BY JACKIE KEOGH
GARDAI were called to Kealkil on Monday after a landowner tried to block Coillte subcontractors from felling and extracting trees.
On Sunday evening, John O’Mahony of Kealkil admitted he placed a trailer at one side of a bridge in a bid to prevent large haulage vehicles from gaining access to a forestry site at Coonacroobeg, but removed the obstruction when asked to do so by two members of the gardai at lunchtime on Monday.
Mr O’Mahony said he repeatedly made complaints to Cork County Council about the state of the roadway and the bridge, since the tree felling operation began last October.
A spokesperson said: ‘Cork County Council is aware of the problem and the complaint in relation to the condition of the roads, and the matter has been taken up with Coillte.’
Bernard Burke, area manager for Coillte, the Irish Forestry Board, acknowledged: ‘There was some damage there over the last couple of weeks, and we worked with the Council in supplying stone for the repair to the road and we carried out repairs to the bridge as well.
‘We have also cleaned the drains on the side of the road, following consultations with some of the residents, and have worked with the Council in relation to these matters.’
Mr Burke confirmed that subcontractors had been engaged to remove timber off the site at Coonacroobeg in Kealkil, but he rejected suggestions made by Mr O’Mahony that these vehicles are not fully compliant with current legislation.
Mr O’Mahony is adamant that the vehicles are too heavy for the by-road in question. He said they are effectively churning up the road and damaging the bridge. In blocking the road, he said he was preventing the larger lorries going through, but there was sufficient access for cars, vans and an ambulance to cross.
Mr O’Mahony said the vehicles knocked a section of an old concrete bridge and the repairs that were carried out were not to his satisfaction. He also maintained that a defect in the bridge structure could have long-term consequences for the five families who are living on that road.
Barbara Green of Coosane on the Ballydehob to Bantry Road also has a complaint about Coillte. ‘For the last five years,’ she said, ‘Coillte have been hauling out big lorry-loads of logs and they have left the road in a very bad state. Now it is more of a forestry road than a Council road because it just has hardcore on it, not tar and chip.’
Mrs Green said she had reported this matter to the Council on numerous occasions, and they say they haven’t got the budget. ‘But it is my opinion that Coillte should be held responsible or at the very least should have put money towards its repair and restoration.’
Cllr Michael Collins (Ind) has called for ‘a weight restriction’ to be put on the bridge at Coonacroobeg, and for Coillte to implement a proper compensation package to redress the damage done.