ROWING CLUB ANGER OVER WEIR PROPOSAL
“The people of Fermoy will wake up one day, see that this has already been done and will ask how it was allowed to happen,” members of the town’s rowing club said this week of proposals for a controversial weir on the River Blackwater at the centre of the town.
Speaking to The Avondhu this week club chairman Pa Granville and secretary Donal O’Keeffe explained their fears for the future of the club should the plans for the weir, due to be unveiled to the public this Wednesday, go ahead.
The members of the rowing club argue that the changes that will take place as a result of the new weir will have widespread consequences for the town, not just for Fermoy Rowing Club and believe the executive of Fermoy Town Council are ‘forcing through’ proposals that incorporate works on the weir into plans for the flood relief plan for the town, ensuring the Government assume the costs of the works in the process.
The club, who say they are spending €1,400 a day on engineers to analyse the potential effects of the proposed weir have already spent €2,500 on a survey of the Blackwater as they were unaware of a similar survey undertaken by the Fermoy Town Council executive who, club members claim, have kept Fermoy Rowing Club ‘completely in the dark’ on the matter.
Amongst the issues the rowing club have with the proposals is the estimated 9.7inch drop in the level of the river should the weir go ahead, a drop, they argue, that could spell the end of summer activity for the rowing club.
Any potential regatta or training session, members argue, would be hampered in the event of a summer drought, as a drop in water levels would make launching boats increasingly difficult.
Furthermore the site of the new proposed weir, which lies across from the town’s public toilets outside The Grand Hotel, would be dangerous for rowing activity.
Thirdly the club members were keen to highlight that while competitions and regattas take place over a relatively short stretch of water, the club’s training sessions span lengths of over 3 kilometres from the clubhouse out towards Castlehyde.
This route will be made impassable should the levels drop and the width of the river shrink in proportion as well known local points along the river, such as the strand, will not be able to accommodate rowers passing-by, they claim.
This ‘shrink’ of the river, as levels drop and water recedes from the riverbanks, will uncover the more unsightly elements of the river, damaging the aesthetic appeal of Fermoy they added.
Finally members claim that they have had little help in determining the heritage status of the existing weir, and whether or not it is established as a part of the main bridge in the town, a protected structure.
“We are sympathetic to those involved in fishing but in reality fishermen have enjoyed more fish this season than in the last 30 years because of the ban on drift net fishing in Youghal,” Mr Granville said, “Fishermen in Castletownroche, Ballyhooly and Mallow will tell you they are having the best fishing in years.”
Fearing the plans are ‘fait accompli’, Fermoy Rowing Club are urging members of the public to attend next Wednesday’s public consultation on the works in The Grand Hotel.
They say that they will be satisfied with the works if they are given a series of written, legally binding guarantees on the level of the water, a promise to lower the slips from which the club launch their boats and assurances that instant intervention can be made by adjusting the weir should the water level drop significantly lower than 4.7 inches of the current level.
All eyes will be on Fermoy as the outcome will set a precedent for others fighting European directives on weirs, such as the Duke of Devonshire who opposes similar action on a weir at Careysville near Lismore.
Thursday 13th November 5:33pm