Coast Diary – May 29th

Last week I mentioned the proposed developments around Newtown Woods – on the west side of Tramore Bay – to support new builds there. I still haven’t yet had a chance to do more than skim these plans – which include street lighting and a cycle path. It may be that this work is needed but what is immediately apparent is that the environmental impact survey included for these upgrades, and presumably for the recent builds in the area, does not include Newtown Woods or Newtown Cove. It seems they are not protected areas or more specifically Natura 2000 sites. Natura 2000 sites are home to some of the 2000 species, and 230 habitat types, deemed to be most at risk and of European importance to protect. The impact survey does include the Back Strand, which is a few miles distant, as well as the Blackwater and The Nire Valley – at the other end of the county. Which seems a tad disingenuous. This is from the Explanatory Report…

The ecological sites …. are a Special Area of Conservation named Tramore Dunnes [sic] and Back Strand SAC, Site Code 000671, a Special Protection Area named Tramore Back Strand SPA, Site Code 004027, and a Special Protection Area named Mid-Waterford Coast SPA, Site Code 004193. None of the above sites are located within the scheme extent. It can be concluded that the proposed scheme, individually or in combination with other plans or projects, will have no effect on any of the ecological sites.

The environmental assessment – which the developments passed in flying colours seeing as they are nowhere near the environments assessed – is uselessly expanded on to include impacts on, among others, otter, salmon, lamprey, shad, godwit, and chough residing in the Blackwater River, Lower River Suir Dungarvan Bay, Blackwater Callows, Blackwater Estuary, Helvick Head – Ballyquin Coast, Mid Waterford Coast. Newtown Woods or its environs are not mentioned. It’s a bit chilling to think that the new estate which, in creeping up to the edge of this tiny woods saw materials stacked at the treeline, and which will presumably have street lighting, did not need to provide an environmental assessment for the area, only for the Back Strand – miles away. Too late now.

However there are a few areas where there may be some leverage to protect this little habitat. Bats are included and includes also all species outside designated sites [my italics]. And in the ‘Bat’ section – on page 24 of the Explanatory report – there is this addendum…

Along with above, in general all sites with any of the following; woods, mature treelines and hedgerows, old buildings and bridges. Activities that result in loss of woodland or hedgerow habitat or causes disturbance to roost sites.

Those in the locality will realise that Newtown Wood had two old bridges until they were replaced last year by the council which in retrospect has weakened the case for protecting the woods. Handy that. Additionally the one way system brought in at the end of last year that forces visitors to leave Newtown Cove via the woods instead of along Cliff Road means traffic has increased to a huge extent so the woods are being disturbed even as we speak. I wonder was there a survey done for that? I personally would love to see a return to two-way traffic which seems unlikely now.

But all is not lost – the mature trees and the old wall running down towards the turn off to the woods are necessary to both bats and bird species – including long eared owls – and should be taken into account. We had barn owls here too until a small area of bog was cleared a decade or so back. In such ways is nature pushed aside – bit by bit. Anyway, I feel the wall needs to stay and the street lighting should not be put in alongside the woods there if that is what is planned (its difficult to tell from the online drawings). And that is where I will be directing my concerns. I am one individual and a busy one at that and if anyone else is concerned they should also make submissions in writing to…

Ian Ludlow, Staff Officer, Active Travel, Waterford City & County Council, Menapia Building, The Mall, Waterford or byn 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.

Any information on species and habitats within the Newtown Woods area can be included in the comments below. This can include anything from sightings to more detailed knowledge. For instance I saw a pair of bullfinch in the woods two years back, the only time I have seen them there. Has anyone else seen them or similar? ncidentally I also saw bullfinch once in the trees running down by the Newtown Glen Housing Estate, trees which were disturbed by the recent roadworks there. What about the old wall?Does it support plant and insect species? What will pulling it down disturb? You can comment below or contact me via the contact form. I would love if an Ecological group wood take this up too as its too much for one person.

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