Limerick Navigation Conference

These are the slides from my presentation at the ‘Inland Navigations of Ireland Historical Society’ conference in Tullamore in March 2017. The talk was entitled ‘After Ardnacrusha’ and provided an overview of the general ecological consequences of the Shannon Hydroelectric scheme.

Most of my presentation was verbal, but you will get an overview of the issues I discussed in this video and I have also summarised some of the key issues below. Enable HD quality on the playback.

A restored River Shannon will provide so much more value via Ecosystem Services than hydroelectricity generation alone could ever do. The ESB’s Shannon salmon and eel management programmes have failed; let’s close Parteen salmon hatchery, phase out eel trap and transport, and invest in new fish passes/bypasses instead. We need to increase and vary the compensation flow provided to the old River Shannon. 

The ESB are currently upgrading their elver traps which is warmly welcomed – the European eel is a critically endangered species. But why did our state fisheries regulators – or indeed the ESB’s own scientific staff and advisers – not ask for this urgent work to be done? Upgrading these elver traps is also just the first step.

I also pointed out in my talk that we will have to start managing this Natura 2000 river sustainably before we start talking about abstracting water for Dublin. The ESB’s existing major water abstraction from the Lower River Shannon Special Area of Conservation has never been assessed in relation to compliance with the EIA, Habitats, and Water Framework Directives – so let’s do these mandatory assessments first and see where we end up!

For further information see the following links:-

The current water management regime on the Lower River Shannon was set in the 1920’s, with the fish passes designed in the 1920’s and 1950s’. The scientific knowledge to manage things better is there now and needs to be acted on.

It is clear that there needs to be a change in the way this Natura 2000 river is managed to balance the requirements for hydroelectricity generation with the interests of ecology, fisheries, the catchment residents and varied user groups on the river, and municipal water abstraction.

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