Rossbeigh sand spit breach now 500m


SAND-DREDGERS of the kind used to create the palm islands in the Gulf States would be needed to repair the breach in the Rossbeigh sand spit, one of the Republic’s finest blue flag beaches, residents have been told.

The breach has now widened to 500 metres from December when the two-mile spit first split at its tip and a new island has been created. About 40 acres have been lost from the spit as a result.

However, there is little chance of acquiring such giant sand-pumping machines, or of getting funding for such repair, Kerry County Council engineers liaising with experts from the Office of Public Works and the National Parks and Wildlife Service have said.

“There is a big fear the whole amenity will be taken,” said Fine Gael councillor Johnny O’Connor, who led a delegation of residents to the meeting in Killorglin of councillors and officials.

That meeting this weekend also heard that money needed for coastal erosion in Kerry alone is several times the €3 million national budget for coastal erosion. At least €1 million would be needed “to do anything constructive” on Rossbeigh alone, councillors said.

The use of rocks or stones would only serve to increase the breach of the sand spit and the use of wooden piles suggested by Glenbeigh residents would also have to be ruled out, according to engineer Éamon Scanlon.

This was because Rossbeigh, unlike land-backed beaches, was made up of pure sand. What was happening in Rossbeigh was a natural process; fishermen in Cromane were reporting the sand was being built up at Inch spit directly across Dingle Bay, the meeting heard.

Because it was a sand spit, it was the most difficult structure to protect. “Sand beach nourishment is the only option for Rossbeigh,” Mr Scanlon said. The giant machinery for that type of “beach-replenishment work”, which would involve dredging the sea bed and then “pumping” sand on to the breach, was in Dubai or in the Netherlands, but it was not in this country, Mr Scanlon said.

He added that the replenishment in Rossbeigh would have to be carried out continuously, possibly every second year.

European experts were visiting the Castlemaine harbour area of Dingle Bay, a much protected habitat later this month, and the council would seek their advice. It was to be hoped that “even in these times”, funds would be made available by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to stabilise the remainder of the spit.

Resident Michael O’Sullivan told the meeting he had walked the spit for the past 30 years and had measured the increase of the breach in the past months. It was a very rare amenity, and there were very few such habitats in Europe.

Where the Brent geese wintered was now being trampled on and he feared the entire area would disappear. The breach had stabilised but the front beach was still eroding.

Residents and councillors also said the Caragh river was now changing its run into the bay and going through the new breach and that new dangerous channels were forming on the spit.

The council has been urged to erect warning signs and to prevent further erosion of the sand dunes. OPW experts and Martin Mansergh, the Minister for State with responsibility for the OPW, the body in charge of coastal erosion, are to visit the area shortly.

Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Cahill hoped Dr Mansergh would be able to do something and would not lose his position in the forthcoming junior minister cuts.