Newts and rare butterflies in danger from dumping

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

MEMBERS of the Irish Wildlife Trust went to Gooig bog in Castleconnell to carry out a newt survey, instead they surveyed mattresses, nappies, clothes, sofas and lots more household rubbish.

MEMBERS of the Irish Wildlife Trust went to Gooig bog in Castleconnell to carry out a newt survey, instead they surveyed mattresses, nappies, clothes, sofas and lots more household rubbish.

After witnessing the rubbish on the day, Anneke Vrieling, who lives in Abbeyfeale, wrote to Limerick County Council and contacted the Leader.

“The workshop included a nature walk at the bog. We saw newts but we also saw litter, loads and loads of litter. In fact, it was like walking on a landfill site.

“It is an area of raised bog with bog pools - scarce habitats that are very important for wildlife like the green hairstreak and large heath butterfly, which is declining in Europe, and the black darter dragonfly. 

“It was just shocking to see a nature area so unbelievably badly littered. The litter was more or less continuous on either side of the bog road,” said Ms Vrieling.

She sent on two photos which she says only gives an “impression” of the amount of litter.

“I do hope action is taken soon. If left like this, it would be giving out the message to people that it is OK to create a landfill site wherever they please, even on nature areas,” said Ms Vrieling.

“The Irish Wildlife Trust picked that site but they didn’t know about the litter. They were shocked as well,” added Ms Vrieling, who is originally from Holland.

Ironically, she says many people travel from the continent to Ireland because it is so green.

In their reply, the council said: “We have previously carried out investigations in this area, erected signage and also placed CCTV cameras there in an effort to tackle the ongoing illegal dumping activity on these lands. Any solution to the problem will involve the relevant landowners agreeing on a system of restricting access to the area.”

Cllr Michael Sheahan first raised the issue of dumping in Gooig bog two years ago and he says a solution is in sight.

It is understood the problem arose as a result of the opening up of the old bog road at both ends due to the construction of the M7. This meant that people could drive straight through and dump their rubbish.

Cllr Sheahan said Michael Murphy, of the Castleconnell Historical Society, raised the issue with him and the two have been working on a resolution.

They decided that the road needs to be fenced off at both ends to prevent access to dumpers but still allow walkers and bog owners entry.

“All the bog owners were visited and agreed to a plan to put a gate at both ends with a key for the stake holders. They have signed a petition agreeing. Everybody co-operated and now the council will put up the two gates to prevent any further tipping

“The problem of removing the rubbish will then be addressed and the council are prepared to co-operate with all interested parties in the Castleconnell area in organising a once off and hopefully final clean up off the bog to bring it back to its pristine state,” said Cllr Sheahan, who hopes there will be a further extension of the Sli na Slainte route and thus increase the tourist potential of Castleconnell.