Although there is supposed to be a statutory close season for instream works in Ireland – with such works forbidden between the 1st October and 1st June each year – we came across these works on the Ballyfinboy River in Borrisokane, Co Tipperary, earlier today.
The Ballyfinboy is an important spawning tributary of Lough Derg and we are now in the close season. These works appear to be particularly unnecessary, and are unlikely to achieve anything except damage to this river. This area of the river was an important nursery area for the Annex II listed brook lamprey and a spawning area for trout. The lateral silt beds and associated vegetation that were here had high densities of brook lamprey present, and these have all been removed. The river is now wider and shallower in this area, which could prevent upstream movements of larger trout on their spawning migration. The silt fence which is in place here is ridiculous – the river is just flowing under a sheet of Terram – and these works are likely to have caused significant siltation of downstream spawning areas at a sensitive time of the year.
We know our rivers are not being protected in the summer months. Why are they not being protected during the statutory close season? Why are works like these which achieve nothing in terms of flood conveyance being authorised by IFI?