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Photograph by John Kelly

Waterways Ireland plan new Lough Derg mooring points

THREE new ‘tranquillity moorings’ are being proposed for sites along Lough Derg’s Clare shoreline.

Waterways Ireland has lodged applications with Clare County Council to build the moorings at Castle Bawn Bay, Ogonnelloe; at the mouth of the Scariff River; and on another site North West of Inis Cealtra, close to Knockaphort Jetty, around 130m from the lakeshore.

Consultants who worked on the application noted that the lake is currently used for recreational boating, mainly during the summer months. “Casual boat mooring occurs within quieter inlets outside of the existing navigational markers, with boats dropping anchor near parts of the shoreline,” they note. “The proposed development aims to formalise mooring facilities in these areas, but discourage more casual mooring closer to the lake shore.”

If granted permission, the development off Knockaphort Jetty would involve a new floating mooring buoy anchored by a concrete weight, sitting on the lake bed connected by a galvanised steel chain. That proposed mooring would only be able to accommodate one boat at a time.

At Castle Bawn Bay and the mouth of the Scariff River, the proposed moorings would be made up of tubular steel piles driven into the lake bed, with 9m floating jetties rotating around them. The surface area of the proposed floating jetties, in each case, is 27 square metres.

Detailed Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and Natura Impact Assessments (NIA) have been submitted with each application. Consultations have already been undertaken with Inland Fisheries Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Birdwatch Ireland and the mooring are not intended to offer boaters access from the water onto adjacent land or lakeshore itself.

The EIS documents note that all new infrastructure would be carried out with the assistance of the Waterways Ireland workboat ‘Coill an Eo’. Construction would be entirely water-based “with no requirement to reduce or interfere with water levels of the lake”.

The consultants also noted that, during construction, every precaution will be taken to prevent the spread of invasive species such as “Asian Clam, Zebra Mussel and Crayfish plague”.

With regard to any potential impact on flora and fauna of Lough Derg, the EIS notes that a nest of White-tailed Eagles is located on Cribby Island near Mountshannon and another on Church Island near Portumna. Cribby Island is closest to the proposed mooring, but still 2.5km away from the nearest proposed mooring off Knockaphort Jetty.

As regards any disturbance to wildlife during construction, the EIS states that while the works will lead to an increase in noise and activity, they are “small-scale” and “short-term in nature” and will be completed within a day.

The application documents states that the moorings have been proposed with reference to the Inis Cealtra Vistior Management and Sustainable Tourism Development Plan, the Lough Derg Blueway and the Lough Derg Canoe Trail.

Submissions on each of the applications are being accepted up to January 30, and a decision from Clare County Council is possible by February 2.

Waterways Ireland is responsible for the management, development and restoration of Ireland’s navigable waterway systems, north and south, principally for recreational purposes.

The water-based areas of the sites in questions are in the ownership of, and maintained by, Waterways Ireland.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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