Ecological Impact Assessment & provision of information for Appropriate Assessment Screening & Natura Impact Statement Re: a proposed housing ...

 
Ecological Impact Assessment & provision of information for Appropriate Assessment Screening & Natura Impact Statement Re: a proposed housing ...
Ecological Impact Assessment
  & provision of information for
Appropriate Assessment Screening
                &
    Natura Impact Statement

Re: a proposed housing development at
Ballyleary, Great Island, Cobh, Co Cork.

                  For
           Mr Seamus Geaney

               May 2018
Ecological Impact Assessment & provision of information for Appropriate Assessment Screening & Natura Impact Statement Re: a proposed housing ...
Revision   Report Reference      Description          Author(s)       Checked     Date
                                                                        by
   A       RP17-GW123-09-A    EcIA & AA            L. J. Lewis & R.     LJL     November
                              Screening - Draft    Macklin                        2017
   B       RP18-GW123-07      EcIA & Natura        L. J. Lewis & R.     LJL     May 2018
                              Impact Statement -   Macklin
                              Draft
Ecological Impact Assessment & provision of information for Appropriate Assessment Screening & Natura Impact Statement Re: a proposed housing ...
CONTENTS
1.0    INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................................1
       1.1 Introduction ....................................................................................................................1
2.0    METHODS ...............................................................................................................................2
3.0    DESCRIPTION OF THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT..................................................................9
       3.1 Site location ....................................................................................................................9
       3.2 Project details ...............................................................................................................10
       3.3 Measures to protect surface waters from contamination ...........................................11
4.0    BASELINE ECOLOGY ..............................................................................................................14
       4.1        Identification of Natura 2000 sites ..........................................................................14
       4.1.1      Cork Harbour SPA (4030) – designation details .......................................................14
       4.1.2      Cork Harbour SPA (4030) – conservation objectives ...............................................16
       4.1.3      Great Island Channel SAC (1058) – designation details ...........................................17
       4.1.4      Great Island Channel SAC (1058) – conservation objectives ...................................19
       4.2        Baseline ecology of the proposed development site ..............................................20
       4.2.1      Habitats ....................................................................................................................20
       4.2.2      Birds .........................................................................................................................22
       4.2.3      Mammals .................................................................................................................23
       4.2.4      Aquatic ecology of the stream/drainage ditch ........................................................25
       4.2.5      Alien, Invasive species..............................................................................................27
       4.2.6      Ecological evaluation of on-site ecology ..................................................................28
       4.2.7      Key Ecological Features............................................................................................30
5.0    ECOLOGICAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT .....................................................................................31
       5.1        Potential impacts of the proposed development ....................................................31
       5.1.1      Potential impacts upon designated sites .................................................................31
       5.1.2      Potential impacts .....................................................................................................31
       5.1.3      Cumulative impacts .................................................................................................32
       5.1.4      The ‘do-nothing’ impact...........................................................................................32
       5.2        Mitigation measures and recommendations...........................................................33
6.0    AA SCREENING ASSESSMENT................................................................................................35
7.0    PROVISION OF INFORMATION FOR STAGE 2 APPROPRIATE ASSESSMENT...........................41
       7.1        Assessment of potential impacts and identification of mitigation measures .........41
       7.2        AA Stage 2 Conclusions ............................................................................................44
8.0 REFERENCES & LITERATURE CONSULTED .................................................................................48
       APPENDIX 1 ...........................................................................................................................51
       APPENDIX 2 ...........................................................................................................................54
       APPENDIX 3 ...........................................................................................................................55
Ecological Impact Assessment & provision of information for Appropriate Assessment Screening & Natura Impact Statement Re: a proposed housing ...
Figures

     Figure 1             Site location map

     Figure 2             Site boundary map

     Figure 3             Proposed site layout

     Figure 4             Cork Harbour Special Protection Area

     Figure 5             Great Island Channel Special Area of Conservation

     Figure 6             Habitat map

Note that this report contains figures based on Ordnance Survey Ireland data. This report is intended for use by
An Bord Pleanála and Cork County Council only and cannot be reproduced or published without an appropriate
 OSI Licence number. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Ordnance Survey Ireland and Government of Ireland
                                                   copyright.
Ecological Impact Assessment & provision of information for Appropriate Assessment Screening & Natura Impact Statement Re: a proposed housing ...
Limosa Environmental

1.0       INTRODUCTION

          1.1       Introduction

Limosa Environmental was commissioned to undertake Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA)
and to prepare information that is required by the competent authority (in this case Cork
County Council) in order to undertake Appropriate Assessment, for a proposed housing
development at Ballyleary, Great Island, Cobh, Co. Cork.

Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) is the process of identifying, quantifying and evaluating
the potential effects of developments upon habitats, flora and fauna (CIEEM, 2016). The
obligation to undertake Appropriate Assessment arises from Articles 6 (3) and (4) of European
Union (EU) Council Directive 92/43/EEC (Habitats Directive) and transposed into Irish law by
the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations S.I. No 477 of 2011.
Screening is the first stage of an Appropriate Assessment (AA) and aims to establish whether
a proposed plan or project (in this case a project) either alone or in combination with other
plans or projects, could have significant negative effects on a Natura 2000 site in view of the
site’s conservation objectives. At Stage 2 (Appropriate Assessment), the impact of a project
or plan alone and in combination with other projects or plans on the integrity of the Natura
2000 site is considered with respect to the conservation objectives of the site and to its
structure and function (DoEHLG, 2009).

Natura 2000 sites are Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) designated under the EU Habitats
Directive,1 and Special Protection Areas (SPAs), designated under the EU Birds Directive.2 As
signatories to these Directives, Ireland like other EU Member states, has designated prime
areas of ecological importance as SACs and SPAs and these are part of a network of sites of
‘community importance’ for biodiversity across the EU called the ‘Natura 2000’ network.

The proposed site lies close to the Cork Harbour Special Protection Area (SPA Site Code 4030).
The information in this report forms part of, and should be read in conjunction with, the
documentation being submitted to the competent authority in connection with the proposed
development.

1 Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and wild flora and fauna, as amended by
Council Directive 97/62/EC. The Directive was transposed into Irish law by the European Communities (Natural
Habitats) Regulations, SI 94/1997 which were amended and later consolidated by the European Communities (Birds
and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 – 2015 (S.I. 355/2015).
2 Directive 2009/147/EC (Birds Directive) on the conservation of wild birds (the codified version of Council Directive

79/409/EEC as amended).

