CORK County Council has literally gone back to the drawing board to redesign a proposed breakwater for Baltimore.
Tom Comerford, a senior engineer in the Council’s water services capital projects, said the local authority’s application for planning permission to build a breakwater – to provide shelter for boats – was refused by An Bord Pleanala due to ‘loss of habitat’ in a Special Area of Conservation.
However, he said the Council had meet with National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and he suggested: ‘There may be alternative designs.’ He also said they were expecting a favourable response in relation to a foreshore application.
County engineer Kevin Morey described the meeting with the NPWS as ‘a straight-up conversation.’ He said the question of re-interpreting the habitat is not an option and that the Council’s focus would now have to be on a structure that would minimise the impact of the breakwater.
Kevin Costello, a senior coastal engineer with Cork County Council, told the councillors: ‘We are in the process of procuring an addendum to the existing report, but the challenge is going to be funding.
It is a serious job and the funding we get from the Department of Marine isn’t going to cover the cost of that.’
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) pointed out that Baltimore is ‘a working harbour and a breakwater is essential.’ He said he saw for himself how a window snapped off a ferry due to the force of the wind.
He said he had it on good authority that the habitat would come back within 12 months and two years. ‘In fact,’ he said, ‘the breakwater would become a haven for sea life.’
The councillors also discussed the Department of Marine’s €218,625 allocation for fishery and coastal works in the county and Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said it was a derisory amount and that West Cork needed quadruple that amount to cover the basics.
The largest grant allocation of €45,000 is to be spent on reconstructing a section of an existing slipway, steps and a handrail, as well as other repairs, at Snave Pier in Ballylickey.
The sum of €40,000 for safety signage and equipment in eight coastal communities has also been sanctioned; plus €40,000 to upgrade the pier and slipway at Crookhaven.
Cllr Collins said there are a lot of projects deserving of funding including the need for a barrage for Ballydehob and the elimination of an odour around the village.
Cllr Collins said the measly amount is ‘another kick to rural areas. And it is a kick in the teeth for fishermen who want their piers fixed and it is a drop in the ocean compared to what’s actually needed.’
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said Union Hall could also do with a significant funding allocation to upgrade the old pier because there is, at present, ‘no place where a yacht can tie up.’