A PUBLIC meeting in the Caha Community Centre in Beara recently heard details of a proposed 500-acre mussel farm in Ardgroom.
West Point Shellfish Ltd, with an address in Ardgroom, has applied to farm a section of Kenmare Bay nearly three miles long and stretching almost half way across the bay.
The meeting was organised by Friends of Kenmare Bay. Conor Murphy, a solicitor in Kenmare, and a member of the Friends of Kenmare Bay group, said the area was not against aquaculture, but the scale of this development was of huge concern.
‘It is three miles long and would stretch halfway across the bay,’ he said, ‘and the meeting heard that the livelihoods of up to ten local fishermen could be at risk.’
Social Democrat Cllr Holly Cairns, who also attended the meeting, along with Deputy Michael Collins and Kerry Cllr Dan McCarhty, said: ‘Many locals are concerned about its potential impact, not only on local fishing families on Beara, but also tourism and the environment.’
‘Although a site-specific survey has not been carried out, and may be costly and difficult to arrange given the time for submissions, it is strongly believed that development of this scale will affect flora and fauna. Applying for planning permission for a garden shed would go through a more testing process,’ she claimed.
Cllr Cairns drew comparisons with recent environmental campaigns in both Bantry and Skibbereen. ‘And as we’ve seen recently, community groups end up having to appeal decisions – at colossal financial costs. This is money that could be put to more positive local use. Proper strategy, joined-up thinking and a long-term plan for all stakeholders is required for Ireland’s foreshore and surrounding bays and seas,’ she said.
The Friends of Kenmare Bay have set up a Facebook page with a link to the plans, and point out that the deadline for submissions from the public is August 23rd.
‘We are giving people the information and letting them decide if they want to make a submission,’ said Mr Murphy. ‘But we have an issue with the whole licensing process. The submission period is 28 days and that is not really enough time.’