Plans to modify Cork weir dropped


GOVERNMENT PLANS to alter a historic Co Cork weir on the river Blackwater have been abandoned, following a review by Minister of State for Natural Resources Conor Lenihan.

Mayor of Fermoy Cllr Noel McCarthy (Labour) and Fermoy Rowing Club have welcomed Mr Lenihan’s review, after a protracted campaign to protect the weir, part of which dates back to the 12th century.

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources had planned to replace the existing weir with a 62m wide rock ramp to protect fish stocks. The work was due to coincide with a multimillion-euro plan to mitigate the effects of flooding in the town.

Fermoy Rowing Club members, supported by some 3,000 local residents, said that the weir only required repair.

An engineer’s report, commissioned by the club, proposed weir repairs and installation of a second fish pass as a less costly and more effective solution.

Mr Lenihan said he had been engaged with the rowing club in relation to how their needs could be met, while also ensuring that the issue of fish passage could also be resolved.

He said he “had decided and had instructed” Fermoy Town Council to restore the existing fish ladder at the weir “as a matter of urgency”.

The campaign to protect the weir had taken its case to Europe. Mr Lenihan referred to this when he said that “in light of discussions with the European Commission and the Attorney General”, he had come to the conclusion that the repair of the existing fish ladder was the “appropriate immediate action”.

Mr Lenihan cautioned that the impact of the repairs on fish migration would have to be “closely monitored”.

If the required improvement was not achieved, he would “not hesitate to direct the town council to undertake further major works”, he said.