Forward Planning To Make Coastal Risks a Thing Of The Past

Monday, 6 February 2012

A range of scientific resources and handbooks to facilitate better coastal planning will be launched at a national seminar in NUI Galway on Tuesday, 21 February.

The resources are the result of a three-year, €1.9 million project, funded by the EU which has assessed the extent to which coastal risks are currently considered in development plans. It appears that across Europe’s Atlantic countries, despite guidance from policy documents at national and European level to include considerations of coastal risks, existing development plans are lacking in this area.

Atlantic Europe is made up of 33 regions stretching across a coastline of 1,550 miles, home to around 70 million inhabitants. The Atlantic Network for Coastal Risk Management (ANCORIM) project, led by the Aquitaine regional council in France, focused on key issues of erosion, water quality and planning. Using existing scientific knowledge and legislative instruments the ANCORIM project - a collaboration of scientists and decision-makers from Ireland, Spain, Portugal and France - has developed a set of tools to improve the current situation.

A partner in the ANCORIM project, Dr Kevin Lynch of NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, explains the challenges faced by coastal communities: “Every year, in Ireland, we are reminded of the threats posed by coastal risks to our communities, their economies and our natural environment. During the winter months, this usually surfaces in stories of coastal erosion, flooding, and storm damage, while during the summer months emphasis switches to reports of poor bathing water quality or ‘red tides’.”

Examples of coastal erosion in Ireland are most pronounced in County Wexford, which has experienced coastline retreat of up to one meter a year in places. More recently, the seaside town of Strandhill in Sligo has been badly affected by erosion of its sand dunes following severe winter storms.

However, Dr Lynch points out that there are other potential hazards for coastal locations: “Examples of other risks that are not always on our radar, but could potentially have considerable socio-economic and environmental impacts, include major oil or chemical spills or ocean acidification impacts on calcifying organisms which play key roles in the oceanic food chain.”

The seminar on 21 February is aimed at all decision-makers involved in planning and managing our coast, including county planners, managers, engineers and councillors. Also invited are individuals and organisations who contribute to the decisions being made, such as county environmental or heritage officers, NGOs, local development groups, commercial enterprises and associations, as well as land and homeowners.

Mayo County Council, a project partner, recognises the need for better coastal planning and Iain Douglas, Senior Planner with the Council, points out: “Key to addressing issues of coastal risk is prevention, and clearly this is directly dependent on good forward planning – avoiding locating homes, businesses, infrastructure and the like in areas that are potentially very hazardous.”

The resources made available by the ANCORIM project (http://ancorim.aquitaine.fr/), include a range of practical guides and tool kits. A ‘Good Practice in Planning’ handbook, for example, sets out in a step by step manner details on how coastal risks may be incorporated into new development plans.

To build greater awareness among a broader audience two educational guides have also been produced, outlining what coastal risks are and the issues associated with them for local communities.

It is hoped that a combination of greater general awareness of coastal risks in conjunction with improved forward planning will reduce the potential impacts of these risks in the future.

To register for the seminar go to the Atlantic Network for Coastal Risk Management National Seminar website at www.conference.ie.

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                              Pleanáil chun cinn le deireadh a chur le Rioscaí Cósta

Ag seimineár náisiúnta in OÉ Gaillimh Dé Máirt, an 21 Feabhra, seolfar réimse acmhainní agus lámhleabhair eolaíochta chun pleanáil níos fearr don chósta a éascú.

Tagann na hacmhainní mar thoradh ar thionscadal trí bliana ar luach €1.9 milliún, a bhí maoinithe ag an AE. Rinne an tionscadal measúnú ar an gcaoi a ndéantar cúram do rioscaí cósta i bpleananna forbartha. In ainneoin treorach ó cháipéisí polasaí ag leibhéal náisiúnta agus Eorpach chun rioscaí cósta a chur san áireamh, is cosúil go bhfuil easpa den chineál eolais seo i bpleananna forbartha reatha ar fud thíortha Atlantacha na hEorpa.

Tá 33 réigiún san Eoraip Atlantach, agus cósta 1,550 míle ag baint leis na réigiúin chomh maith le daonra 70 milliún nó mar sin. Dhírigh an tionscadal Atlantic Network for Coastal Risk Management (ANCORIM), a bhí faoi stiúir chomhairle réigiúnach na hAcatáine sa Fhrainc, ar phríomh-shaincheisteanna a bhain le creimeadh, le caighdeán uisce agus le pleanáil. D’úsáid an tionscadal ANCORIM – comhoibriú idir eolaithe agus lucht déanta cinntí ó Éirinn, ón Spáinn, ón bPortaingéil agus ón Fhrainc – eolas eolaíoch agus ionstraimí reachtúla a bhí ann cheana féin chun tacar uirlisí a fhorbairt chun an staid reatha a fheabhsú.

