On Friday 3 July 2020, Wexford County Council issued a Public Notice advising that it proposed to make bye-laws known as the ‘Wexford County Council Harbours & Piers Bye-Laws 2020’ to regulate the use of piers, harbours and car parking areas under its custody and control at 14 locations in the county, four of them on the South Wexford Coast (https://www.wexfordcoco.ie/news/2020/07/03/wexford-county-council-public-notice-draft-wexford-county-council-harbours-and-piers). A 52-page Draft of the bye-laws was published, and submissions or observations are invited before 5.00pm on Monday 24 August 2020. The four bye-law areas on the South Wexford Coast were Slade Harbour, Fethard Harbour, Barrystown Slipway and Kilmore Quay Harbour. It is anticipated that the bye-laws will come into force on 1 November 2020.
Launched on 28 November 2019, the Celtic Routes Project is a €M1.9 co-funded European Territorial Co-Operation (ETC) Ireland-Wales project aiming to encourage visitors to explore new areas of Ireland and Wales. Wexford County Council is the lead Irish partner with a budget of €286,476. The funding application for the project was based on six themes one of which was ‘Wildlife, Flora, Fauna and specialities’. The project highlights coastal trails and destinations in West Wales and south-east Ireland. On the South Wexford Coast, three ‘Celtic Routes’ are featured: the Ring of Hook Coastal Drive, the Tintern Trails, and Fethard Dock. Hook Head lighthouse is flagged as a ‘Celtic Beacon’ and ‘Whales breaching at Hook Head’ in November are signalled as a seasonal ‘Celtic Moment’ (https://celticroutes.info/ and https://www.wexfordcoco.ie/community/celtic-routes-project).
On 11 May 2020, Wexford County Council Notice to Mariners No. 14 of 2020 Kilmore Quay, Chart No. 5621.16 & 2740, gave public notice that, in conjunction with the proposed dredging programme for Kilmore Quay harbour, data sampling buoys of type IDS DB180 would be deployed in Ballyteige Bay from 15 May 2020 to mid-July 2020 approximately (https://kilmorequaymarina.com/navigational-chart/).
On 15 May 2020, two buoys were deployed from Fethard Dock: one at Monitoring Point 52° 11.467’ N, 6° 47.983’ W off Ingard Point and near the mouth of Bannow Bay, the other at Control Point 52° 08.772’ N, 6° 44.313’ W due south of the Keeragh Islands. The buoys were deployed to monitor turbidity and suspended solids to comply with licence conditions (personal communication, George Colfer, Coastal Engineer and Captain Phil Murphy, Senior Marine Officer, Wexford County Council).
On 13 May 2020, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DCHG) invited tenders to manage a project to eradicate Brown Rats from Saltee Island Great. Titled ‘the Great Saltee Rat Eradication Project’, tenders were invited to undertake the required preparatory phases up to and including (subject to client approval) the operational planning and to carry out the implementation phases of the project.
Rats are known to have very detrimental effects on seabird populations through predation and competition for food and habitat, causing local and global extinction of birds on islands throughout the world. Recent work on seabird islands in the UK where rats have been eradicated show pronounced increases in breeding Puffin and Manx Shearwater numbers e.g. Lundy (https://www.conservationevidence.com/individual-study/2241).
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, together with input from University College Cork (UCC) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Britain, and with the support of the island’s owner, has undertaken preliminary steps through the collection of evidence (e.g. surveys of Puffin, Manx Shearwater and Brown Rat by UCC), the trailing of vegetation clearance and other logistics including the drafting of a bait station grid. NPWS is now in a position to progress the plan to eradicate Saltee Island Great of its rat population.
The response deadline for tendering is 12 noon on 15 June 2020 (Ref: SPU CO22-2020 – Great Saltee Rat Eradication Project). The DCHG contact person is Orla Kelly, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, ‘phone 01 631 3898, and the NPWS contact person is Paul Laycock (Source: https://irl.eu-supply.com/ctm/Supplier/PublicPurchase/166934/0/0?returnUrl=ctm/Supplier/publictenders&b=ETENDERS_SIMPLE).
