Concern over scale of OPW works at Ward River Valley in Swords

by Sylvia Pownall
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There have been calls for the Ward River Valley in Swords to be designated a National Heritage Area amid concerns over the removal of several trees.

Conservationists are questioning ‘heavy-handed’ maintenance along the river, known locally as the ‘Jacko’, east of Knocksedan bridge by the Office of Public Works (OPW).

Swords Woodland Association wrote to the OPW outlining its fears over the number of trees being removed and the “general lack of information about your operations there”.

In an email, it also queried whether new trees will be planted to replace those removed, pointing out that cutting hedgerows and trees is prohibited during nesting season.

Cllr Joe Newman (Ind) has also raised concerns and is backing calls for the Brackenstown and Knocksedan woodland to be declared a National Heritage Area.

He contacted the OPW and has now called on the council to inform the public as to the extent of the works and any future works that will affect park users.

He told Dublin Gazette: “I have also asked the council to erect signage in this area as a matter of health and safety.”

A spokesperson for the local authority confirmed: “Fingal County Council was informed that arterial drainage works were to be carried out in the Swords area.”

However, Dublin Gazette understands that the council was not aware of the full extent of the works and has requested further dialogue with the OPW.

The OPW said the section of the River Ward in question forms part of the Broadmeadow and Ward arterial drainage scheme, and was scheduled in its 2019 maintenance programme.

A spokesperson said: “Work includes the removal from the channel of debris and overhanging branches which are obstructing the flow of the river. No dredging of the river is taking place.”

The spokesperson added that a banks man was put in place to maintain a health and safety zone around the working area and smaller machinery was deployed to minimise impact on park grounds.

The statement added: “Due to soft underground conditions in the area, some of the ground has been cut up and reseeding has already been carried out. Any further reseeding requirements will be addressed prior to the completion of the works.

“The park is under the remit of Fingal County Council and notification of the planned works was submitted to the council before the works commenced.”

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