Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has raised the anomaly regarding funding for dredging works with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine during an online meeting on fisheries issues.
Speaking after the meeting McGuinness said:
“I met with Minister Charlie McConalogue this evening and raised the urgent need for dredging at Cé Heilbhic. I explained to him the Catch-22 situation that his Department has created when it comes to funding local authorities to carry out dredging works.
Cé Heilbhic is a working fishing harbour and hosts the RNLI lifeboat station that serves Dungarvan Bay and adjoining waters. Over the past number of years a build up of sand and silt has meant that at low tides vessels are unable to enter or exit the harbour.
“It desperately needs to be dredged, however the Department will not fund the preparatory and licensing works that are required to take place before dredging can begin. These works can often be as expensive as the actual dredging, and Waterford City and County Council is reliant on support from the Department to fund them.
“While the Department is happy to fund dredging, at present they will not fund the essential preparatory work that is required, leading to a Catch-22 situation for Heilbhic.
“Meanwhile the problem is getting worse, fishing boats are being put in dangerous situations, and there are concerns about the ability of the lifeboat to launch in an emergency.
“I am glad that the Minister took my concerns on board and has undertaken to examine the regulations. My hope is that he adopts a sensible approach and amends the regulations to allow for preparatory work to be covered by the funding scheme.”