Addressing concerns about consultation in relation to Annacotty weir

This post sets out to address some of the concerns that have been raised about public consultation in relation to the Annacotty weir petition.

The petition for Annacotty weir is only to bring us to the start of what will be a long process. The process will include design, consultation, assessment, and planning stages. It is not going to be a case of the machines just arriving in and taking the weir out. I know some people are concerned about this – and have asked why there has been no consultation. I want to assure people that this project is going to proceed step-by-step and there will be full consultation. The petition is just to get the project started. It has not started yet. It would not be normal to have a public consultation about a petition. We are not at that stage yet. But rest assured that there will be full and detailed consultation about this project – if it actually gets off the ground.

The process will include design, consultation, assessment, and planning stages. It is not going to be a case of the machines just arriving in and taking the weir out

Even in a best-case scenario this project is going to take 3 years. The first step will be to draw up an Options Report. This report will set out all the possible options for the site that will range from full weir removal to not actually doing anything at all! Lowering the weir and installing a rock ramp fishway will also be in there, along with an option of just upgrading the existing fish pass. The Options will then be put out to public consultation. Following this the Options will be ranked on the basis of likely fish passage efficacy, engineering feasibility, environmental impact, community acceptance, and cost. A preferred Option will then emerge and then this Option will be developed in a detailed design – and this phase will again include further consultation. An Environmental Impact Assessment and Natura Impact Statement will then be prepared for the final chosen Option. The proposal will then be submitted to apply for planning permission and a further opportunity for the general public to provide observations will be available at this time.

This project is going to be done right. The machines are not just going to arrive in and take out the weir as happened at Ballyclogh weir. There is no need for anyone to be concerned about this as this is not the way this is going to progress. There will be full consultation at every stage of the project. I am happy to answer any questions that anyone has at this very early stage. You can post in the comments below – or email me at William.oconnor@ecofact.ie.

I also want to thank everyone again also for all the support for this petition. The petition is on its way to an incredible 6,500+ signatures – and this week Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Office of Public Works have both finally admitted that there is a major fish passage problem at this site. They have not engaged with the campaign yet – but hopefully they will do so soon, and we can get this important project started.

Also, this is only the first campaign of its type on the Lower River Shannon. The main focus of this site is still the ESB dams. But if we cannot sort out fish passage at a relatively minor weir like the one at Annacotty then we will have no hope with this!

Thanks again for the support – and if you have not signed the petition yet please consider doing so here.

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