A PROPOSED shake up of council by-laws could see cars banned from driving on to one of Donegal’s busiest beaches.
Rossnowlagh is one of only two beaches in the county, along with Downings, that cars are allowed on to. But concerns over public safety surfaced during a recent spell of sunny weather when thousands of people flocked to the coastal village.
One councillor revealed how rubbish, including deck chairs, barbecues, food waste, glass bottles and nappies, was abandoned on Rossnowlagh beach over what was described as a “weekend of mayhem”.
At a meeting of Donegal County Council on Monday, Sinn Féin’s Noel Jordan asked if there was legislation contained within current by-laws to stop cars getting on to the beach at Rossnowlagh.
He said that in the interest of the general public, action needed to be taken.
“There were incidents in the last few weeks where there were thousands of cars on the beach and large numbers of vendors in what can only be described as utter chaos,” Cllr Jordan said.
“It is not only frightening when vehicles are entering the beach that there will be an accident but it is absolute mayhem when the vehicles are making for the exit.
“I know it is one of our busiest beaches in the county and I welcome all the people who come to use it but I do feel that council needs to come up with a plan to make it safe for the public.
“I am asking do our beach by-laws allow us to make it a car-free zone beach or would they allow us to designate car parking areas on certain parts of the beach,” Cllr Jordan asked.
He said that meetings had taken place at municipal district level where suggestions had been made about how the situation could be advanced. To date though they had “fallen on deaf ears”, Cllr Jordan claimed.
He called for a meeting involving all stakeholders, including residents, community leaders and the Rossnowlagh business community.
“Could I also ask that council identifies lands for alternative car parking near the beach and I would be asking our environment section to install their bins a bit earlier, possibly from Easter, and also have litter wardens there on a daily basis.
“Can I also ask for more signage indicating to people that if they can’t bin their rubbish, they take it with them because it isn’t fair that community groups have to carry out clean ups in this period where there are no bins installed.
“Rossnowlagh beach is one of the jewels in our county and I am convinced that if this dialogue does take place with the stakeholders and a firm plan put in place, it can remain so into the future,” added Cllr Jordan.
Donegal County Council’s Director of Service, Garry Martin, said it was obvious that the by-laws did need revamped. He said that the matter would be examined in detail in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile Cllr John O’Donnell has clarified plans for a boardwalk on the main beach at Downings.
He revealed last week that the boardwalk development would go ahead in time for summer 2018.
The walkway however will not render Downings beach out of bounds to vehicles. Instead the main entrance will be widened to allow the boardwalk to be built alongside vehicle access.
The boardwalk will then run the entire length of the beach, all the way over to Downings pier, Cllr O’Donnell confirmed this week.