There has been industrial type development and encroachment onto the riparian area of the Lower River Shannon Special Area of Conservation by Shannon Rowing Club at the former Annacotty pumphouse site – just upstream of the Mulkear confluence. This has caused loss of priority alluvial forest habitat within the SAC and severe aesthetic impacts on one of the most peaceful and unspoilt sections of the Lower Shannon. The clearance of this woodland habitat within the SAC took place during the bird nesting season. There has also been loss of juvenile lamprey habitat at the river margins.
According to the Natura Impact Statement of the Shannon Rowing Club (SRC) development (available on the Limerick Co Co planning site), a total of 502 m2 of priority Alluvial forest 91E0 habitat within the Lower Shannon SAC was destroyed here at the Annacotty pumphouse. The presence of this area of habitat was confirmed by a botanist commissioned by SRC, so both Shannon Rowing Club and Limerick County Council knew in advance of the importance of this habitat. It is clear that at least this area of priority habitat has been destroyed based on our site visit, and much more of this habitat and other SAC conservation interests have been affected. These works are all within the protected Lower River Shannon SAC site and Shannon Rowing Club and Limerick County Council are clearly in breach of the requirements of the EC Habitats Directive in relation to these works.
The NIS proposed “compensatory” woodland planting. But this can only occur with special permission from the European Commission. No compensation planting has occurred at this site to date.
The loss of over 500 m2 of priority Alluvial forest 91E0 habitat at the pump house site on the Lower Shannon is a significant impact on this SAC. There is no way that Limerick County Council should have granted permission for this habitat loss, especially when the clearance took place during the bird nesting season. People who destroy protected areas have to be stopped. All the works in the photos below took place in the internationally important and fully designated Lower River Shannon Special Area of Conservation.
It is incredible that it takes this type of destruction to access the river. This will not teach young people to have respect for rivers and riparian areas. The impacts here contrast with the sensitively located angling stands just upstream from here – stands that attracted hundreds of English and European coarse fishermen until access was restricted. The destruction caused here by Shannon Rowing Club clearly shows that these people have no respect for the river. It also clearly shows how the Lower River Shannon SAC is not being protected by Limerick County Council, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Inland Fisheries Ireland. Placement of industrial containers, woodland clearance and riparian encroachment should be prohibited activities in the Lower River Shannon SAC. Shannon Rowing Club are just another destructive pressure on the Lower River Shannon – and in breach of the requirements of the Habitats Directive here.