The Deep Sinking: Stretch of D15’s Royal Canal

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

For Christine ‘Moore, who has lived in Dublin 15 for 18 years, protecting the Royal Canal is a must.

In fact, Christine founded ‘Friends of the Deep Sinking’ Facebook group in 2021, as she was concerned about major housing developments and projects (Dart West, the Greenway and multiple SHDs), which were encroaching on the ‘Deep Sinking’.

“The Deep Sinking is a beautiful, unspoilt stretch of the Royal Canal, in D 15,” said Chris. “It is unique, and entails a 230-year-old stretch of canal, built through old quarries, that have since been reclaimed by nature. Unlike much of the canal, the tree canopy meets overhead and it has its own distinctive ecosystem. It does not appear, however, that this uniqueness is appreciated by Fingal County Council (FCC).”

“Having removed references to a protective 15 metre buffer (from development), in the draft Fingal Development Plan 2023-2029, the slow destruction of the Royal Canal continues in the draft Fingal Biodiversity Plan 2023-2030. Of the 100 proposed biodiversity actions – their aim being to protect the flora and fauna of Fingal – not a single action focuses on protecting the wildlife or integrity of the canal.

Photo – Mossy Kinehan

“In fact, of the 100 actions – of which there is only funding to support 30 actions (source FCC) – Dublin 15 does not feature in these 30 priority actions, which are heavily focused on coastal Fingal.” 

Chris complained that the Deep Sinking is not included at all, despite the wildlife listed as needing to be protected in Fingal’s rivers, also being present in the Royal Canal (otters, kingfishers and bats etc.).

“It is clear that FCC see the canal in purely functional terms – not as an area rich in biodiversity. Its location next to the Maynooth line, means the canal is targeted for high density building, Irish Rail bridges and the development of an Active Travel route to the city.”

She continued: “Despite its wildlife, FCC no longer appear to consider the canal as a wildlife area. It is simply not on the biodiversity radar, which is disgraceful.

“This contradicts FCC’s own Royal Canal Strategy which in 2008, proposed a 200 metre buffer from development, along the canal. In 2012, FCC even commissioned the BEC’s environmental report, which listed the abundant wildlife present from Castleknock to the Kildare border and outlined the unique ecosystem present in the Deep Sinking section of the canal.”

Having attended the first Biodiversity webinar, Christine was surprised that the Biodiversity Officer did not know the canal is not given the same protection as Fingal’s Rivers.

“Yet Fingal controls the strategy, the zoning and the buffer! It is obvious that the canal is not on the Biodiversity Officer’s radar – possibly because the Planning Department have it so high on theirs!”

In response to Christine’s criticism, Fingal County Council stated: ““The Fingal Draft Biodiversity Plan includes Action 19: Seek to establish an ecological corridor to link the Royal Canal, the Tolka River and the Liffey Valley.

“The idea behind this action is to prepare an ecological management plan for the Royal Canal, which will link the Tolka Valley at Ashtown with the Liffey Valley at Kellystown, Westmanstown and St Catherine’s Park.

“The plan also includes action 20 Seek to establish two wetland corridors between the river Liffey and the Royal Canal at Westmanstown and Action 23: Manage linear calcareous grassland strip along the Canal at Clonsilla.”

However, Christine sees the proposed introduction of 24/7 lighting and potential removal of hedgerows and grassy verges rich with wildflowers (for the greenway) along with deterioration of water quality and the increase in littering as seen at Clonsilla as threats to the stretch of water and its fauna and wildlife.

“With high density building so close to the banks, the huge development planned for south of the canal (Kellystown) – not to mention the fact the canal is a pNHA and part of our heritage, The Deep Sinking is slowly being destroyed by the council,” claims Christine.

“The wildlife currently in the canal, from Castleknock to Barberstown will vanish, over the next decade, if the biodiversity issue is not addressed. Change starts now. The Deep Sinking needs to be included in the Biodiversity Action Plan 2023-2030,” she concluded.

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