At a time when “re-wilding” and “bio-diversity” are the key themes of environmentalists and the public alike, Fingal Co. Council went completely off-script with the shearing of the Howth tramlines walkway, that connects Howth summit to the village.
A refuge for visitors and locals, this natural habitat is a feast for the senses and more importantly has been home to hedge sparrows, field mice, wrens, robins, meadow pipits, pine martens and shrews, the last of which are endangered.
However, Fingal’s recent handywork to maintain the walkway, saw it commission a local contractor to cut back the growth on either side of the pathway, with the result that the area has been denuded of much of what has made it a reserve for nature.
Nicole Dunne, who runs the Howth Foraging walking tours, said the works were devastatingly excessive, especially given that now is nesting season. “There was absolutely no need for this big tractor to come along and literally annihilate everything.”
According to Fingal, it inspected the area on foot of complaints from the public and “found that the sides of the tramway path were encroaching and briars were visibly hanging at head height.”
The council told the contractor to trim back the encroaching vegetation to make the walkway safe for pedestrian use and cutting 600m of the 1.3km trail in the process.
No one doubts the excellent work that Fingal does in maintaining facilities and keeping the area clean but it is hoped that the council will also learn from their mistakes and show greater sensitivity for a natural environment so dear to locals, visitors and Mother Nature.
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