East Meath Cllr Elaine McGinty has called for an ‘urgent plan’ for the River Boyne that incorporates cleaning, water quality and the monitoring of the removal of materials from it.
Cllr McGinty (Labour) said,“in the past few weeks the spotlight has been firmly on the River Boyne.”
She said there was the planning application by Dawn Meats, which proposes a new wastewater pipe to discharge treated effluent to the Boyne near Ardmulchan.
In addition there has been a debate around magnet fishing and recently there were two " historic incendiary devices" found as well as ancient logboats.
“These cases have highlighted the need for the historic River Boyne to be appropriately managed and protected as part of a Special Area of Conservation and I am urgently calling for a strategic plan to put it in place.”
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Cllr McGinty said she has has written to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage “to clarify legislation in relation to management of the River Boyne and Bye Laws in relation to magnet fishing.”
“From the Minister’s response it is clear that the Bye Laws do not expressly prohibit magnet fishing, but do prohibit the removal of any material without the permission of Waterways Ireland. However, Waterways Ireland have confirmed they are not responsible for the River Boyne which suggests a potential regulatory gap.”
“At a recent council meeting I requested urgent clarity into which government agency has overall responsibility for the River Boyne.”
“Shockingly, their response indicated that there is no one agency with overall responsibility for the historic river, and the Council are now engaging with the Garda to clarify its response.
“Everyone wants cleaner rivers, and the legislation is there but what is needed now is a coherent plan to tackle all sources of pollution and management of the River Boyne going forward,” she added.
At the monthly meeting of Meath County Council, Director of Service Larry Whelan told Cllr McGinty that, “ownership and management of the River Boyne is a difficult one, it is fair to say it is owned by the Irish public with many different interested parties.”
He said,“we are very familiar with the magnet fishing issue though I think it is fair to say our main role is to take away the actual material taken out of the actual canal or whatever.”
The council is due to have further discussions with the Gardai this week and any assistance it can give including signage, he added.
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