Coast Diary – June 11th

You may have seen in the news this week that Fair Seas, a new coalition made up of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), the Irish Wildlife Trust, BirdWatch Ireland, Coastwatch, Coomhola Salmon Trust, Friends of the Irish Environment, SWAN and the Irish Environmental Network, have published a report calling for the protection of 30% of our coastal waters. Currently only 2% is protected. Theres a link to the report below but here is an image of the areas they are suggesting protecting.

As you can see, this is some good news for those who want to keep proposed windfarms 20km or more off the Waterford and East Cork coast where turbines have been proposed between 5-8km off shore. Though of course there are ways to work around protected areas. I have written elsewhere about the windfarms and intend to do some more research, primarily around how environmental impact is measured. The issues around Newtown Woods, which I have written about in the last weeks, have demonstrated how surveys are skewed. In the Newtown Woods case, the only areas surveyed were Natura 2000 sites, all between 3-30 miles away from the woods. In the windfarm’s case, most species may not be included in a survey because they are ‘migratory’ but show me a whale or dolphin or even a fish that’s not!

I do know change is inevitable and some development is desirable (imagine if it could be intelligent development!) but I find the disingenuouness – to put it mildly – that accompanies these changes really annoying. A part of me sometimes thinks I would be much happier if developers and councils and others (like the people near me who have just chopped down a load of trees in high nesting season) would just say “Look, we are going to kill all sorts of things and make everywhere look shit, get over it”. At least we would know where we stand.

But its not all bad. Waterford Council’s recent alignment with an All Ireland Pollinator Plan which allows certain roundabouts and verges to grow wild, is not only heartening but quite beautiful to behold. I have heard people give out about the council a lot and imply that destruction is only to be expected from them – I have succumbed to these thoughts too – but I don’t think that’s necessarily true and that mindset is not helpful. And as individuals I have always found them friendly and ready to help. For instance many council workers have helped me locate dolphin carcasses which I record for the IWDG.

Regarding Newtown Woods, I am still gathering information with the help of a number of people. I have been walking most days past the woods, where, at dusk I have tried playing long-eared owl calls in the hope of getting some replies. No joy yet. Might be too early for chicks. Anyway, next week I will publish as much information as I have for people to copy and paste into submissions they might like to make to the council regarding proposed road and lighting upgrades. For submissions contact Ian Ludlow, Staff Officer, Active Travel, Waterford City & County Council, Menapia Building, The Mall, Waterford or by emailing iludlow@waterfordcouncil.ie before 4p.m. on Tuesday 28th June, 2022.
Submissions should be clearly marked Submission Part 8 Newtown Hill in the subject line.

I also picked up a book from the library this week. Wild Woods by Richard Nairn is a celebration of Irish woodlands and also the story of how he bought and learned to manage his own piece of woodland in Wicklow. I haven’t started it yet but I am looking forward to reading it.

I have also been walking along the coast, to Kilfarrasy and Garrarus, but I have not been swimming. Partly because of an ongoing ear problem but it’s also because of the change that has occurred since the lockdown – the increase in traffic to the coast, the influx of drivers, walkers and swimmers hogging the roads and the bathing spots with little care for residents. Along with the Newtown Woods plans and the uptick in (ugly) house building it has made me quite despondent. I know I am lucky though because I am very far from being able to own property in this lovely area – or anywhere. But my place here is becoming incrementally more precarious and watching the change is like being trapped in a long drawn out goodbye. But, I’ll get over it. Worse things happen at sea…

Building materials storedat the edge of Newtown Woods

Links & References

https://fairseas.ie/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Revitalising_Our_Seas_Report_Marine_Protected_Areas_Fair_Seas.pdf

Coast Diary – March 5th

Very little coasting this week and lots of computery stuff and deadlines. I went for a walk on the main beach earlier in the week. I was hoping to be inspired for this week’s post but all I got was my ear infection rebooted. Well not entirely true. I also saw a dead, thick-lipped grey mullet being pecked at by seagulls, a part of a sea potato and some crushed crabs. The insides of their shells are always such pretty colours. Hardly a consolation to them I suppose. What good is a pretty house when you’re dead?

I had been expecting some dolphins or porpoises to wash up up after all the storms we’ve had but happily I hadn’t heard of any, or not in these parts at least. A young fin whale washed up in east Cork in an emaciated condition. Perhaps, after possibly being seperated from its mother? I heard of it first through an organisation who have recently started competing with the IWDG (Irish Whale & Dolphin Group) for the public’s ceteacean reports. It emerged a few years back that the IWDG’s research, which they were sharing online for free, was being sold on – I suppose to companies who do surveys for developers. The IWDG do consultation work themselves, it is part of how they fund themselves in their mission to campaign to make Irish territorial waters a whale and dolphin sanctuary.

The IWDG’s more detailed information is now, as far as I can see, harder to access. Perhaps others still want in on the consultation business though because I can see no other reason for setting up companies to collect information on our wildlife. It makes me wonder if we will end up with developments getting green lit on the basis of incomplete environmental information? These are entirely my own thoughts but I, for one, will continue making my reports through the IWDG alone.

Typically enough a report of a dead dolphin came in the day after my walk, on exactly the part of the beach I had been poking at dead crabs on, but by then I was too busy to go back and take tissue samples. My new colleague, an old friend who has just volunteered to help with strandings, will hopefully get to it.

The rest of the week was writing and working in the city. I finally got the best of my biggest deadline yesterday. When I arrived back on the coast after what looked to have been a beautiful day by the sea, I sat and watched the pink clouds shading to purple then grey in the robin’s egg blue sky over an impossibly blue sea, its intensity deepening before brightening and fading into dusk. I thought then I would write about how the telegraph wires and poles – which I once appreciated for their sketchy, swooping lines – now, in their continuing profusion, are dissecting my sea and sky into ever smaller slivers. But I didn’t. Not really.