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2.0       METHODS

This study involved undertaking a desktop review and a baseline field assessment, which are
described in the relevant sections below. AA Screening methodology is described separately.

     Identification of Natura 2000 sites

Natura 2000 sites within a 5km radius of the proposed development site were identified.

     Desk top Study

A desk top study was undertaken and sources of information included the following:
            - online data held by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)
                (www.npws.ie) including locations and boundaries of Natura 2000 sites;
            - Data from the Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS);
            - South Western River Basin District Management Plans (SWRBD, 2010a,b);
            - National Biodiversity Data Centre (www.nbdc.ie);
            - Cork County Biodiversity Action Plan (Cork County Council, 2009);
            - County Cork Development Plan (Cork County Council, 2014, 2014b).

     Consultation

Consultation was undertaken with the NPWS (Development Applications Unit) and Cork
County Council Heritage Unit.

     Site visits

      1. A habitat/botanical survey site carried out on 16th June 2017. Habitats within the
         proposed site were identified, classified and mapped according to ‘A guide to habitats
         in Ireland’ (Fossitt, 2000). Particular attention was directed at identifying the
         presence of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) and where found these were recorded as
         follows:

                     - Species present;
                     - Central grid reference (hand-held GPS);
                     - Habitat occupied by IAS, and adjacent habitats;
                     - Habitat quality of IAS stand (e.g. healthy and thriving, recently cut,
                    trampled);
                     - A photographic record was made of each observation.

          The conservation status of habitats and flora was also considered. The conservation
          status of habitats and flora within Ireland and Europe is indicated by inclusion in one
          or more of the following: Irish Red Data Book for Vascular Plants (Curtis & McGough
          1988); Flora Protection Order (1999; as amended (2015); the EU Habitats Directive
          (92/43/EEC).

      2. A breeding bird survey was undertaken on 16th June 2017 (0900-1000 hrs). As the site
         is large and open, with many of the birds likely to be associated with site boundaries,
         a transect method was considered unsuitable as birds on the site boundaries may be

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Ecological Impact Assessment & provision of information for Appropriate Assessment Screening & Natura Impact Statement Re: a proposed housing ...
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       missed. Instead a method used for parks was followed (set out by Chamberlain et al.
       (2007). During the visit, the observer (LJL) walked along a survey route that took her
       to within 20m of every point of the site. All bird species seen and heard were
       recorded. Birds flying over and obviously not interacting with the site were recorded
       separately. This survey methodology is now used widely and has been used previously
       at St Stephen’s Green (McAvoy & Crowe, 2012; Lewis & Whelan, 2016) and the
       Phoenix Park (Crowe, 2011).

    3. During the habitat survey on 16th June 2017, all lands within the site were assessed
       for their use by mammal species. This included looking for dens, burrows, tracks,
       droppings and feeding signs.

    4. An aquatic survey was undertaken by Ross Macklin (Aquatic/Fisheries Ecologist) on
       27th June 2017 in order to appraise a drainage channel/ stream habitat bordering the
       north western boundary of the site and running parallel to the local road.

   Ecological Impact Assessment

Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) process has three main steps:

    1. Ecological evaluation – this step consists of evaluating each ecological resource (e.g.
       habitat, population, or species) within the zone of influence (area to be affected)
       using the criteria outlined in Table 1a (based on a geographic hierarchy of
       importance). Each ecological resource is given an evaluation value (ranking) as
       described in Table 1b.
    2. Impact (Affect) prediction - based on information provided on the proposed
       project/development, this step aims to identify all direct and indirect impacts that
       may affect the ecological features in the zone of influence, and wider area. Table 1c
       gives impact terminology as per the EPA (2017).
    3. Assessment of the magnitude of impact - impact magnitude refers to the ‘size’ or
       ‘amount’ of an impact/ affect (IEEM, 2006; EPA, 2017). The magnitude of an impact
       will depend on the nature and sensitivity of the ecological features and will be
       influenced by intensity, duration (temporary/permanent), timing, frequency and
       reversibility of the potential impact (CIEEM 2016). Levels of impact magnitude are
       given in Table 1d. Magnitude terminology is based on EPA (2003) while the rationale
       for assigning level of significant impact follows CIEEM (2016). Importantly, this step
       aims to identify the impacts which may be significant upon ‘important ecological
       features’ (CIEEM, 2016).

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Ecological Impact Assessment & provision of information for Appropriate Assessment Screening & Natura Impact Statement Re: a proposed housing ...
Limosa Environmental

Table 1a. Criteria for ecological evaluation

          Evaluation criteria                              Definitions and Notes

  Site designations                  Designated areas for conservation are areas that are
                                     designated under national and/or European laws in order to
                                     conserve habitats and species of national or international
                                     conservation importance. These include:
                                              Natural Heritage Areas (NHA): a national designation
                                               given legal status by the Wildlife Amendment (2000)
                                               Act.
                                              Special Areas of Conservation (SAC): areas considered
                                               of European and national importance whose legal basis
                                               is the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), transposed
                                               into Irish law through the European Union (Natural
                                               Habitats) Regulations, 1997.
                                              Special Protection Areas (SPA): sites of conservation
                                               importance for birds whose legal basis is the EU Birds
                                               Directive (209/147/EC).
                                              Wildfowl Sanctuary: designated under the 1976
                                               Wildlife Act.
                                              Ramsar Site: European designation based on the
                                               Ramsar Convention, 1984.
  Species designations/criteria      Certain legislation refers directly to species/populations (e.g.
                                     annexed species):
                                              Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of
                                               Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora.
                                              Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the Conservation of
                                               Wild Birds (‘Birds Directive’).
                                              Bern Convention on the Conservation of European
                                               Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
                                              The Wildlife Act (1976) and the Wildlife (Amendment)
                                               Act (2000).
                                              Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland (Colhoun &
                                               Cummins, 2013).
                                              Red Data Books (e.g. Wyse-Jackson et al. 2016)
                                              Flora (Protection) Order, 2015.
  Size                               Includes both size of habitats (area) and population size of
                                     individual species and is intrinsically linked to other criteria such
                                     as rarity and fragility (below).
                                     Habitats: considers minimum viable size of habitats, habitat
                                     heterogeneity, species/area relationships, home-range size.
                                     Populations: considers concept of minimum viable population
                                     size (population viability), national and local population trends,
                                     extinction risk.
  Diversity / Biodiversity           At a minimum species richness (number of species).