Déanann an Dr Kevin Lynch ó Institiúid Uí Riain, OÉ Gaillimh, cur síos ar na dúshláin os comhair pobail cois cósta: “In Éirinn gach bliain, cuirtear i gcuimhne dúinn na bagairtí atá ann ó rioscaí cósta dár bpobail, a n-eacnamaíochtaí agus an timpeallacht nádúrtha.  Le linn mhíonna an gheimhridh, is iondúil go bhfeictear é seo sa chreimeadh cósta, tuile, agus damáiste ó stoirmeacha, agus le linn mhíonna an tsamhraidh athraíonn ár n-aird go dtí tuairiscí ar dhroch-chaighdeán uisce snámha nó blás algach.”

Is i gContae Loch Garman is mó atá creimeadh cósta le sonrú, áit a bhfuil cúlú cósta suas go méadar in aghaidh na bliana ag tarlú in áiteanna. Le déanaí, tá droch-chreimeadh le sonrú ar dhumhcha sa Leathros, baile cois cósta i Sligeach, tar éis stoirmeacha fiáine an gheimhridh.

Deir an Dr Lynch, áfach, go bhfuil contúirtí eile ann d’áiteanna cois cósta: “I measc na rioscaí eile, nach mbímid ar an airdeall fúthu i gcónaí ach a d’fhéadfadh tionchar suntasach socheacnamaíoch agus comhshaoil a bheith acu, tá doirteadh ola nó ceimiceán nó na héifeachtaí atá ag aigéadú aigéin ar orgánaigh chailcithe a mbíonn ról tábhachtach acu sa bhiashlabhra aigéanach.

Tá an seimineár, a bheidh ar siúl an 21 Feabhra, dírithe ar lucht déanta cinntí atá bainteach le pleanáil agus le bainistíocht ár gcósta, lena n-áirítear pleanálaithe, bainisteoirí, innealtóirí agus comhairleoirí contae. Tá cuireadh freisin ag daoine aonair agus ag eagraíochtaí a chuireann leis na cinntí a dhéantar, mar shampla oifigigh chomhshaoil nó oidhreachta, eagraíochtaí neamhrialtais, grúpaí áitiúla forbartha, fiontair agus cumainn tráchtála, chomh maith le húinéirí talún agus tí.

Is comhpháirtí sa tionscadal é Comhairle Contae Mhaigh Eo, agus aithníonn sé an gá atá le pleanáil cósta níos fearr agus deir Iain Douglas, Pleanálaí Sinsearach leis an gComhairle:  “Cosc a chur le rioscaí cósta an bealach is fearr chun déileáil leo, agus is cinnte go bhfuil sé seo ag brath go hiomlán ar phleanáil chun cinn – gan tithe, gnólachtaí, infreastruchtúr agus a leithéid a chur i limistéir a d’fhéadfadh a bheith i mbaol.”

Tá réimse leathan treoracha praiticiúla agus uirlisí curtha ar fáil ag an tionscadal ANCORIM (http://ancorim.aquitaine.fr/ ). Leagann an lámhleabhar ‘Good Practice in Planning’ amach céim ar chéim conas rioscaí cósta a chur san aireamh i bpleananna nua forbartha.

D’fhonn feasacht níos mó a chothú i measc pobal níos leithne tá dhá threoirleabhar oideachasúla curtha ar fáil chomh maith. Déantar cur síos iontu ar a bhfuil i gceist le rioscaí cósta agus na saincheisteanna a bhaineann leo do phobail áitiúla.

Mar gheall ar an bhfeasacht ghinearálta níos fearr atá ar rioscaí cósta agus pleanáil chun cinn níos fearr, táthar ag súil go laghdófar tionchair a d’fhéadfadh a bheith ann de bharr na rioscaí sin sa todhchaí.

Chun clárú don seimineár téigh chuig an láithreán gréasáin do sheimineár náisiúnta an Atlantic Network for Coastal Risk Management ag www.conference.ie.   

-críoch-

Keywords: Earth & Ocean Sciences, Geography

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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