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Tuesday, 2nd March 2021

Tolan pleads with council to tackle coastal erosion emergency

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Councillor Sharon Tolan beside badly eroded dunes at Bettystown beach.

Fine Gael Councillor Sharon Tolan has issued an impassioned plea to Meath County Council calling on them to draw up a plan to protect the East Meath coastline which has been seriously damaged by coastal erosion this winter.

 In an emergency motion to yesterday’s meeting of Meath County Council she said: “In the wake of another winter and spring of severe weather, high spring tides, coastal storms and instances of man-made damage, to call on Meath County Council to engage immediately with all stakeholders and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications to develop a comprehensive plan to protect our ever diminishing coastline against coastal erosion and environmental damage so that measures can be implemented in advance of the next winter/spring period when the coastline is at it’s most vulnerable.”

Her motion was not deemed an emergency but it was referred to the Environment SPC for consideration.

Speaking after the meeting Councillor Tolan said: “Those of us lucky enough to live in the coastal towns of East Meath have spent another winter and spring watching helplessly as our coastline and dune structures have fallen foul to wild storms and environmental vandals. 

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“The high spring tides coupled with exceptionally stormy weather has resulted in a further decimation of our sand dunes, as the sea creeps closer and closer to homes, golf courses and businesses in East Meath. 

“The very shape of our county is changing before our eyes all the way from the Delvin River to the mouth of the River Boyne.  Ben Head in Gormanston is literally falling into the sea below, old stone gabions in Laytown lying along the beach torn and mangled, the Boyne Coast and Estuary Special Area of Conservation being vandalised and abused on a daily basis by motorists determined to test their vehicles power, or litter louts illegally dumping in the dead of night.

“Many Local Authorities around the country have management plans in place for dune protection and coastal erosion.  Marram grass planting projects, fencing, hard engineering works fixed to the shoreline such as the section carried out by Meath County Council a number of years ago. 

“We desperately need to finish that job. We must engage with local stakeholders, land owners, and the Department of the Environment, to put a plan in place that will see the long term protection of our coastline with sufficient funding to deliver it.

“We cannot ignore this any longer, and use the excuse that they’re in private ownership.  We have a duty of care and a responsibility to bring landowners and the Department with us so that we can ensure we have a sandy coastline and a dune system well into the future. 

“We have a duty to repair the remaining rock armour and gabions that are now a danger to visitors to the beach.  We have a responsibility to insist our bye-laws are enforced, and the Special Areas of Conservation within our county are protected for the many species of wildlife that so desperately depend on them to survive.

I am asking Meath County Council, I am begging Meath County Council, to act immediately, and set up a Coastal Protection Taskforce to address this immediately, before it’s too late.”

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