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                                       Biodiversity defined as ‘the variability among living organisms
                                       from all sources including, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic
                                       ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part
                                       (Convention on Biological Diversity, 1993). Must be considered
                                       in terms of the habitat type - some habitats have low species
                                       diversity by nature.
                                       Keystone species deserve special attention – defined as a
                                       species whose removal would induce significant changes within
                                       the food web (Begon et al., 1996).
  Rarity                               Applies to habitats and to species. The degree to which a
                                       habitat or community approximates a natural state. The
                                       degree to which the site is a good example of the habitat types.
                                        National, county, local scales e.g. within 10-km2 squares.
  Naturalness                          The degree of modification by human intervention. Habitats
                                       that are least modified are generally regarded more highly
                                       (Treweek, 1999). Also considers the extent to which the habitat
                                       is free of alien species.
  Representativeness/ Typicalness      How well the area represents habitats or vegetation types on a
                                       wider scale (Treweek, 1999); ‘degree of representivity of the
                                       natural habitat type on the area’ (Council Directive 92/43/EEC;
                                       Habitats Directive).
  Fragility                            The degree of sensitivity of habitats, communities and species
                                       to environmental change.
  Stability/Resistance/Resilience      Habitats and species. Stability refers to the ability of an
                                       ecosystem to maintain some form of equilibrium in the presence
                                       of a disturbance. Resilience is defined as the ability and speed
                                       with which a community returns to its former state following a
                                       disturbance. Resistance is defined as the ability of a community
                                       to avoid displacement by a disturbance (Begon et al., 1996).
  Other criteria include:
  Recorded history (scientific value), Potential value, Educational value, Amenity value.

Table 1b. Ecological Evaluation
  Ecological value         Examples

  A International          Sites designated as Special Protection Areas (SPA), Special Areas of
                           Conservation (SAC), Ramsar Sites.
                           Sites meeting criteria for international designation.
  B National               Sites designated as Natural Heritage Areas (NHA) or sites qualifying for
                           designation.
                           Undesignated sites containing good examples of Annex I habitats.
                           Undesignated sites containing significant numbers of resident or regularly
                           occurring populations of Annex II species under the EU Habitats Directive or
                           Annex I species under the EU Birds Directive or species protected under the
                           Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000.
                           Sites supporting viable populations of Red Data Book species (nationally
                           rare species).
  C Regional               Undesignated sites that are prime examples of the habitat (natural or semi-
                           natural) type, exhibit high biodiversity or support important
                           communities/assemblages of species within the region.
                           Sites exhibiting habitats that are scarce within the region.

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                         Sites that support nationally scarce plant species (recorded from less than
                         65 10-km2 squares, unless they are locally abundant).
                         Sites that hold regionally scarce vertebrate species.
  D High Local           Sites that are prime examples of the habitat type, exhibit high biodiversity
                         or important communities/assemblages of species within the local area.
                         Habitats that are considered important in a local context – e.g. semi-natural
                         habitats within an urban setting, hedgerows and treelines that serve as
                         important ecological corridors within an otherwise modified landscapes.
                         Sites exhibiting habitats/species that are generally scarce within the local
                         area.
  E Moderate Local       Sites that exhibit good quality semi-natural habitats. Hedgerows and
                         treelines.
  F Low Local            Artificial or modified habitats considered of low value for wildlife.
Adapted from CIEEM, 2016; IEEM, 2005; NRA, 2004; Regini, 2000.

Table 1c. Description of effects as per the EPA (2017):
   Positive Impact           A change which improves the quality of the environment.
   Negative Impact           A change which reduces the quality of the environment.
   Neutral Impact            A change that falls within typical bounds of variation within the study
                             area.
   Indirect Effects/         Impacts not directly associated with the project, often produced away
   Secondary Effects         from the project site or because of a complex pathway.
   Cumulative Effects        The addition of many small impacts to create one larger, more
                             significant, impact.
   Do-Nothing Effects        The environment as it would be in the future if no development was
                             carried out.
   Worst-Case Effects        Impacts arising from a development in the case where mitigation
                             measures substantially fail.
   Indeterminable Effects    When the full consequences of a change in the environment cannot be
                             described.
   Irreversible Effects      When the character, distinctiveness, diversity or reproductive capacity of
                             an environment is permanently lost.
   Residual Effects          The degree of environmental change that will occur after the proposed
                             mitigation measures have taken effect.
   Synergistic Effects       Where the resultant impact is of greater significance than the sum of its
                             constituents.

Table 1d. Significance of Effects (terminology based on EPA 2017; CIEEM 2016).

   Impact Magnitude            Definition / Rationale
   Imperceptible               An effect capable of measurement but without noticeable
                               consequences.
   Not Significant             An effect that causes noticeable changes in the character of the
                               environment but without significant consequences.
   Slight Effects              An effect that has noticeable consequences without affecting its
                               sensitivities.
   Moderate Effects            An effect that alters the character of the environment in a manner that
                               is consistent with existing and emerging baseline trends.
   Significant Effects         A significant effect is one which undermines the conservation objectives
                               for ‘important ecological features’ (CIEEM, 2016). In broad terms,
                               significant effects encompass impacts upon the structure and function
                               of a defined site, its habitats and species and their conservation status;
                               or in other words on site integrity**. The EPA (2017) measure these

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                                     effects as those that significantly alter a sensitive aspect of the
                                     environment.

    Very Significant Effects         An effect which, by its character, magnitude, duration or intensity
                                     significantly alters most of a sensitive aspect of the environment.

    Profound Effects                 An effect that obliterates sensitive characteristics.

** Integrity is defined as ‘the integrity of a site is the coherence of its ecological structure and function, across its
whole area, that enables it to sustain the habitat, complex of habitats and/or the levels of populations of the
species for which it was classified.'

Table 1e. Quality of Effects (terminology based on EPA, 2017)

    Impact Magnitude                 Definition / Rationale
    Positive Effects                 A change which improves the quality of the environment (e.g. increasing
                                     species diversity, improving reproduction capacity or by removing
                                     nuisances).
    Neutral Effects                  No effects or effects that are imperceptible, within normal bounds of
                                     variation or within the margin of forecasting error.
    Negative Adverse Effects         A change which reduces the quality of the environment (for example,
                                     lessening species diversity or diminishing the reproductive capacity of an
                                     ecosystem; damaging health or property or by causing nuisance).

