An oyster farm in a scenic Donegal bay will strangle the area, local residents have claimed.
The Loughros More Bay SAC Conservation Group are concerned at a proposal by the Department of Agriculture to grant aquaculture licences to permit the farming of oysters in the area outside Ardara known locally as Carn and Ranny.
The proposed development, which could cover 400 acres of the bay, would be clearly visible from the main Ardara/Portnoo road.
Speaking to the Donegal News local resident Mr Paul Boyle, who is also a spokesman for the Conservation Group said that, taken together, the oyster trestles would form a necklace across the top of the bay, strangling any other use.
“As a resident of Carn, I strongly object to the granting of this licence and/or any aquaculture that may take place in the area. As the Department acknowledge, this is a Special Area of Conservation, not to mention an area of Especially High Scenic Amenity.
“I find it incredible that a Government department would even consider a development of this nature while also trying to promote the virtues of the Wild Atlantic Way.
“I also take exception to the opaque and underhanded manner in which the Department has handled this process so far. As a member of the Carn community, we were made aware of this more by accident that design. It was clearly the Departments intention to keep the entire process under wraps until the lorries started rolling in. They even had the audacity to issue a ‘draft’ conclusion well before any public consultation,” Mr Boyle said.
The Loughros More Bay SAC Conservation Group has contacted local Councillors and TDs about the proposed development.
“It’s the first they have heard about the plans. There were a number of historical applications to develop that area, some dating back sixteen years or more, back to a time when it was deemed the bay was not suitable for aquaculture.
“The goalposts have since been moved and it would now appear that it’s part of a new government drive to increase production from that sector and increase exports. When I enquired with the department I was told that there would be a consultation process getting underway in a few weeks but my concern it that it could already be a foregone conclusion by then,” he said.
“The Carn road is simply not capable of handling the traffic that an oyster farm would generate.”
He said: “This project does not have one positive attribute. It does not generate any quality full time employment; it will destroy the natural habitat of the bay by introducing foreign species; it will destroy the aesthetics area of Especially High Scenic Amenity and it will destroy the quality of life for the residents due to constant increased traffic volume on roads that cannot sustain it. And all to produce a product that is immediately exported,” Mr Boyle said.
“I think it’s ironic that in the same year the local draft fishermen were prevented from fishing the channel that they the decide to re-active oyster licences,” he added.
According to the most recent Department of Agriculture ‘Draft Appropriate Assessment Conclusion Statement’, updated in July 2018, the proposed licensing of aquaculture is not likely to significantly and adversely affect the integrity of the West of Ardara/Maas Road SAC.
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