Date: 18 th Dec.’22
Thank you for the opportunity to submit our observations and comments on the Draft Arterial Drainage Maintenance Activities 2022-2027 and associated SEA Environmental Report and AA Natura Impact Statement.
For the benefit of all we have summarized our points and are happy to expand on these further should you so wish. Can I further say that we are committed to working in partnership with the O.P.W in protecting, preserving and enhancing the River Moy S.A.C.
East Mayo Anglers Association was established to promote, protect, and enhance angling along the River Moy in East Mayo. We are focused on preserving our natural heritage in relation to salmon that exists in the Moy Valley.
Observations and comments to consider:
- Repeal the 1945 Arterial Drainage Act
Under section 37 of the Arterial Drainage Act 1945- it states the OPW is ‘statutorily obliged to maintain all rivers, embankments and urban flood defences on which it has executed works since the 1945 Act in ‘proper repair and effective condition’. This needs to be amended or replaced so that no agency can carry out the destruction of our natural heritage without any oversight and be free from impunity.
- Restoration of peatland once used for heating homes that are now left in a degraded state and continue to emit carbon while promoting flood events.
O.P.W should explore the idea of rewetting peatland adjacent to river courses. This would recreate habitat, act as a sponge to reduce flood risk events into the future while improving water quality though reduced sedimentation and nutrification of water through the release of nutrients from peatlands.
- O.P.W should be coerced to introduce nature-based solutions in dealing with flood management.
In the manner that funding now, so often comes with conditions, nature-based solutions should make up the majority and attract most of the funding in any future program of works.
- O.P.W serve our country in acquiring, protecting and maintaining building of historical importance.
Similarly, OPW estates should work with farmers in acquiring and restoring to nature lands situated in S.A. C’s, and if not should pay farmers fair and accountable grants to maintain them on our behalf and to the highest environmental standards.
- Be statutorily prevented from working in SAC areas without the input of all vested interests and a clear managed programme developed prior to any works rather than all works for that program.
- Establish an education centre in the Moy Catchment Area to develop best practice processes and bring all operatives up to speed on nature-based solutions and the detrimental effects of dredging substrate from rivers.
- Carry out survey works exploring the idea of re-establishing the natural flow of river courses thereby creating habitat, improving gravel substrate repositioning and allowing rivers to commence healing themselves.
- Implement a riparian zone set back aimed at establishing buffer zones along river courses.
- Cease their insistence that a 7-meter access area be maintained along river courses in S.A.C to enable them to gain access to dredge the river and carry out tree removal and habitat damage. This is a symptom of a singular and out-dated approach. Novel and innovative approaches need to be looked at in these measures.
- Offering to carry out gravel enhancement programmes to offset the destruction of habitat does little or nothing to offset the lasting damage caused by some of the OPW works.
- Work with N.G. O’s to promote native woodland programs aimed at re-creating, identifying and enhancing native woodland along our water courses.
- Remove the statutory responsibility to maintain an area of water where works were previously carried out. In other words, maintenance should not be compulsory.
- The Act uses the terms “proper repair and effective condition”. The performance criteria relate to the design standard of the original Scheme works, its condition and performance of the various watercourses, embankments etc. Failure to comply with these obligations would be contrary to the Drainage Acts and could lead to a “writ of mandamus” or an award of compensation arising from claims for damage to the benefiting lands. All the completed Arterial Drainage and Estuarine Embankment Schemes are now maintained under the statutory obligation. This statement ensures that nothing will change as the OPW will be in breach if they do not maintain the original works to the designed standard.
- Rather than presenting a singular document to cover all works proposed to be carried out in an S.A.C each year, a document and consultation at each work carried out in the SAC be carried out, like the obligation placed upon the EMAA club and other individuals and organisations. It is no longer acceptable that this practice continues as the habitat in which we all strive to protect deserves it.