to complain when things go wrong but don’t bother to compliment when things go right. We would like to thank An Bord Pleanála for their decision on the Ryan Development PL27.235089 in Clora, Ashford. This appeal by the contractor was against the Wicklow County Council who refused permission to this development on the basis of it being premature even though it was part of the Local Area plan. There were objectors (including ourselves) that joined the Wicklow co.co. but had additional objections on the basis that the surface water was being routed directly to the River Vartry above the Salmon Beds and to do this the developer had proposed to drill into the protected structure of the Nun’s Cross Bridge. It is clear from the decision that An Bord Pleanála read carefully and with a keen eye, every submission and every detail, rather than simply supporting the Wicklow County Council and rejecting the appeal. The thoroughness that they exhibited in rejecting means a lot to us and to the neighbors in the area. We think you are doing a great job truly acting as a means for people to have a say in what goes on around them. Your fine work is appreciated.

Reply From Pat Kavanagh

June 14th, 2009 -- Posted in Active, Politics | No Comments »

Thank you for your support. It is a shame alright. However, it’s far more important that groups of dedicated people continue to work together in a cohesive manner to ensure that our environment and natural resources are protected. In the words of Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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