Environmental Damage being done to Terryland Forest River, October 2013

Letter sent to Paul Costello of the OPW
Greetings Paul.
I was notified earlier this evening by Tom Cuffe of Birdwatch Galway that the operations of the OPW digger was seriously damaging the ecology of the Terryland River and surrounding banks.
I was so concerned by what he said that I took time off work to investigate.
I was deeply shocked by what I saw when I got to the digger's location adjacent to Galway Bay FM.
1. The digger was dredging up the river bed thereby eliminating an aquatic habitat  in the process.
2. Most (but not all) the knotweed that previously covered the banks was gone, at least from the surface area. But large amounts of this invasive weed now was covering the waterways and being moved by the currents further along the course of the river! The digger was scooping up quantities of this weed from the waters, but much was being left behind. Rather that controlling this dangerous  invasive species, the present OPW works is contributing to its spread.
It would seem to me that the OPW should remove the Knotweed manually with a team of staff rather than by machine which is as stated doing more harm than good.

3. Native trees such as willow that grew near the river and provided nest areas for bird life were ripped up.
I attach a photograph that I took today of this environmental damage.
Mr. Cuffe has spent five months conscientiously surveying the amazing array of butterflies, moths and bird-life that inhabited this area of the Terryland River as part of a nationwide biodiversity survey. He is utterly devastated that the habitats of many of these species is now destroyed.
Hence I hereby ask the OPW to stop their digger operations with immediate effect in order to save the remaining river area habitats along the river and allow an environmental impact assessment to be undertaken with Galway City Council Parks department in conjunction with the National Parks and Wildlife service before further work in undertaken.
Terryland River, Summer 2013. Excessive Plant growth blocking water flow & hindering aquatic wildlife
As you know I lobbied you and the OPW earlier this year for works to be undertaken in order to professionally remove the knotweed from along the riverbanks as well as much of the plant-life that was choking the waterways thus hindering the movement of fish and water fowl.
You informed that it was already the plan of the OPW to undertake these works this year.
But this present activity is ecologically destructive and is not what I expected.
I expect that you yourself did not realise the damage that was being done as your emails of earlier this summer expressed realisation that the knotweed should be removed in a professional manner, hopefully in a sealed container for incineration. Furthermore, it is a great pity that your stated opinion in August that the OPW should meet onsite with members of the Terryland Forest Park Steering Committee as well as the parks, environment and maintenance sections of Galway City Council to discuss the situation in advance of the works commencing did not materialise. If this get-together had taken place, probably the present situation would not have occured.
I look forward to hearing from you,

Le meas

Brendan Smith
Terryland Forest Park Steering Committee

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