“FREE THE LEE” SOURCE TO SEA
1. At present there are five community groups Shehy, Carrigarierk, Barnadivane, Derragh, Cleanrath, vehemently opposing the plans of private companies using multiple subsidiaries to construct 1000 wind turbines in the upper Lee Valley. All five cases have gone to review in the High Court.
The following live link is an essay giving a comprehensive account of what is at stake for a rural community opposing inappropriate and reckless development. Ultimately, their only recourse is to seek a judicial review in the high court, at their own expense!
Existing and ongoing wind farm developments will industrialise the entire uplands of the Lee and Bandon River basins. The ecological ramifications of what is effectively a continuous project, a Mega wind farm, clearly spell disaster.
The development is at variance with Article 6(2) of the Habitats Directive where planning authorities are obliged to ensure good water management in the catchment of rivers where Natura sites occur, as in the case of The Gearagh SAC, Bandon River SAC and Lough Allua SAC.
Natura 2000 is the key instrument to protect biodiversity in the European Union. It is an ecological network of protected areas, set up to ensure the survival of Europe's most valuable species and habitats.
SAC’s complement Special Protection Areas and together form a network of protected sites across the European Union called Natura 2000. This, in turn, is part of the Emerald network of Areas of Special Conservation Interest (ASCIs) under the Berne Convention.
2. At present the major stakeholders ESB / ESBI of the mid river Lee valley (Toons Bridge – Inniscarra Dam) are under order from the Chairperson of the European Commission since September 8th 2016 to submit a management plan for this area of ESB ownership. Known as the Gearagh, a Special Area of Conservation and Natura Site 2000 this ecologically critical inland river forest delta is under severe threat. International established ecologists have confirmed that the upper section of this inland river forest, is the last remnant of ancient woodland in Ireland England, Scotland and Wales. It is clearly our duty as Irish citizens to protect and preserve it.
Kevin Corcoran of West Cork Ecology is well known as a leading specialist on the Gearagh. Over the past 30 years he has played a major role in its protection and in establishing its current SAC status. Please see the video of Kevin’s presentation at the European parliament, September 2016, here and further articles below.
3. At present from the mouth of the river Bride and all the way to the City Hall, the largest most expensive (140 million Euros & 10 year construction time) Flood Relief design plan is about to be rolled out by the Office of Public Works. Only a tiny percentage of Corkonians to date are aware of its magnitude and ramifications. Although serious research has been undertaken by the OPW over the past number of years, the plan presented as almost “complete” was exhibited in the City Hall during the Christmas period. Public attendance was unfortunately poor. Those that did attend (including several professional architects based in the city) were “baffled and unable to decipher the extent and detail” of the proposal. The concerted effort to make sense of it and put the plan into a form that would enable the ‘person on the street’ understand and visualize what lies ahead, took this independent body of architects several weeks. They have banded together out of a sense of civic duty to inform Cokonians and out of professional concern for what the authorities, if given free reign, have in store. This is an enormous undertaking. The project is overloaded with complexity and the citizens of Cork can only be grateful that this group of idealists have volunteered their time and expertise to decipher and interpret this undertaking. Several public events have been organized. The press are now highlighting the severity and long term implications for the city and citizens of Cork. Several councilors and politicians have engaged positively. Due to the enormity and severity of this flood plan, it is crystal clear that more time is needed for discussion and further professional input.
“I’ve looked at the plans and I’ve been briefed by City Hall and I still don’t fully understand what is being proposed – obviously the people who were flooded in 2009 are understandably looking for something to be done but I wonder are they going to be protected by this flood defence system?
“What I will be seeking is to push back the February 17th deadline for three months, have plenty of publicity and public meetings to get people to look at the plan with experts from both sides and at the end of that process we would have a clear mind and either move forward or redesign it.” Councillor Ted Tynan.
Please find clearly compiled, relevant information at the live links here. SAVE CORK CITY group welcome one and all to engage with this important milestone for Cork.
In November 2014, the first cinematic documentation of the river Lee from source to sea entitled, RIVER RUNNER, premiered in the Gate Cinema. The film, which continues to screen around Ireland and Europe, inspired several individuals and community groups to actively campaign for the reversal of the unknown atrocities highlighted in the film. Over the past two years FREE THE LEE campaign has actively sought collaboration with politicians, MEPs and the major stakeholders. Our plea is twofold:
1.) Free passage for migratory fish on the Lee
2.) Professional management and preservation of the Gearagh.
Information can be found online at the following (Note riverrunner.ie is a brand new dedicated website to the film and campaign and will go live mid Feb 2017 replacing mp2films.com)
As manager of the FREE THE LEE campaign and director/producer of the film RIVER RUNNER I wish to state the fact that the river Lee is a singular natural entity that has flowed uninterrupted from the Sheehy mountains to the mouth of Cork harbour for some 10,000 years. Since the early 1950’s our river has suffered enormous ecological degradation. Multiple miscalculations have caused untold damage to our natural heritage and have incurred huge losses for far too many citizens. When I consider the current undertakings and listen to experienced professionals who volunteer their time and advice for the sake of positive improvement, I cannot help thinking that history appears to be blindly repeating itself.
On behalf of the 3,644 people who are following and have signed our online petition and all those in the City and County of Cork who have a deep interest in the proper, professional management of our heritage I would ask those of you who have professional and political input to collaborate and listen to the people of Cork’s concerns. This is undoubtedly complex but it is not rocket science. This is a request to exercise intelligence and respect for our unique river, the lovely Lee valley and the inhabitants of Cork City and County.
February 11 2017