Parks and Wildlife order sand dune works to stop
THE Department of the Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is continuing to investigate the removal of sand from dunes in Castlegregory, a spokesperson told The Kerryman last week.
Diggers and tractors were seen removing a large quantity of sand south of Castlegregory beach and the Maharees tombolo. The sand dunes affected by the operation are part of the Tralee Bay and Maharees Peninsula West to Cloghane Special Area of Conservation.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service moved to stop the works when it came to their attention.
A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht outlined the law protecting special areas of conservation and protection:
“Under the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011, it is an offence for a person, without lawful authority, to carry out an activity that may have a significant effect on, or adversely affect, the integrity of a European site (Special Area of Conservation or Special Protection Area).
“Under the 2011 Regulations, a person who commits such an offence is liable (i) on summary conviction, to the imposition of a Class A fine or imprisonment of up to six months or both and (ii) on conviction on indictment, to the imposition of a fine of up to €500,000 or imprisonment of up to three years or both,” they said.
They explained that, “the sand dunes at Castlegregory Beach form part of the Special Area of Conservation ‘Tralee Bay and Magharees Peninsula, West to Cloghane”.
“On November 3 last, the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht had ordered that work involving the removal of sand from this Special Area of Conservation be stopped. The matter continues to be investigated by the Department in conjunction with other relevant State agencies,” they added.
Kerry County Council also responded to the sand-removal operation - dispatching staff to the site to ‘assess’ the situation.
In a statement released to The Kerryman on Thursday, November 2, a spokesperson said: “We received complaints over the weekend. We have sent staff to the area to assess the situation... the OPW has also sent staff to assess the situation. KCC are currently in contact with the OPW to establish the area of responsibility,” they said.
A member of the Maharees Conservation Group declined to comment on the matter to The Kerryman.
The sand dune operation near Castlegregory which was stopped by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.