Category Archives: Howth/Beann Éadair

Public consultation on recognition of bathing waters

Fingal County Council is looking for input on identifying bathing waters in Fingal. Many heavily used bathing waters in the County are not recognised and therefore the water quality is not tested in accordance with the Bathing Water Directive. Untested waters include Balscadden Beach (below)

balscadden-beach-howth

High Rock Malahide (below)high-rock-malahide

and Broadmeadow Estuary, intensively used for dinghy sailing and kayaking.

Please respond to the consultation if you swim in any of these areas or in any other area.

Bathing water identification

Six submissions were received from the public in relation to identifying bathing waters in Fingal. The Council evaluated all of them and decided none of the waters qualified. I had proposed Balscadden Beach and the Broadmeadow Estuary.

In it’s evaluation, Balscadden Beach scored 64 points with a score of 65 required to qualify. Friends of Balscadden Beach will be appealing this ruling.

In relation to Broadmeadow Estuary, there is apparently a legal flaw in the Directive. The evaluation advises:

“The Bathing Water Directive does not recognise inland or coastal waters used for recreational purposes other than contact bathing. Water sports such as surfing, kayaking, or other recreational uses do not in themselves provide reason for identification as ‘bathing water’ unless supported by evidence of bathing within its normal context such as paddling, swimming, or similar water contact.”

I checked with the European Commission who agree with this interpretation. Even if not technically a bathing water it is essential that water quality here is monitored to protect public health and I will follow up.

Progress on link from Claremont Beach Promenade to Claremont Road

Subsequent to agreement at the Area Committee in 2015, the Council is now working on a design to link the promenade at Claremont Beach to Claremont Road, including renovating the public toilets at the beach.

This was the report to today’s meeting:

Howth Malahide Area Committee (Services A – Operational Matters)

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Councillor D. Healy – Fingal Coastal Way- Howth to Baldoyle. AI036624

“That the Chief Executive report on progress in relation to the following motion agreed at this Area Committee in April 2015:

“That the Chief Executive, as part of the Fingal Coastal Way, bring forward a plan for a pedestrian and cycle route from the West Pier along Claremont Beach promenade then by means of a boardwalk or other structure to join Claremont Road at the level crossing, continue along the right-of-way between the two sections of Claremont Road, follow Burrow Road to the level crossing and go down the right-of-way between Lauder’s Lane and also go behind Sutton railway station to link up with Baldoyle Promenade (thereby avoiding two level crossings), and that the possibilities for related improvements to the amenity of Claremont Beach including renovation/replacement of the public toilets provision of improved lifeguard facilities be included in this plan.”

Report:

Operations Department has employed a Consulting Engineering firm to carry out the following at Claremont Beach:

• A preliminary design and visualisation, with costs, for a boardwalk from the public toilet west, as far as Claremont Road.

• Outline design and costs for the foul water drainage of the public toilet. At present there is no foul drainage for the public toilet; tunnelling under the railway may be feasible.

• Advise on the rehabilitation of the public toilet (it is currently in a poor state of repair).

The Consulting Engineer’s Report is expected shortly and when to hand can be discussed with Committee members.

 

Arising from the report, the Committee agreed to my motion that the funding for this work be included in the Capital Programme.

Red and Grey Squirrels in the Howth Special Amenity Area

The issue of squirrels has recently had some media coverage and so I thought it worthwhile to give some background.

A few key facts:
  • Pine martens are associated with success for the red squirrel.
  • Red squirrels are recovering a lot of territory in Ireland they had lost to greys in tandem with the recovery of pine martens.
  • Red squirrels were (re-)introduced to Howth some decades ago.
  • Greys have been moving in which puts the reds at risk.
My  conclusions from this, which I will put to the SAAO Management Committee, are that the only  reasonable and justifiable actions in relation to squirrels would involve encouraging/reintroducing pine martens, if these are practical.
Much of the Howth peninsula is covered by a Special Amenity Area Order. The Management Committee, made up community, recreational and conservation representatives along with local councillors, works within the terms of the order to protect the biodiversity, landscape and amenity of the peninsula.
The questions I asked at the recent Area Committee are here and here
BBC Costing the Earth podcast Reds Return http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05pn674
Vincent Wildlife Pine Marten Recovery Project (Wales, England): http://www.pine-marten-recovery-project.org.uk/
NPWS documents:

Submission in relation to identifying Balscadden Beach as a bathing area

Fingal County Council, as required by EU regulation, consulted the public to identify locations where large numbers of people swim, so that the water quality at these locations can be tested.

Friends of Balscadden Bay made a detailed submission. I made the following brief submission:

Balscadden Beach is a historical swimming area in Howth.

It is heavily used by both local residents and visitors.

For the last two summers, at the request of local residents, Fingal County Council has sampled water quality at the beach and found it to be excellent on every occasion sampled.

Local swimmers use the beach every day throughout the year. Naturally it is particularly busy during good weather in the summer.

The beach previously had Victorian bathing cabins and has been visited by daytrippers from Dublin since the railway started in the mid-19th Century.

It is accessed by a public right of way from Balscadden road along steps provided by Dublin Corporation when Howth was within its jurisdiction. It is accessible by public transport (31 bus and Dart) and is near public car parking and toilets at the East Pier.

There is an organised swim and barbeque every summer by Friends of Balscadden Bay. This year, that will take place from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday 7th August.

There is also a long-standing traditional Christmas swim.

I attach some postcards/photographs covering the period from the late 19th century to July 2016. I took the most recent photograph myself.

1 balscadden postcard bw $_57 balscadden waterskiing  cleaning Balscadden Bay (FOBB)_1201Balscadden Bay Howth Saturday 16 July 2016

Where do you swim? Public Participation in the Identification of Bathing Waters

Under the Bathing Waters Directive and the Bathing Water Quality Regulations 2008 (SI No 79 of 2008) Fingal County Council must identify official bathing areas in our administrative area every year so that they can be monitored for safety, water quality and their level of use.

To help with this process, Fingal County Council is now asking people who swim at beaches and rivers to tell us if they think we should maintain the existing list of identified bathing waters and/or identifying any areas that are commonly used for swimming but not listed at the moment.

Among the popular swimming areas in Howth / Malahide Ward not currently recognised and tested as bathing waters are Balscadden Beach  in Howth and High Rock and Low Rock in Malahide. If you swim at these locations, please let the Council know.

To propose the Council recognise any well used beach not currently on the list or comment on an existing site please go to https://consult.fingal.ie/en/browse .

Meanwhile the occasional tests carried out by the Council at Balscadden and Ireland’s Eye happened again at the end of June. Both locations were identified as having excellent water quality. See results below.

Location Sampling Point Sample Number E. coli Enterococci Floating Materials Mineral Oil (visual) pH Phenols_Olfactory Salinity Surfactants Visual Inspection
MPN/100ml CFU/100ml pH PSU
(49934)  Balscadden Bay 27/06/2016  08:30 1163999 <10 <1 Absent Absent 8.1 Absent 33.4 Absent Normal
(49935)  Ireland’s Eye 27/06/2016  09:30 1164000 <10 <1 Absent Absent 8.1 Absent 33.5 Absent Normal