Carrigaline Water Activity Report Supports Request For Feasibility Study
Writes Ciaran Dineen
Local Councillors from the Carrigaline Municipal District (MD) have agreed with a report recommendation to request funding so that a feasibility study can be conducted in Carrigaline relating to the potential for water-based activities.
The call came at May’s meeting of the monthly MD, following the issuing of a report which provided an overview of the potential for recreational water sport facilities in the town, while also setting out the scope of works that would potentially be involved with creating formalised access to the water along the Owenabue Estuary.
In recent months, activity on the water has arguably never been higher following the establishment of the ‘Paddle the Owenabue’ kayaking group. Since the turn of the year, the number of people getting out on the water with kayaks has risen enormously, with regular excursions during the week and at the weekends.
Kayak fever has well and truly broken out and one of those to catch it has been Councillor Liam O’Connor (FG), who made the original request for a water sport report to be put together for Carrigaline. Commenting on the report, Cllr O’Connor stated that “it was great to see that there is an appetite in the Council for the provision of water-based infrastructure” and proposed that the MD should apply to the Outdoor Recreation Project Development fund to secure funding for a feasibility study to take place, which was the next step recommended by a council ecologist.
Councillor Seámus McGrath (FF), noted that opening up access to the water and making use of the resource for activities was something that councillors had been making the case for over many years, and supported the proposal to apply for funding through the outdoor recreation scheme. The report was also welcomed by Councillor Audrey Buckley (FF) and Ben Dalton O’Sullivan (Ind).
The overview of the report would indicate a preference for formal infrastructure to be developed in Drakes Pool/Rabbit Island, where lots of activity already takes places, with many launching kayaks and similar boating equipment from there now. Important features of the site which make it attractive for the Council is that there is a nearby carpark, it is linked to the Greenway, and there are no tidal issues, with continual access to the water.
On the downside, access to Drake’s Pool will require vehicular transport and at peak times there may not be sufficient space in the current carpark. The site is also a good distance away from both the local economies of Carrigaline and Crosshaven, which could prosper if a more centrally located site was instead developed.
This last point is one of contention, with many councillors and those that use the water keen to see a project that focuses on immediate access to the Owenabue from Carrigaline town centre. Earlier this year, Cllr O’Connor and Cllr McGrath had queried whether an unused slipway just beyond the former Abattoir site could be an option, only to be told that there were too many concerns relating to road infrastructure and capacity.
Other potential access points include areas via the Community Park, the Bridge on Cork Road and through the Owenabue Carpark, but all pose significant challenges that may prove to be quite costly according to the report. It was suggested that a stepped egress point would be required for locations such as these, as the steep embankment makes access more difficult.
Alongside the high cost of delivery, the major stumbling block that would appear to be an obstacle to opening up the waterfront are environmental concerns. The Owenabue Estuary is part of the Cork Harbour Special Protection Area (SPA), while other areas have been categorised under a Proposed Natural Heritage Area (pNHA). As a result, careful considerations have to be paid to wildlife and natural surroundings and will require an Appropriate Assessment down the line if the project is to progress.
The recommendation of the Cork County Ecologist is that for the proposal to go ahead, engagement with an ecologist is required at the earliest stage to examine overall feasibility of the project and advise in relation to design, appropriate location.
It was agreed that Senior Executive Officer, Nicola Radley would make the case for Carrigaline in an application to the fund, with the hope that a feasibility study can then take place.