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mcrtchly
2011-03-04 22:43:43
Path Remediation
Just a follow on to dhmiraim about works in the Mournes, I doubt an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) was required under EU directives as the development is too small. The Planning Service of Northern Ireland list suggested thresholds for EIA for certain developments but none for paths. The closest would be for roads where they state:

"Construction of roads, railways (including elevated and underground) and tramways. A21 For linear transport schemes, the likelihood of significant effects will generally depend on the estimated emissions, traffic, noise and vibration and degree of visual intrusion and impact on the surrounding ecology. EIA is more likely to be required for new development over 2 km in length."

The Annalong Valley is an SAC (Special Area of Conservation) under the EU Habitats Directive and is part of the National designation of an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). The Habitats Directive allows for remediation works for the protection of designated species of flora but I have not seen any reference to conservation of Annex 1 species in the works being undertaken there. Thus the Mourne Heritage Trust has not as far as I can see justified the works under the Habitats Directive.

The management plan of the Mournes AONB (see http://www.mournelive.com/documentbank/uploads/Towards_a_Mourne_AONB_Management_Plan.pdf) does allow for “…path erosion, repair and remedial action within a structure which allows remedial footpath repair to be undertaken on an on-going basis”. There is no mention of consultation for works in the management plan as far as I can see. Perhaps there is a case for a revision of the management plan to include consultation in which case there should be some lobbying of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) to include such consultation (email cdp@doeni.gov.uk)

On a practical basis I have walked in the Mournes in all seasons and the most challenging of which is during the winter months. In the winter you would think that the most dangerous parts of the hills were the high tops. But in my mind the most dangerous part I have encountered ever in the Mournes is the ‘remediated’ steps on the upper part of Glen River path when they are covered with ice in winter. These steps are purely the result of ‘remediation’ works. Due to the dangerous ice on the steps I can only safely traverse them in winter when wearing crampons. I notice that others (probably walkers without crampons) are forced to take the even more dangerous route across the slope of the hillside to avoid the steps in winter. Where’s the common sense here? It would seem in such cases that ‘remediation’ is very much a threat to human safety.
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