The major Claregalway flood scheme is currently under construction on the River Clare (Lough Corrib SAC). It is of significant concern that the only aquatic ecology survey work completed to inform the Appropriate Assessment for this €7m+ flood scheme was 2 kick samples – totally inadequate for a scheme of this magnitude. Crayfish surveys were attempted but the river was too high. No surveys of juvenile salmon or lampreys were undertaken despite these species being the key conservation interests of this SAC.
The scheme involves extensive dredging on the river – some of which was completed prior to the main scheme targeting silted areas on the margins and bends of the river (e.g. lamprey nursery habitat). This was cynically called “accelerated drainage maintenance” in the Environmental Impact Statement and Natura Impact Statement prepared for the scheme. Juvenile lamprey habitat was already limited on this river channel, and this SAC is designated for lampreys. However, these works went ahead in the absence of a baseline survey or any suitable mitigation for lampreys.
The River Clare is also designated for Atlantic salmon, and salmon do spawn in a number of areas along the affected stretch of river. Any angler who fish this stretch for trout knows that salmon parr are common. A species-specific survey for salmon was not undertaken and the dredging works will remove spawning habitat for salmon along this stretch – which is already limited as a result of historical drainage works.
We need to move away from these hard flood schemes to sustainable catchment-based flood management.
The environmental assessments completed for this scheme can be found at the link below.
Read more about the River Clare in this previous blog post on this website entitled ‘River Clare: A Highly Modified Natura 2000 river‘.