Ross­beigh oys­ter farm protest

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - NEWS - By TADHG EVANS

CON­CERNED res­i­dents in a scenic coastal area of Kerry have planned a pub­lic protest over plans to de­velop a ma­jor oys­ter farm in the area.

The or­gan­is­ers of the protest say they have sig­nif­i­cant sup­port from house­hold­ers in Ross­beigh, Glen­beigh, and Dooks – ar­eas that they claim will be most af­fected if the plans are ap­proved.

The protest is planned for the Blue Flag Ross­beigh Beach this Sun­day where or­gan­is­ers will voice con­cerns over the po­ten­tial im­pact such a farm could have on their lo­cal­ity.

SaveThisBeach.com spokesper­son Mau­rice Mur­phy feels “an in­dus­trial scale” Pa­cific Oys­ter farm­ing de­vel­op­ment could have a neg­a­tive im­pact on scenery in an area that thrives on tourism.

The group claims that a fur­ther seven ap­pli­ca­tions are in the pipe­line in nearby wa­ters, a claim the Depart­ment has not yet re­sponded to since it was con­tacted by The Ker­ry­man this week.

Mr Mur­phy is also as­ton­ished that Min­is­ter for the Marine Michael Creed has said an En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact State­ment (EIS) is not re­quired for the ap­pli­ca­tion – which is lo­cated within a Spe­cial Area of Con­ser­va­tion, a Spe­cial Pro­tec­tion Area and a Ram­sar site – and he feels the ap­pli­ca­tion process is weighted heav­ily against ap­peals.

“This ex­cep­tion­ally scenic area is lo­cated within a Spe­cial Area of Con­ser­va­tion ad­ja­cent to the Wild At­lantic Way, the Ring of Kerry and the pro­posed Green­way track from Glen­beigh to Valen­tia. It’s a ma­jor habi­tat for na­tive and mi­gra­tory birds and [is a] hugely pop­u­lar recre­ational area en­joyed daily by lo­cals and vis­i­tors,” he said.

“A map was pub­lished last week on the Depart­ment [of Agri­cul­ture, Food, and the Marine] web­site as part of an ap­pli­ca­tion. We be­lieve this map out­lines the scale of the pro­posed up­com­ing seven ap­pli­ca­tions that were con­firmed by DAFM. We es­ti­mate this area to be 400 acres or more,” he claimed.

“It is not re­ally a con­sul­ta­tion,” he claimed of the con­sul­ta­tion process for ap­pli­ca­tions. “It oc­curs af­ter the Min­is­ter has al­ready ap­proved the ap­pli­ca­tion... in ad­di­tion to pro­hib­i­tive costs to ap­peal, there is a very strict dead­line to ad­here to: a mere four weeks.

This hardly leaves time for com­mu­ni­ties, groups, or­gan­i­sa­tions, or in­di­vid­u­als to put to­gether doc­u­ments to sub­stan­ti­ate their ap­peal, es­pe­cially when sci­en­tific ev­i­dence is re­quired,” he said, ad­ding that the pub­lic has un­til Fe­bru­ary 28 to ob­ject to this ap­pli­ca­tion.

The protest and fundrais­ing walk is sched­uled for 2pm from the park­ing at Ross­point Inn and is open to all in­ter­ested par­ties.

The Ker­ry­man had re­ceived no re­sponse from the Depart­ment at time of print.

Min­is­ter Creed said the 2.75 hectare site is not likely to have sig­nif­i­cant ef­fects on the en­vi­ron­ment and added that the de­ci­sion not to re­quire an EIA gave re­gard to Euro­pean Com­mis­sion doc­u­ments. He also said the pro­posal would have lit­tle visual im­pact and would have no sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on recre­ational use.

The li­cense ap­pli­ca­tion states that the oper­a­tion will pro­vide two part-time jobs. If suc­cess­ful, the Kerry-based ap­pli­cants, who have more than 20 years’ aqua­cul­ture ex­pe­ri­ence in the Castle­maine Har­bour area, will farm cras­sostrea gi­gas oys­ters us­ing bags and tres­tle, while also us­ing hatch­ery seed from France, Guernsey, the UK, and Ire­land. By its fifth year it is pro­jected to pro­duce 25 tonnes. Oys­ter farm­ers in Castle­maine Har­bour have pre­vi­ously be­moaned de­lays in the ap­pli­ca­tion process, say­ing they have put many jobs on hold.

Coun­cil­lor Michael Cahill has called on the ap­pli­cants to re­con­sider their pro­posed lo­ca­tion, ad­ding that the pro­posal had caused great con­cern amongst res­i­dents, lo­cal busi­nesses, hol­i­day home own­ers and tourists.

The Fianna Fáil Coun­cil­lor also sug­gested there are more ap­pro­pri­ate sites avail­able than the Glen­beigh area.

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