    Appropriate Assessment

There are 4 stages in an Appropriate Assessment as outlined in the European Commission
Guidance document (EU Commission, 2001). The following is a brief summary of these steps.

Stage 1 - Screening: This stage examines the likely effects of a project/plan either alone or in
combination with other projects/plan upon a Natura 2000 site and considers whether it can
be objectively concluded that these effects will not be significant. The assessment of
significance is carried out in consultation with the relevant nature conservation agencies.

Stage 2 - Appropriate Assessment: In this stage, the impact of the project on the integrity of
the Natura 2000 site is considered with respect to the conservation objectives in place for site.

Stage 3 - Assessment of Alternative Solutions: Should the Appropriate Assessment determine
that adverse impacts are likely upon a Natura 2000 site, this stage examines alternative ways
of implementing the project that, where possible, avoid these adverse impacts.

In the absence of any reasonable alternatives for a project/plan that would be less damaging
to the integrity of a Natura 2000 site, it is then necessary to proceed to Stage 4.

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Stage 4 - Where imperative reasons of overriding public interest (IROPI) exist, an assessment
to consider whether compensatory measures will or will not effectively offset the damage to
the Natura site will be necessary.

Methodological guidance for Appropriate Assessment is provided in the following documents:
         Assessment of plans and projects significantly affecting Natura 2000 sites:
          Methodological guidance on the provisions of Article 6(3) and (4) of the Habitats
          Directive 92/43/EEC (EU Commission, 2001);
         ‘Appropriate Assessment of plans and projects in Ireland: Guidance for planning
          authorities (DoEHLG, 2009).

The statutory agency responsible for designated areas in Ireland is the National Parks &
Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

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3.0     DESCRIPTION OF THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT

        3.1     Site location

The proposed development site is located at Ballyleary, Great Island, Cobh, Co Cork (Grid Ref:
W 785 678) (Figure 1; Figure 2); some 15km southeast of Cork City.

Figure 1. Location of proposed development site

Figure 2. Proposed site boundary

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        3.2     Project details

Project Title: Ten-year permission, for the construction of 311 residential units, a creche
facility and all associated infrastructural and site development works at Ballyleary, Great
Island, Cobh, Co. Cork.

Full details of the project can be viewed in Walsh Design Group (2018) while a summary is
provided below.

The site area for the proposed residential development covers 34 acres (13.8ha) and consists
of the construction of 311 houses, comprising a mixture of two to four/five bedroomed
houses. The development also comprises the building of a crèche, an esb substation, and all
associated roads, footpaths, services, drainage and water supply infrastructure.

The housing development will be set into a landscaped area with several areas of native
woodland planting to link in with existing treelines to provide wildlife corridors. The majority
of internal and boundary treelines are to be retained as part of the development (Figure 3).

The houses will be serviced by mains water supply and the drinking water supply is considered
sufficient to meet the needs of Cobh (Cork CoCo, 2015). Foul water from the proposed
development will enter the Cobh Sewage Network. Whilst this is currently over-capacity, the
completion of the Cork Lower Harbour Scheme will provide adequate waste water treatment
capacity for the town of Cobh, and its anticipated growth in level of housing in future years
(Cork CoCo, 2015). Details of foul sewer connection are given in Walsh Design Group (2018)
as are details of the storm sewer collection system. This latter system includes a network in
the north of the site that will discharge into the existing stream/drainage ditch along the site
boundary. The outfall from this network will be limited to the permitted flow (QBAR) and
during storm events, excess surface water will be attenuated in underground attenuation
tanks (Further details in Walsh Design Group, 2018).

A large inner part of the site will be retained as a landscaped open parkland. The proposed
site layout is shown in Figure 3 below.

The construction phase is expected to commence in late 2018 and extend for 3-5 years.

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Figure 3. Proposed site layout

        3.3     Measures to protect surface waters from contamination

Construction Phase (as per Walsh Design Group, 2017/2018)

It is expected that surface water run‐off from site activities will be controlled by limiting the
site top soil strip to individual phases as the construction phases progress. All site runoff
associated with the construction stage will generally be directed to settlement ponds or
percolate to ground during each of the construction phases. However, where construction
works take place near surface water gullies in the existing surface water network, standard
environmental controls will be implemented by the building contractor and overseen by WDG.
These controls will follow best practice as recommended by CIRIA 2010 and ISO 14001:2004
– Environmental Management Systems.

The proposed measures include the following:

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      To ensure that there will be no contamination of surface water, any excess excavated
       material will be immediately removed (i.e. either used within the development for
       landscaping or removed to a licensed fill facility) and the excavated material (e.g. top
       soil) will be stored adjacent to the excavated hole so that it can be reused to backfill
       and finish around the sides of the tank and associated sewer trenches once the tank
       and sewers have been installed;
      The short term storage and removal/disposal of excavated material will be planned
       and managed such that the risk of pollution from these activities is minimised;
      Silt fencing will be erected and maintained in place during the construction phase and
       until such time as the integrity of the re‐instated ground/material has been fully
       established;
      The silt fencing will be checked twice daily during construction and once per day
       thereafter to ensure that it is working satisfactorily until such time as the re‐instated
       ground/material has been fully established;
      Works associated with the attenuation tanks will be completed as expeditiously as
       possible and during dry weather conditions to mitigate any risk of discharge(s) to
       nearby watercourses;
      Sediment traps (such as earthen berms and/or settlement ponds) and/or silt fences
       will be provided to prevent run‐off from the site;
      Drainage channels beside construction roads will flow into settlement ponds or swales
       in series to allow primary and secondary settlement of sediment. Each swale series
       will have an outfall manhole directly downstream in which final settlement can take
       place and the outflow to the existing network can be monitored. Outfall manholes will
       be regularly emptied of sediment during periods of heavy rainfall. These measures will
       prevent run‐off from the site and total suspended solid levels in all discharge shall be
       in compliance with the Quality of Salmonid Water Regulations (SI293:1988);
      Through all stages of the construction phase the contractor will ensure that good
       housekeeping is maintained at all times and that all site personnel are made aware of
       the importance of the freshwater environments and the requirement to avoid
       pollution of all types;
      The storage of oils, hydraulic fluids etc. will be in a bunded facility with filling and take
       off points within the bunded area in accordance with current best practice;
      The pouring of concrete, sealing of joints, application of water proofing paint etc. will
       be completed in the dry to avoid pollution of the freshwater environment. As grout /
       cementitious materials are highly toxic to aquatic life all such works must be contained
       in complete isolation of all waters and storm water systems.

