Please help to stop this swan-trapping bridge in Bray

An anti-wildlife bridge is being planned in my home town of Bray. The image above shows the obvious issues with this design: vertical cables that will act like a net, causing swans to collide with cables as they try to fly through it.

If you want the people you elected to refuse to vote through this proposal, then show your support at a public meeting on Zoom to which all 32 councillors have been invited, next Thursday evening 28th April at 7pm.

You can request a link to this meeting by sending an email to SaveBray2021@gmail.com

The main problem to me is that both Wicklow Council and An Bord Pleanala have decided that an Environmental Impact  Assessment Report on the proposal is not required. In other words, they are saying that the risk of swans colliding with this bridge does not need to be properly and objectively analysed. This seems so wrong to me.

The Council carried out a screening process called an “Ecological Impact Assessment Report” which concluded that “the bridge will result in a minor loss of common terrestrial habitats and that there will be no significant impacts on fauna”. I cannot understand this conclusion, given that that over a hundred swans live in immediate proximity to the bridge. Why was the obvious risk of swans colliding with this bridge not considered or mentioned?

This is the reason why I, and others, believe that a full, detailed Environmental Impact  Assessment Report should be carried out.

Unfortunately, when this was reviewed by An Bord Pleanala, their report did not agree with the opinion of wildlife advocates like myself.

The An Bord Pleanala report mentions the swans as follows when discussing opposition to the bridge design: “One of the main issues relates to the design of the bridge and its potential to impact on the flight paths of Mute Swan, other bird species and bats. I note that this matter was not addressed specifically within the Ecological Impact Assessment. There may be a collision risk for bird species and bats having regard to the design of the bridge and the possible flight paths along the river. I consider that this issue is not in itself of a significant nature that would require the preparation of an EIAR. There are means of investigating and assessing the matter further under the Part 8 process.”

While An Bord Pleanala may not consider the issue of swan collisions to be “of a significant nature”, there are many wildlife advocates who absolutely disagree with this opinion.

The “Part 8 process” referred to is the process allowing the application of planning permission for projects by local authorities. Where a project is being progressed by a local authority, planning permission is applied for under Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001-2015. This procedure requires that notice of the proposed development be given in an approved newspaper and that a site notice be erected on the land on which the proposed development would be situated. After the expiration of the period during which submissions or observations may be made, a report is presented to the members of the council. This report contains, amongst other items, a list of the persons or bodies who made submissions, along with a summary of the issues raised by them and the chief executive’s response. This report recommends whether or not the proposed development should be proceeded with as proposed, or should not be proceeded with. Following consideration of the report, the proposed development may be carried out as recommended in the report, unless the local authority, by resolution, decides to vary or modify the development, otherwise than as recommended in the report, or decides not to proceed with the development.

So as far as I can see, An Bord Pleanala have just kicked the can down the road: they seem to be saying that they do not consider the risk of swan collision to be a significant issue, but that this may (or may not) be “investigated and assessed” further under the Part 8 process. The problem for concerned parties like myself is that this does still not allow space for a detailed, specific, review of the swan collision issue. It seems that all that will happens is that we will make submissions, and the chief executive will respond to those submissions. And if an inspector from An Bord Pleanala believes that “there may be a collision risk” but that “this issue is not in itself of a significant nature”, then why should we have any hope that the Council Chief Executive will take a different view?

The swans cannot speak up: they are Mute swans in name and in nature.

Please join with myself and others in supporting our objection to this bridge design. Please attend a public meeting on Zoom next Thursday evening.

You can request a link to this meeting by sending an email to SaveBray2021@gmail.com

 

5 Comments

  • Dolores Fairclough says:

    We should be cherishing our wildlife, not harming it. It’s such an unsightly looking bridge and totally out of character.

  • Evelyn Ryan says:

    Pete, the link to the email for the zoom tomorrow is not live, was it supposed to be? Plus, will the meetiing be open only to local electors or to everyone even outside the Council’s boundary?
    Evelyn (Fingal CC resident)

    • petethevet says:

      I understand that if you send that email to that address, you will be given a zoom link that will only go live at the time of the meeting tomorrow night. And I believe this is a public meeting, open to all. Thank you for your support. Pete

  • G McManus says:

    Hi, I live in the Little Bray area. Yesterday evening (27 April), having received a flyer through the letter box shortly beforehand, I requested a link for this zoom – the person who responded said it was ‘over subscribed’… this has never happened before – Can you please let me know if this is still the case or if you can get me on it – Kiind Regards & thank you.

  • Ann C Daly says:

    Thank you Pete for getting involved in this cause. The Swans bring such joy. I cannot believe humans can be so stupid, indifferent & cruel proposing such a “catchment”, bridge. Its one of the most stupid things I’ve ever seen. Depressing! I went to meeting. Now up to the 32 Wicklow councillors I understand on a vote.

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