Expert says greenway construction mitigation measures sufficient for freshwater pearl mussel

An aquatic ecologist says mitigation measures proposed during the construction of the south Kerry Greenway will be sufficient for the freshwater pearl mussel.

Kerry County Council is seeking permission to construct a 32-kilometre walk and cycleway from Glenbeigh to Renard; it is also seeking approval for a Compulsory Purchase Order for the lands needed.

This is the third week of An Bord Pleanala’s oral hearing on the project at Manor West Hotel, Tralee.

Kerry County Council denied repeated claims from Greenway Information Group barrister, Michael O’Donnell that there was an absence of consideration for the presence of the freshwater pearl mussel in the River Behy.

It is proposed to build a carpark as part of the greenway project adjacent to the river at Glenbeigh Head.
The hearing was told the mussel is sensitive to silt and needs very clean water.

Gerard Hayes, an aquatic ecologist for Malachy Walsh and Partners on behalf of the council, said he conducted a survey with a second ecologist along 300 metres of the River Behy over two days in the summer of 2017.

It was information from the National Parks and Wildlife Service that prompted the survey.

Mr Hayes said seven adult mussels were found in a 200 metre stretch; one adjacent to the proposed carpark and six more upstream from the site.

Mr Hayes said he didn’t have a licence to survey for juvenile mussels but said conditions in the river due to silt were unsuitable for regeneration of the species.

In relation to the proposed development, Mr Hayes said there are concerns for the mussels but the mitigation measure of a silt trap is sufficient.

Ecologist Patrick Ryan from Malachy Walsh and Partners on behalf of the council told the hearing the seven mussels have no relationship to those in the Killarney National Park Special Area of Conservation.