Operation Phase (as per Walsh Design Group, 2017/2018)

During the operational phase, surface water run‐off at the site will be collected by a new
surface water sewer network. This network will connect to the main sewer network at six
points. The entire sewer network will discharge into the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage
Scheme which will include a new wastewater treatment plant at Shanbally. When complete
the project will also serve the Cobh area.

The following measures will be put in place to ensure the protection of surface waters from
contamination:

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      The storm drainage calculations shall ensure that the proposed storm drainage system
       (i.e. storm drainage network, attenuation tank and hydro‐brake) are appropriately
       sized to serve the new development as proposed;
      A cleaning and maintenance schedule will be implemented for the proposed storm
       drainage system and tanks during the operation phase. Each gully and each man hole
       fitted with a hydro‐brake will be fitted with silt traps to be emptied as part of the silt
       management and maintenance schedule;
      The proposed storm network will be inspected following construction to ensure that
       no cross connection between the proposed foul and storm network exists;
      The storm drainage system will be cleaned appropriately and inspected prior to being
       fully commissioned i.e. before being allowed to discharge to receiving waters. Water
       sampling of the receiving waters upstream and downstream of the proposed outfall
       will be undertaken before construction commences and for a period of 6 months
       following the completion of the development to ensure that the proposed water
       quality controls (both for the construction and operational phases) are appropriate
       and operating satisfactorily;
      There will be bunding of any domestic heating oil tanks to prevent possible spillage
       runoff.

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4.0         BASELINE ECOLOGY

            4.1       Identification of Natura 2000 sites

Natura 2000 sites within a 5 km radius of the proposed development are:

                  -   Cork Harbour SPA (Site Code 4030) – situated c.2.5 km to the northwest.

                  -   Great Island Channel Special Area of Conservation (SAC Site Code 1058) –
                      situated c.2.5 km to the northwest.

            4.1.1     Cork Harbour SPA (4030) – designation details

Cork Harbour Special Protection Area (SPA) (Figure 4) is a large, sheltered bay system, which
stretches from the two main estuaries of the River Lee, near Cork City in the northwest, and
the Owenacurra River, near Midleton, in the northeast, southwards as far as Roches Point
(Figure 4). It is a complex site and encompasses many other estuaries and inlets including the
North Channel, the Douglas River Estuary, inner Lough Mahon, Monkstown Creek, Lough Beg,
the Owenboy River Estuary, Whitegate Bay and the Rostellan and Poulnabibe inlets.

Cork Harbour is an internationally important wetland site, regularly supporting in excess of
20,000 wintering waterfowl, for which it is amongst the top ten sites in the country. Of
particular note is that the site supports internationally important populations of Black-tailed
Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, and Redshank Tringa totanus, while a further 20 non-
breeding (wintering) waterbird species occur in numbers of national importance. The Annex
I species Common Tern Sterna hirundo has a breeding population at the site (NPWS, 2014d).

The Waterbird Special Conservation Interest (SCI) species for Cork Harbour SPA are listed in
Table 2 together with their baseline data3 and conservation importance, in terms of All-Ireland
importance or International importance, based on standard thresholds (Crowe et al. 2008 and
Wetlands International, 2002 respectively). The NPWS Site Synopsis is given in Appendix 1.

3   Baseline data based on the Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS).

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Figure 4. Cork Harbour Special Protection Area (SPA site code 4030) © National Parks &
Wildlife Service, OSI, and esri Ireland. The proposed development site is marked by a red dot.

Table 2. Waterbird Special Conservation Interest (SCI) species for Cork Harbour SPA
(* denotes an Annex I species)
                                                   Baseline Data          Conservation Status
                                               (Mean peak 1995/96 –     during baseline period
      Special Conservation Interest Species       1999/00 I-WeBS)       (Source: NPWS, 2014e)
                                               (Source: NPWS, 2014e)
  Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)                            2,009            All-Ireland Importance
  Wigeon (Anas penelope)                                1,791            All-Ireland Importance
  Teal (Anas crecca)                                    1,065            All-Ireland Importance
  Pintail (Anas acuta)                                    57             All-Ireland Importance
  Shoveler (Anas clypeata)                               103             All-Ireland Importance
  Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)               121             All-Ireland Importance
  Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)                   57             All-Ireland Importance
  Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)               253             All-Ireland Importance
  Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)                        521             All-Ireland Importance
  Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)                              80             All-Ireland Importance
  Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)                 1,809            All-Ireland Importance
  Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)*                  3,342            All-Ireland Importance
  Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)                      95             All-Ireland Importance
  Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)                           7,569            All-Ireland Importance
  Dunlin (Calidris alpina)                              9,621            All-Ireland Importance
  Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)                   1,896          International Importance
  Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)*                  233             All-Ireland Importance
  Curlew (Numenius arquata)                             2,237            All-Ireland Importance
  Redshank (Tringa totanus)                             2,149          International Importance
  Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus                    3,640            All-Ireland Importance
  ridibundus)
  Common Gull (Larus canus)                            1,562            All-Ireland Importance
  Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)               783             All-Ireland Importance
  Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)*                  102 breeding pairs     All-Ireland Importance

RP18-GW123-07                                   15                                  May 2018
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            4.1.2     Cork Harbour SPA (4030) – conservation objectives

For coastal SPA sites, conservation objectives are defined for attributes relating to waterbird
species populations, and for attributes related to the maintenance and protection of habitats
that support them. These attributes are (1) population trend; (2) population distribution, and
(3) habitat range and area.

Site-specific conservation objectives for Cork Harbour SPA were published in 2014 and are
shown in Table 3.

Table 3. Conservation Objectives – Cork Harbour SPA (after NPWS, 2014d, 2014e)
                                                     (a) To be favourable, the long term population trend
                                                         for each waterbird Special Conservation Interest
                    Objective 1                          species should be stable or increasing. Waterbird
                                                         populations are deemed to be unfavourable when
    To     maintain       the     favourable             they have declined by 25% or more, as assessed by
    conservation      condition     of   the             the most recent population trend analysis.
    waterbird      Special      Conservation         (b) To be favourable, there should be no significant
    Interest species listed for the SPA.                 decrease in the range, timing or intensity of use of
                                                         areas by the waterbird species of Special
                                                         Conservation Interest, other than that occurring
                                                         from natural patterns of variation.

