Any potential links between a devastating grass fire on Dublin’s Bull Island and the return of traffic to the nature reserve need to be investigated, the Green Party has said.
Dublin Fire Brigade was called on Monday night to an extensive fire at the north Dublin nature reserve, with two fire engines attending and crews using gorse beaters to tackle the blaze.
The cause of the fire has not been formally established.
On Monday morning, cars were allowed to return to the Causeway Road which runs through the nature reserve, and is used to access Dollymount Strand and St Anne's Golf Club.
Dublin City Council had closed the road to traffic at the beginning of April following Garda concerns over the public's observance of the Covid-19 restrictions.
The island is a wildlife reserve and a key part of the Dublin Bay Biosphere which is a Unesco site protected by National, EU and International legislation. The fire was a "potential ecological disaster" the Green Party said, as ground nesting birds have returned to the Island after any years, including the skylark and the ringed plover.
"I'm so upset this morning to think of the destruction of the beautiful habitat. A world Unesco site, Bull island has the most designations of any site in the country, as a bird sanctuary since 1930's, a biosphere reserve, and a nature reserve," Green Party Councillor for Clontarf, Donna Cooney, said.
“We don’t know what caused it yet, but I want to find out if there is a connection to the fact that they opened up the island to cars yesterday,” she said.
Cllr Cooney called on the council to do everything in its power to protect the island.
“Nature had recovered in the last few weeks when human activities had been restricted, the public had been enjoying nature in its all its wonder by threading gently, listening to the beautiful song of the skylark.
Cllr Cooney had earlier called for cars not to be allowed return to the causeway on Monday because inadequate facilities had been installed for cyclists and walkers, she said.
The council this week published an action plan for the nature reserve which would limit public access to parts of the island.