CLEAR stands for Coastal Lagoons: Ecology And Restoration. CLEAR is a three-year research project co-funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The project focuses on Lady’s Island Lake with an unused flooded gravel pit at the quarry operated by Inish Pebble Company Ltd at Inish and Ballyteige Slob as a control site. The project aims to investigate both the ecology and nutrient inputs at Lady’s Island Lake with a view to devising a detailed plan to restore water quality in the lake to good status. It is anticipated that the Lady’s Island Lake plan will serve as a blueprint for improving water quality in other coastal lagoons around Ireland. The on-going CLEAR project can be followed at www.projectclear.ie or at https://twitter.com/ClearLagoon.
At their March meeting, members of Wexford County Council vented their anger at Irish Water once again after it emerged that the delivery of long-promised wastewater treatment plants around the county was to be postponed by a year due to a €100 million shortfall in funding. The Kilmore Quay plant was due to go to tender in summer 2020 with a view to entering construction phase by the end of the year. The proposed treatment plant for Fethard was at design phase. (Source: Wexford People, issue dated 17 March 2020, page 30).
Irish Wildlife Manuals is a series of contract reports relating to the conservation management of habitats and species in Ireland. The volumes are published by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The most recent volume, Irish Wildlife Manual No 118 compiled by Louise Scally, Nick Pfeiffer and Elizabeth Hewitt, reports on the monitoring and assessment of the following six EU Habitats Directive Annex I marine habitats: Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time , Estuaries , Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide , Large shallow inlets and bays , Reefs  and Submerged or partially submerged sea caves . Two sites were sampled on the South Wexford Coast: Hook Head and Bannow Bay. Habitats are assessed on a three point, traffic light scale: Favourable, Inadequate and Bad. The overall site assessment for 1160 and 1170 at Hook Head and 1130 and 1140 at Bannow Bay was ‘Favourable’ in each case (Scally et al., 2020 pages 30, 33, 25 and 27).
Source: Scally, L., Pfeiffer, N., and Hewitt, E. 2020. The monitoring and assessment of six EU Habitats Directive Annex I Marine Habitats. Irish Wildlife Manuals, No 118. Dublin: National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Available online at https://www.npws.ie/publications/irish-wildlife-manuals.
Explore Your Shore is a citizen science project to record coastal biodiversity. If you would like to record details of any plant or animal that you find on your local seashore go to https://exploreyourshore.ie/ for further information.
Wexford County Council is undertaking a maintenance dredging programme at Kilmore Quay to improve access to the harbour. The dredging involves the removal of up to a maximum of 40,000 tonnes of clean sand/gravel material from the entrance of the harbour and dumping the material approximately 11 kilometres west of the harbour, south of the Keeragh Islands. The dredging will be carried out over a number of campaigns and over a maximum time period of eight years. The Council expects to carry out the first dredging campaign in Spring 2020. In accordance with the conditions of EPA Dumping at Sea Permit Register Number S0030-01 (http://www.epa.ie/terminalfour/DaS/DaS-view.jsp?regno=S0030-01) information regarding the environmental performance will be published on the Council’s website at https://www.wexfordcoco.ie/latest-news.
The sand and gravel barrier separating Lady’s Island Lake from the eastern Celtic Sea was breached mechanically by Wexford County Council on Wednesday 22 January 2020 with water level in the lagoon standing at 5.689m ODP. The barrier burst on Saturday 25th and water level in the lagoon bottomed out at 3.515m, a fall in level of 2.174m. The breach tided for seven days with water level dropping to a minimum of 3.232m at 06:30h on the morning tide on Thursday 30th. The breach closed naturally on Sunday 2 February and water level in the lagoon stabilised at 3.67m. Further data on changes water levels may be accessed on the OPW website at http://waterlevel.ie/0000013070/0001/.