                    Objective 2                 To be favourable, the permanent area occupied by the
                                                wetland habitat (2587 ha) should be stable and not
    To     maintain      the     favourable     significantly less than the measured area, other than that
    conservation condition of the wetland       occurring from natural patterns of variation.
    habitat at the SPA as a resource for the
    regularly-occurring           migratory
    waterbirds that use it.

Conservation Status

The conservation status of non-breeding4 waterbird species of Cork Harbour SPA in relation
to Objective 1a (population trend) is provided in the Conservation Objectives supporting
document (NPWS, 2014e) and shown in Table 4 below.

Table 4. Waterbird Special Conservation Interest (SCI) species for Cork Harbour SPA and
current conservation status (condition)
     Conservation status (condition) ~                                   SCI Species
             population trend
    Highly Unfavourable                        Pintail, Shoveler, Red-breasted Merganser, Cormorant, Grey
    >50% decline                               Plover, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull and
                                               Lesser Black-backed Gull.
    Unfavourable                               Shelduck, Wigeon, Great Crested Grebe, Dunlin, Curlew and
                                               Redshank.
    Decline of 25% – 49.9%
    (Intermediate) Unfavourable                Teal, Grey Heron and Oystercatcher.

4   Conservation status is not given for the breeding population of Common Tern.

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 Decline 1% to 24.9%
 Favourable                           Little Grebe, Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit and Bar-
                                      tailed Godwit.
 Stable/increasing

        4.1.3    Great Island Channel SAC (1058) – designation details

The Great Island Channel SAC (Figure 5) stretches from Little Island to Midleton, with its
southern boundary being formed by Great Island. It is an integral part of Cork Harbour which
contains several other sites of conservation interest. Within the site is the estuary of the
Owennacurra and Dungourney Rivers and these rivers, which flow through Midleton, provide
the main source of freshwater to the North Channel. The site has been selected as a Special
Area of Conservation (SAC) selected for the following habitats that are listed on Annex I of the
E.U. Habitats Directive:

           Tidal Mudflats and Sandflats (1140)
           Atlantic Salt Meadows (1330)

A summary of qualifying interests is given in Table 5. The NPWS Site Synopsis is given in
Appendix 1.

Figure 5. Great Island Channel Special Area of Conservation (SAC site code 001058). The
proposed development site is marked by a red dot.

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Table 5. Summary of Qualifying Interests for the Great Island Channel SAC
                                                                    Description                                              Site-specific details
                                                                (after NPWS, 2008)
    HABITATS LISTED IN ANNEX I OF THE EU HABITATS DIRECTIVE
    Tidal Mudflats and Sandflats (1140)* Intertidal mudflats and sandflats are submerged at high tide and     Owing to the sheltered conditions, the intertidal
                                         exposed at low tide and are normally associated with inlets,         flats are composed mainly of soft muds. These
                                         estuaries or shallow bays. The physical structure of these           muds support a range of macro-invertebrates,
                                         intertidal flats ranges from mobile, coarse-sand beaches on          notably Macoma balthica, Scrobicularia plana,
                                         wave exposed coasts to stable, fine-sediment mudflats in             Hydrobia ulvae, Nepthys hombergi, Hediste
                                         estuaries and other marine inlets. They can support diverse          (Nereis) diversicolor and Corophium volutator.
                                         communities of invertebrates.                                        Green algal species occur on the flats, especially
                                                                                                              Ulva spp. Cordgrass (Spartina spp.) has colonised
                                                                                                              the intertidal flats in places and especially at
                                                                                                              Rossleague and Belvelly.
    Atlantic Salt Meadows (1330)*         Atlantic salt meadows generally occupy the widest part of the       The saltmarshes are scattered through this site
                                          saltmarsh gradient. They also contain a distinctive topography      and are all of the estuarine type (mud substrate).
                                          with an intricate network of creeks and salt pans occurring on      Species present include Sea Purslane (Halimione
                                          medium to large sized saltmarshes. Atlantic salt meadows            portulacoides), Sea Aster (Aster tripolium), Thrift
                                          contain several distinctive zones that are related to elevation     (Armeria maritima), Common Saltmarsh-grass
                                          and frequency of submergence. Lower saltmarsh is generally          (Puccinellia maritima), Sea Plantain (Plantago
                                          dominated by the most halophytic (salt-tolerant) species            maritima), Greater Sea-spurrey (Spergularia
                                          including common saltmarsh-grass (Puccinellia maritima) and         media), Lax-flowered Sea-lavender (Limonium
                                          species more usually associated with Salicornia muds. The mid-      humile), Sea Arrowgrass (Triglochin maritimum),
                                          marsh zone is generally characterised by sea thrift (Armeria        Sea Mayweed (Matricaria maritima) and Red
                                          maritima), sea plantain (Plantago maritima) and sea aster (Aster    Fescue (Festuca rubra).
                                          tripolium), while sea purslane (Atriplex portulacoides) can
                                          dominate at some sites. This mid-zone vegetation generally
                                          grades into an herbaceous community in the upper marsh,
                                          dominated by red fescue (Festuca rubra), sea milkwort (Glaux
                                          maritima), saltmarsh rush (Juncus gerardii) and creeping bent
                                          (Agrostis stolonifera).
*
 represents species which are listed as ‘species of special conservation significance within the County Cork Biodiversity Action Plan 2009-2013 (Cork County
Council, 2009).

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        4.1.4    Great Island Channel SAC (1058) – conservation objectives

Site-specific conservation objectives for Great Island Channel SAC were published in 2014
NPWS (2014a). NPWS (2014b) provides supporting information for coastal habitats (Atlantic
salt meadows) while NPWS (2014c) provides supporting information for the marine habitat
that is a qualifying interests for the site, namely ‘mudflats and sandflats not covered by sea
water at low tide’. These are detailed objectives, and several attributes are used to define the
features that should be preserved or restored to favourable conservation condition. Example
of attributes used include habitat area, physical structure (flooding regime) and vegetation
zonation (pertinent to saltmarshes) and benthic community composition (pertinent to
mudflats and sandflats not covered by sea water at low tide). The conservation objectives
documents are freely available on www.npws.ie and will be examined as part of the ecological
assessment reported here.

Conservation Status

Nationally, Ireland, like other EU member states, is required to report on the conservation
status of habitats and species listed on the annexes of the Habitats Directive (Article 17
reporting) at six-yearly intervals. In December 2007, Ireland submitted its first baseline
assessments of conservation status for all 59 habitats and c.100 species that occur in Ireland
(NPWS, 2008). This assessment was updated in 2013 (NPWS, 2013a, b).

