Economic weir impact study to be undertaken
Cork County Council is to carry out an economic impact study in an effort to persuade government departments of the value of replacing a collapsing weir on the Blackwater River.
Councillors believe if the weir in Fermoy is not restored, valuable tourism revenue — especially from coarse and game fishing — will be lost to the region.
Its current condition also continues to impact on water sports.
Assistant county manager James Fogarty said the council cannot afford to fund urgent repairs on its own and, unfortunately, to date appeals to government agencies for financial support “had fallen on deaf ears”.
Members of the council’s Northern Committee are concerned about the loss of tourist revenue from salmon fishing in the area and the impact the weir damage was having on the local rowing club.
Scores of people turned up at a public demonstration in the town, recently, demanding the structure is upgraded and fully restored before the risk increases of it being completely washed away.
Councillors are demanding a new fish pass be installed to help salmon get upriver to spawn.
Debris washed down the river during major floods in recent years has contributed to the damage.
Councillors held a special meeting to explore the best affordable option to restore the weir back to its former glory. Located in the town centre, the 200-year-old weir is a protected structure.
Officials are to ascertain the scope of the works required as well as the permissions needed from various bodies to to carry out such works, the procurement procedure to be followed and, most importantly, the funding required.
In the meantime, the council is seeking an urgent meeting with relevant agencies such as Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
Council officials are also seeking consultations with the Office of Public Works in order to establish the impact any proposed works on the weir may have on the town’s newly installed flood defence installations.
Mr Fogarty said the weir would have to be completely replaced and not just patched up. He said the council is anxious to seek financial support from other agencies to aid proposed works.
Cllr Frank O’Flynn said the town benefited significantly from fishing tourism and this could be lost if the weir wasn’t replaced. Councillors agreed to hold a special meeting in early July to discuss any likely progress.