GLANDORE Harbour Yacht Club (GHYC) and Sailing School says it will have no choice but to close if the County Council goes ahead with its radical proposals for the pier.
The Council plans to dramatically reduce the storage area for boats on the breakwater section, which stakeholders say would mean an end to all marine leisure activity in the harbour.
Pier users are up in arms and say the plan will mean 80% less boat storage on the already-crowded pier.
A spokesman for the board of directors of GHYC said: ‘This is a major blow and will effectively shut us down. The sailing school is one of the reasons people come to Glandore. Houses are booked a year in advance by people attending.’
As well as the club, which was set up in 1985, and has around 500 members, the commercial sailing school also runs a non-profit training programme for pupils in local schools.
‘We run a training school programme for the local national schools of Glandore/Leap/Union Hall and Abbeystrewry, and we have other schools waiting to join in,’ said club secretary Mary O’Sullivan. ‘We also run transition year sailing courses involving Skibbereen and Rosscarbery schools. All these courses are oversubscribed, but we are happy to facilitate the running of the courses as it is a positive for the area and it also ensures that local people are involved in the sailing and boating.’
She added that GHYC plays a valuable part in the community, year-round. ‘We directly employ 12 local people to assist in the running of sailing and boating courses, plus a full-time training officer.’
The pier is also very popular for kayakers, motor boat users and rowers, and is used by the local rowing club.
Stakeholders agree that space is an issue on the pier, but say their alternative proposals to the Council have fallen on deaf ears.
The club also pays an annual fee to use the pier and, for the past 15 years, has funded a floating pontoon for storage.
‘Additional berthing, relieving pressure on the pier head, could be accommodated by cementing the northwestern upper part of the pier,’ said Mary. ‘GHYC have contributed financially in 2001 and 2003 to the cost of concreting the northern two levels of the pier and would not be against contributing to help with concreting the upper western part. A draft proposal of how this could be achieved and has previously been submitted to the Council.’
Aodh O’Donnell, chairman of a group called the Harbour Users Committee, which was set up to include Union Hall and Glandore stakeholders, said there has been a complete lack of engagement from the Council on the issue.
He also referred to the Council’s decision to erect robust barriers at the end of Keelbeg pier in Union Hall for safety measures.
‘This is effectively taking away a facility, without replacing it with anything, or giving any idea when it will be returned,’ he said.
Two years ago barriers were put in place by the Council on the main Union Hall pier preventing public access.
‘After a public protest the barriers were moved slightly, but there’s still no public access without prior arrangement with the harbour master,’ said Aodh.
Cork South West FF TD Christopher O’Sullivan met harbour users in Glandore on Tuesday.
He said the measures proposed by the Council were ‘going too far’ and said it looked like ‘history repeating itself.’
‘There’s a trend here. I’m 100% in support of the community on this. I’m calling on the County Council to hold a meeting with pier users and come up with an agreement that’s acceptable for everyone.
‘I’ve repeatedly said that there’s huge potential for West Cork to be a capital for adventure tourism, but that can’t happen with restricted access to piers.’
There was no comment available from the County Council.