Conservation status for habitats is based on the attributes of Range, Area, Structure &
Functions and Future Prospects, and for species is based on the attributes of Range,
Population, Area of suitable habitat and Future Prospects. Parameters are classified as being
“favourable”, “inadequate”, “bad” or “unknown”. The current status of the Annex I habitats
listed for Great Island Channel SAC, based on national assessments, are given in Table 6 below.

Table 6. Conservation status of qualifying interest habitats and species of the Great Island
Channel SAC (after NPWS 2013a, b).

                HABITATS & SPECIES OF QUALIFYING INTEREST ~ conservation status

                         Range          Area           Structure &     Future         Overall
 HABITATS OF                                            Function      Prospects
 QUALIFYING
 INTEREST
 Tidal Mudflats and
 Sandflats (1140)      Favourable    Favourable        Inadequate     Favourable    Inadequate

 Atlantic     Salt
 Meadows (1330)        Favourable    Favourable        Unfavourable   Inadequate    Inadequate
                                                       / inadequate

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        4.2     Baseline ecology of the proposed development site

        4.2.1   Habitats

Habitats within the site

Habitats within the proposed development site were identified as follows (Figure 6).

       Arable crops (BC1)

Arable crops dominate the site area. Corn is currently planted within the site and is of little
ecological interest. Common ruderal herb species occur in some patches.

       Spoil and bare ground/recolonising bare ground (ED2/ED3) and dry grassland (GS2)

In the north of the site and close to the northern entrance the land has been disturbed in
recent times and patches of bare and recolonising land occurs. These merge into areas that
have vegetated over, largely with grasses (presumably once arable land), and is now best
described as ‘dry meadows and grassy verges (GS2). Species recorded:

Meadow Fescue (Festuca pratensis)        Sweet Vernal-grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum)
Annual meadow grass (Poa annua)          Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus)
White Clover (Trifolium repens)          Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata)   Creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)       Black medic (Medicago lupulina)
Ragged Robin (Silene flos-cuculi)        Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)
Hedge woundwort (Stachys sylvatica)      Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Cinquefoil spp.                          Winter heliotrope Petasites fragrans

       Scrub and Wet Scrub (WS1)

Scrub occurs in a few places within the northern part of the site. The central areas of scrub
(Figure 6) are dominated by Gorse (Ulex europaeus), Willow (Salix spp.), Nettle (Urtica dioica)
and Broad-leaved Dock (Rumex obtusofolius) although various annual herbs as found in
ED2/ED3 (above) can also be found inter-mixed. The non-native Buddleja (Butterfly Bush) was
recorded in small amounts.

In the north of the site is an area best described as wet scrub. The vegetation is dominated
by Willow, Gorse and Rush species (Juncus spp.). Ragged Robin, Curled dock (Rumex crispus),
False Oat-grass (Arrhenatherum elatius) and Marsh Thistle (Cirsium palustre) also occur as well
as one stand of Bulrush (Typha latifolia). However the land was not waterlogged or wet
despite recent weeks of rain, and was therefore not considered to be marsh habitat. This
habitat is perhaps a remnant of a former marsh/wetland that once occurred in association
with a stream that runs parallel to the northern boundary of the site.

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Habitats on the site boundaries

       Stream/drainage ditch

The northern boundary of the site comprises an earthbank overgrown with scrub and a linear
stream/drainage ditch that is also completely overgrown. Vegetation along this boundary
comprises largely Gorse, Bramble and Willow scrub with herb species recorded under
ED2/ED3/GS2 above, plus the following: Dog Rose (Rosa canina), Meadowsweet (Filipendula
ulmaria), Wood Sage (Teucrium scorodonia), Common Figwort (Schrophularia nodosa) and
Hogweed (heracleum mantegazzianum). The aquatic habitat of the stream/drainage ditch is
considered in more detail below.

       Hedgerows (WL1), treelines (WL2) and associated Scrub (WS1).

The site is entirely bordered by treelines and hedgerows with associated scrub (WS1). These
linear features are shown by green lines on the habitat map and are labelled to coincide with
the descriptions below (Figure 6).

A – This roadside boundary comprises a dense layer of linear scrub and associated treeline;
the latter containing Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), Willow and Elder (Sambucus nigra).
The scrub layer comprises Bramble (Rubus fructicosus), Nettle, Willow and Spear Thistle
(Cirsium vulgare).
B – This roadside treeline is dominated by Hawthorn, Hazel (Corylus avellana) and Blackthorn
(Prunus spinosa). A shrub layer of Nettle, Bracken (Pteridum aquilinum), Gorse, Bramble,
Broad-leaved Dock, Ivy (Hedera helix), Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), Cleavers (Gallium
aparine) and Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium) occurs. Part of this boundary
has a fence with overgrown scrub. In the southern corner are four Spruce (Picea spp.) trees
in association with an adjacent property.
C – This boundary carries on the same as previously described and merges into dense Willow
scrub/woodland that lies to the south of the site.
D – A treeline with mature Sycamore, Willow, Oak (Quercus spp.), and Ash (Fraxinus excelsior).
A dense scrub layer occurs and also patches of dense bracken (HD1). Ecologically connected
(as C above) with woodland/scrub habitat to the south of the site.
E – This interior treeline/hedgerow is dominated by Hawthorn, Sycamore, Ash, Willow and
Elder. The dense ‘scrubby’ understorey comprises Bracken, Bramble, Sycamore saplings, Ash
saplings, Rosebay Willowherb, Cleavers, Hogweed, Dog Rose, Foxglove, Honeysuckle (Lonicera
periclymenum). In patches Gorse scrub dominates. This dense hedgerow is ecologically
connected to habitats beyond the site by its connection with hedgerows C and D (above) and
to woodland/scrub habitat that occurs to the south of the site.

RP18-GW123-07                                   21                                   May 2018
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                                                A

                                         E
                                                        B

                        E

                D                        C

Figure 6. Habitats within the site boundary.

        4.2.2   Birds

A total of 19 bird species was recorded during the bird survey (Table 7) including six species
that were recorded flying over only and not interacting with the site.

Of the remaining 13 species, four are listed as species of conservation concern (Colhoun &
Cummins, 2013), including one, Yellowhammer, that is red-listed.

Based on the recording of song (territory holding) the following eight species are likely to
breed within the site or within the site boundaries: Wren, Dunnock, Robin (Amber-listed),
Stonechat (Amber-listed), Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Yellowhammer
(Red-listed).

