Proposed new Bray bridge poses serious risk to Bray Swan population

Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady has said attempts to downplay the dangers for swans in the harbour area of Bray due to overhead wires and the planned new transport bridge is unhelpful and not based on facts.

Deputy Brady said “There have recently been attempts to downplay the negative impact that the proposed new bridge over the River Dargle will have on the local swan population in Bray Harbour. I believe that this is unhelpful and not based on facts. In 2010 when I was a member of Bray Town Council, I raised the issue that many swans were flying down the river Dargle and rising up over the Dart bridge before hitting the overhead cables. It was estimated that between 50-60 swans had died or had been injured in the preceding years after hitting the lines.  

After working on the issue for over a year and raising it constantly at council level, action was finally taken to help address the issue. In 2011 Iarnród Éireann installed Bird Flight reflectors on the overhead Dart lines. These reflectors have helped reduce the risk the wires pose to the swans.

When I was campaigning in 2010 to get measures taken to protect the Swans, I spoke to many wildlife experts and they informed me of the serious risks for Swans due to their vision. Swan’s eyes are located on the sides of their head and they have extremely poor forward sight. It’s this poor forward sight which makes them very susceptible to flying into overhead power lines, the largest man-made cause of death and injury for them.

When I saw the proposed design of the new bridge over the Dargle I was shocked to see that the council gave no regard to the dangers that it poses for the Swans, despite putting forward motions on the council in 2010 of the dangers of the overhead wires and the need for action to be taken to help address the problem.

I was even more shocked when An Bord Pleanála ruled that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not required as part of the planning application for the bridge.

Deputy Brady concluded “It’s important that the facts relating to the dangers that cables and overhead wires pose for swans are known, acknowledged and mitigated for. Designing a bridge that will have a detrimental impact on the swans is one thing but pushing forward with it despite knowing all the risks is reckless. It’s unbelievable that An Bord Pleanála didn’t take these environmental concerns into consideration in their deliberations on the need for an EIA. This poor decision has forced a community into going to the High Court for a Judicial Review, this is something I fully support.”

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