Tallaght wetland destruction a ‘punch in the gut’

Published by Niall Sargent on

September 22nd, 2019

The destruction of a popular wetland in the centre of Tallaght is a “punch in the gut” for the local community and biodiversity, a volunteer group of wildlife experts has said.

In a statement released on Facebook yesterday, the Herpetological Society of Ireland (HSI) said that a wetland located in the Sean Walsh Memorial Park close to Tallaght Stadium was a “vibrant multi-layered ecosystem”.

The group of amphibians and reptiles enthusiasts said that it was “completely heartbroken” to discover yesterday that the wetland was “completely destroyed”.

While the pond section is still largely intact, the rest of the wetland area was levelled and is now covered over with mud and silt.

The HSI found the site almost one year ago while surveying Tallaght for potential pond sites as part fo a project to link up existing populations of urban amphibians in the area.

A former waste ground and dumpsite for silt dredged from local ponds, the park regenerated naturally over many years and was, until this weekend, bursting with the likes of newts, frogs, bats and the critically endangered European eel.

The park was awarded a Green Flag last October by the mayor of South Dublin County Council for its high horticulture standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement.

HSI approached the Council about the site and its importance to local biodiversity, leading to the site’s inclusion in the draft Tallaght local area plan.

The draft plan outlines a key objective to enhance biodiversity and water management functions in the park. It was also planned for the wetland to be the flagship site for a new pond rehabilitation project within south Dublin green spaces.

Collie Ennis, a HSI science officer and lead on the wetland project, said that the destruction of the wetland was “a punch in the gut” after spending months of work documenting species and meeting with the Council.  “I’m completely heartbroken,” he said on Twitter yesterday.

Speaking to The Green News this morning, Mr Ennis said that the site was in perfect condition when the HSI took locals and councillors on a tour of the wetland site just weeks ago.

Arriving to undertake a routine survey yesterday, however, he discovered that the wetland had been “covered in mud and silt and levelled”.

Mr Ennis said that the Council has been “hugely supportive” of the amphibian project to date and doubts that any activity on the site was “malicious or cynical”.

The destruction, he said, was more likely a result of miscommunication somewhere within the local authority. “But that just isn’t good enough anymore,” he added.

“This kind of thing is happening on various scales nationwide all the time. Councils seem to have completely taken their eye off the ball when it comes to nature and biodiversity unless there’s a photo opportunity or a flashy Twitter campaign happening. We need to hold them to a higher standard,” Mr Ennis added.

“We at the HSI are asking for this site to be fully restored. It will take years to get back to what it was as thousands of animals and plants were buried or crushed in the process of whatever this was but it should be restored to the best of our ability and left to nature to take over again.”

There is no clear indication as to who carried out the activities at the site at this moment. The Council was contacted by The Green News for comment but did not reply by the time of publication.

Several councillors including Independent Alan Edge and the four Green councillors in the area are seeking answers from the Council as to what happened at the site.

“Heartbreaking, I lost a breath when seeing these scenes,” tweeted Councillor Liam Sinclair yesterday, adding he will “find out what happened” together with his Green colleagues.

Councillor Francis Duffy said that he has already send a letter to the Council to “seek clarity on how this was allowed to happen” and has requested “immediate remedy and restoration”.

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Categories: News

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