We are raising funds to save a pocket of rare and valuable habitats in County Cork, Ireland, that is threatened by the proposed M28 motorway. The motorway has been granted planning permission and can only now be stopped by a judicial review in the High Court, scheduled for February 2019. Our legal team has told us that we have a very strong case, and we are raising funds through this campaign to pay the legal costs.
The habitats are in a disused limestone quarry – Raffeen Quarry (sometimes called Ballyhemiken Quarry). The proposed route of the M28 would pass directly through the quarry, completely destroying the habitats.
Our group, Friends of Raffeen Quarry, includes both professional ecologists and amateur naturalists with specialist knowledge of the species found in the quarry; we have been studying and recording wildlife in the quarry for many years. We are pressing for an alternative route to be used for the motorway, a few hundred metres to the south of the quarry; this alternative route had indeed been proposed in the original planning application for the motorway some years before. On the aerial photo, the route through the quarry is shown in red, and the original one that would avoid the quarry is in blue.
Raffeen Quarry supports rare habits and species, including several that are protected under Irish and EU law. These habitats have developed in the quarry during the decades that it has been out of use. They are in nationally important categories (including calcareous grassland, and a wetland and lake judged to be within the scope of Annex 1 of the EU Habitats Directive).
The list of wildlife in danger includes the Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Sand Martin, Spotted Flycatcher and Kestrel; dragonflies, damselflies, rare flowers, over 80 species of rare plants, the rare and protected Smooth Newt, and most importantly the Peregrine Falcon, which is afforded strict protection under both Irish and European Union law. Peregrine Falcons have regularly nested at the quarry since at least 2002; it is one of the few inland nest sites for peregrines in this part of Ireland.
These species colonised the quarry from the surrounding landscape along wildlife corridors (hedgerows and an abandoned and overgrown railway line) that are also threatened by the currently proposed motorway route. The quarry stands out as an area of abundant biodiversity within a locality that is now dominated by housing development, golf courses and species-poor agricultural fields. Its inhabitants represent the last remnants of the natural biodiversity of the area.
It is our hope that by preserving the quarry and the species that have made it their home, it can serve as a reservoir for the re-colonisation of the area under a more enlightened regime of land management, that puts more emphasis on biodiversity and on habitat creation and preservation.
The habitats that have developed in the Raffeen quarry are beyond price; the proposed route would destroy them forever. We request that the M28 revert to the original proposed route passing south of the quarry, to accommodate preservation of this habitat complex in situ. We can build the road somewhere else, but we cannot reconstruct the delicate and beautiful ecosystem of the quarry.
Thank you for your support!
- Jo Goodyear, B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc., MCIEEM, ecological consultant.
- Rodney Daunt, consultant on butterflies and other invertebrates and habitat identification (for, among others, National Biodiversity Data Centre, Cork County Council and Friends of Beaumont Quarry).
- Dr. Dara Fitzpatrick, B.Sc. (Hons), Ph.D (Trinity College), H.Dip. (Statistics), MRSC, MICI; Lecturer, University College Cork; Irish Wetland Bird Surveyor for Birdwatch Ireland.
- Ken Bond, B.A.(Hons), F.R.E.S. (Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London).
- Dr. Gordon Reid, retired senior lecturer, University College Cork.
Friends of Raffeen Quarry