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Wexford County Council Draft Plan 2021-2027

On 28 September 2020, Wexford County Council published its Draft Wexford County Development Plan 2021-2027 and commenced a public consultation process via its online consultation portal. The Draft Plan is available online together with an invitation to make submissions. Details at https://consult.wexfordcoco.ie/en/consultation/wexford-draft-county-development-plan. The consultation period closes at 4pm on Wednesday 9 December 2020.

Tern success

NPWS reveals record number of Roseate Tern pairs in Wexford island colony

  • Minister of State Malcolm Noonan praises biodiversity commitment of wildlife staff and local community
  • Lady’s Island Lake is the second-largest colony in Europe for rare seabird

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is pleased to announce record numbers of pairs of Roseate Terns at the tern colony on islands in Lady’s Island Lake, County Wexford, in the 2020 breeding season.

Lady’s Island Lake is designated as a Special Protection Area for four species of Terns — Sandwich, Arctic, Common & Roseate Terns. These ground-nesting seabirds are also known as sea-swallows, due to their appearance. They migrate each spring, to nest on islands close to productive fishing areas.

All four species are listed by the European Union as “Annex I” species in need of special protection. The Roseate Tern is one of the rarest breeding European seabirds, with Lady’s Island Lake the second-largest colony in Europe (outside of the Azores Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean).

The islands in Lady’s Island Lake are wardened from April to August, by contractors working on behalf of, and with, NPWS staff. Nest boxes are provided for the terns on the ground, which help them to shelter from harsh weather and hide from aerial predators. Two wardens boat out to the islands almost every day throughout the breeding season, monitoring the terns and their nests, disturbance and predation incidents. The wardens also read rings put on chicks in previous years, to improve information on the ecology of the birds.

Conservation Ranger Tony Murray said: ‘’This year we had 273 pairs of Roseate Tern, up from 195 last year, and our highest number ever.”

The project is funded by the NPWS and has been running annually for over 30 years. “This project is heavily reliant on the goodwill, support and assistance from the local community. Without the assistance of landowners who facilitate the project, access and storage of equipment, we would never have reached the success this project has. The local community are an active support to our wardening, contacting NPWS with any useful information,” Mr Murray said.

The Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, said the record numbers of pairs recorded was another biodiversity success story. “As with the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s initiatives to boost Curlew and Partridge numbers and restore White-Tailed Eagles to our skies, this is a story of partnership between wildlife staff and the wider community,” Minister Noonan said.

“I would like to commend the NPWS staff for their incredible efforts to support the tern population and applaud the people of Wexford for their help in supporting their vital work.”

Warden Dave Daly said that, ”while we hope each pair raises at least one chick, it can be trying for the terns to find enough fish if weather conditions are harsh. This year the weather was kind at the right time and prey obviously relatively abundant, and productivity at 1.5, surpassing the previous best of 1.38, that equates at a chick-and-a-half per pair fledged.”

The NPWS extends its thanks and appreciation to landowners for facilitating access and to the local community for their involvement, interest and support over the years.

The terns are now migrating south to their wintering grounds from West Africa to Southern Africa, and we are already looking forward to their return next spring.

Further information:

National Parks and Wildlife Service: https://www.npws.ie/

Lady’s Island Lake Special Protection Area: https://www.npws.ie/protected-sites/spa/004009

NPWS involvement in European LIFE project for Roseate Terns: http://roseatetern.org/ladys-island-lake.html

(Source: Government press release on 18 September 2020 at https://www.chg.gov.ie/npws-reveals-record-number-of-roseate-tern-pairs-in-wexford-island-colony/)

Harbours & Piers Bye-Laws

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.

Celtic Routes Project

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).

Monitoring in Ballyteige Bay

BuoyOn 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).

Map
Locations of the monitoring point and the control point.

Rats on the Saltee Islands

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: orla.kelly@ahg.gov.ie, ‘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).

The CLEAR project

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.

Wastewater treatment plants holdup

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).

Green light for Hook Head and Bannow Bay

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 [1110], Estuaries [1130], Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide [1140], Large shallow inlets and bays [1160], Reefs [1170] and Submerged or partially submerged sea caves [8330]. 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.