Fermoy Weir Remediation and Fish Bypass Channel

Cork County Council engaged TJ O’Connor & Associates in September 2019 to provide consultancy services for the Fermoy Weir Remediation and Fish Bypass Channel Project. Following a detailed review of over 100 submissions through a non-statutory public consultation with members of the public and local stakeholders, the main concerns, issues and a preferred option have been identified.

The preferred option will focus on the remediation of the existing infrastructure in conjunction with the construction of a new fish bypass channel as this option best satisfies the project objectives of reinstating the protected structure of the weir and millrace and the conservation objectives of the Blackwater Special Area of Conservation.

This follows the development of 10 potential options by the consultants that would facilitate the remediation of the Weir and incorporation of a fish bypass channel for consideration. Other options included remediating the existing fish pass, complete removal of the weir, in-river rock ramp, near natural bypass channel and rough channel pool bypass.

Before commencing preparation of a planning application and associated environmental studies and assessments for the scheme, the views and opinions of the public and relevant stakeholders were invited through a non-statutory consultation process.  Details of the proposed measures were made available on a dedicated website www.fermoyweir.ie.

The consultation was initially planned to remain open for an initial period of four weeks, however the closing date for receipt of submissions was subsequently extended by a further two weeks to 18th December 2020, due to difficulties highlighted by local stakeholders in relation to Covid-19 restrictions in place during the consultation period.

Over 100 submissions were received from the public and from key stakeholders and number of common issues were raised. These included requests that the Weir be fixed, that the entire Weir including the mill race section be reinstated and the existing fish ladder be restored. Submissions also included additional options; for example, a ramp arrangement similar to Chester Weir, incorporation of a freestyle kayak feature on the river and the installation of a hydroelectric scheme.

Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr. Mary Linehan Foley welcomed progress to date saying;
““Fermoy’s iconic Weir plays a central role in the town. It is a key piece of scenery, an important amenity for anglers and sporting groups, and an important part of the Blackwater River’s ecology. By prioritising an extensive public consultation process that adapted to the challenges presented by Covid 19 restrictions, Cork County Council has ensured that the local community have their voices heard in what will be a crucial development for the town. We have seen countless examples of towns and villages seeing dramatic improvements in the past year, as a result of Cork County Council working collaboratively with local communities and businesses. Taking on board local concern and providing a platform for feedback and the presentation of ideas by the public, Cork County Council is showing its commitment to serving the needs and interests of residents.”

Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey stated;
“Cork County Council is committed to ensuring the best social and economic outcomes for towns and villages in our remit. We have consistently seen how this can be successfully achieved by engaging directly with residents, businesses and community groups. Our ability, as an organisation, to deliver results is strengthened greatly by public participation and cooperation, which is seen in the results of the Fermoy Weir and Fish Bypass consultation process.”

Following the consideration of the report by Council the next step will include the further development of preliminary design proposals and the completion of an Appropriate Assessment (AA) screening for the project.