NPWS investigations unit looking into Tallaght wetland

Published by Niall Sargent on

September 24th, 2019

The investigations unit of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has contacted South Dublin County Council in relation to the recent dumping of silt on a wetland area in Tallaght.

The move follows the discovery by the Herpetological Society of Ireland (HSI) on Saturday that a wetland area it was monitoring in Sean Walsh Memorial Park was covered over with mud and silt and levelled off.

The former waste ground regenerated naturally over many years and was bursting with wildlife including the protected smooth newt and common frog, as well as the critically endangered European eel.

Collie Ennis, a science officer with the volunteer group of amphibian and reptile experts, said that this weekend’s discovery was “a punch in the gut” after spending months documenting species.  

Ennis found the “little miraclelast year while surveying the Tallaght area for potential pond sites as part of a project to link up urban amphibian hotspots in south Dublin.

‘Part of a planned process’

Yesterday, the Council admitted that it was responsible for the dumping of material on the site as “part of a planned process” to remove silt and rubbish from man-made lakes in the park.

While the Council said that it would “immediately review” the practice of silt disposal, it added that best practice “dictates that the material removed is placed as close to the origin as possible”. 

Following a request from The Green News for details of any planned investigation on the case, the Department of Heritage – the parent body of the NPWS – said that the wildlife service’s investigations unit has contacted the Council and is currently awaiting a response.

“Further comment at this point would be both prejudicial and premature,” the Department said, adding that the issue remains a matter in the first instance for the Council.

The Council has agreed to issue a new statement providing further details of events following a meeting of the Tallaght Area Committee yesterday afternoon, according to the committee chair Councillor Mick Duff.

“South Dublin County Council have agreed, at the demand of the Tallaght Area Committee, to issue a new statement, admitting it was wrong and outlining what they will do to rectify the situation.

“Officials were very clear that they made a mistake,” he said on Twitter. The Council has yet to issue any additional statement.

Green Party Councillor Liam Sinclair, who also attended the meeting, said he was “disappointed” by the Council’s first statement on the matter as it failed to “acknowledge the importance of the [wetland] area”.

He added that the statement was a “missed opportunity” to engage locals on the issue and that it was “unnecessary for the Council to try and defend themselves”.

“Like lots of residents around the area, [I] was heartbroken when I saw the images on Twitter, it was like getting a blow to the solar plexus,” he said.

“What we’re looking for now from the Council is how this was allowed to happen, who did the work and we want guarantees [about] what steps are going to be put in place to ensure that this remains a wetlands area,” he added.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London