RP18-GW123-07                                   22                                   May 2018
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Table 7. Bird species recorded during the bird survey and they habitat they were recorded in,
together with their status (Resident, Summer migrant) plus an indication of conservation
concern in Ireland (BoCCI, Red or Amber-listed) (after Colhoun and Cummins, 2013).

 Common name              Latin name         Status     BoCCI   Number               Habitat
                                                                recorded
 Pheasant          Phasianus colchicus         R                    2      ED2/ED3 (2)
 Sparrowhawk       Accipiter nisus             R         A          1      Flying over
 Woodpigeon        Columba palumbus            R                    2      Arable crops (2)
 Barn Swallow      Hirundo rustica             S         A          6      Flying over
 Pied Wagtail      Motacilla alba              R                    1      Flying over
 Wren              Troglodytes troglodytes     R                    4      Internal scrub (2) Boundary
                                                                           hedgerow (2)
 Dunnock           Prunella modularis          R                   2       Internal scrub (1); Boundary
                                                                           scrub (1)
 Robin             Erithacus rubecula          R         A         1       Boundary hedgerow (1)
 Stonechat         Saxicola rubicola           R         A         2       Internal scrub (2)
 Blackbird         Turdus merula               R                   1       Boundary hedgerow (1)
 Chiffchaff        Phylloscopus collybita      S                   1       Boundary hedgerow (1)
 Willow Warbler    Phylloscopus trochilus      S                   1       Internal scrub (1)
                                                                           Boundary scrub (1)
 Sedge Warbler     Acrocephalus                S                   1       Boundary scrub (1)
                   schoenobaenus
 Blue Tit          Cyanistes caeruleus         R                   1       Interior hedgerow (1)
 Rook              Corvus frugilegus           R                   1       Flying over
 Hooded Crow       Corvus corone cornix        R                   2       Flying over
 Goldfinch         Carduelis carduelis         R                   2       Flying over
 Linnet            Carduelis cannabina         R         A         4       Internal scrub (4) + Flying
                                                                           over (6)
 Yellowhammer      Emberiza citrinella         R         R         1       Internal treeline/hedgerow
                                                                           (1)

        4.2.3     Mammals

Only signs of Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) (holes and droppings) were observed within the
site during the survey.

The potential for other mammal species to occur was assessed by reference to online data
and maps produced by the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) (Table 8)
(maps.biodiversityireland.ie). Data relate to the 10km square W76.

RP18-GW123-07                                      23                                  May 2018
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Table 8. The potential for terrestrial mammals to occur within the site (recorded presence
within 10km square W76) (data extracted from the NBDC database, October 2017)

       Mammals                                                        Status

       Insectivora
       Hedgehog                       Erinaceous europaeus            Potential
       Pygmy shrew                    Sorex minutus                   Potential

       Chiroptera
       Common pipistrelle             Pipistrellus pipistrellus       Potential
       Soprano pipistrelle            Pipistrellus pygmaeus           Potential
       Brown long-eared bat           Plecotus auritus                Potential
       Leisler’s bat                  Nyctalus leisleri               Potential
       Natterer’s bat                 Myotis nattereri                Potential
       Daubenton’s bat                Myotis daubentonii              Potential
       Brandt’s bat                   Myotis brandtii

       Lagomorpha
       Rabbit                         Oryctolagus cuniculus           Certain
       Irish hare                     Lepus timidus hibernicus        Potential

       Rodentia
       Red squirrel                   Sciurus vulgaris                Unlikely
       Bank vole                      Myodes glareolus                Potential
       Wood mouse                     Apodemus sylvaticus             Potential
       House mouse                    Mus domesticus                  Potential
       Brown rat                      Rattus norvegicus               Potential
       Black rat                      Rattus rattus

       Carnivora
       Fox                            Vulpes vulpes                   Likely
       Badger                         Meles meles                     Potential
       Irish stoat                    Mustela erminea hibernica       Potential
       American mink                  Neovison vison                  Some potential

       Artiodactyla
       Red deer                       Cervus elaphus                  Unlikely
       Sika deer                      Cervus nippon                   Unlikely
       Fallow deer                    Dama dama                       Unlikely

RP18-GW123-07                                   24                                May 2018
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        4.2.4   Aquatic ecology of the stream/drainage ditch

The north western perimeter of the proposed housing development site is a drainage
channel/stream. Present on early OS maps as a stream but absent from recent maps, suggests
that the stream has been heavily modified by agricultural practices during the past 100 years,
and is now probably best classified as a drainage channel. At the time of survey the drainage
ditch was 1m wide and had less than 5cm depth of water, with a matrix of soft silt and localised
gravel pockets.

The channel contained the macrophyte plant species Lesser Water-parsnip (Berula erecta) and
Water cress (Naturtium officinale) with more localised common water starwort (Callitriche
stagnalis). The former two species covered 95% by surface area of the channel.

The main feature of interest within the channel was the presence of the fish species three-
spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) that was recorded present during sweep nets of
the channel.

The channel was bordered by dense scrub vegetation gorse, bramble and willow scrub as
previously described.

Plate 4.1. Dense growth of Water Parsnip in the drainage channel at Ballynoe (upstream)

Downstream of the site (near the crossroads along the northern boundary of the proposed
site), the channel flows northwards along a treeline of Willow (Salix cinerea), Ash (Fraxinus
excelsior) and occasional Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa). The channel becomes more stream like
with more open water and slightly improved flows despite remaining very shallow
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habitat for both species. Furthermore, the low dissolved oxygen levels would only support
gasterostid fish (i.e. stickleback). Physiochemical characteristics of the drainage channel and
macro-invertebrates are discussed below.

Plate 4.2. The more open stoney channel of the drainage channel downstream of the
crossroads

Biological and Physiochemical Water Quality

The drainage channel was sampled upstream and downstream of the proposed development
to investigate the biological water quality of the site and to establish whether any rarities
existed. Both sites upstream and downstream of the proposed development had poor water
quality estimated at Q2-3 (poor quality, poor status water) as exhibited by the presence of
abundant bloodworm (Chironomus riparius), Freshwater Hoglouse (Asellus aquaticus),
Tubficid worms (Limnodrilus species) and Gammarid shrimp (Gammarus duebenii) (Table 9).

The physiochemical water quality recorded would be in agreement with the Q samples (i.e.
indicative of poorer water quality) given the very low dissolved oxygen levels recorded
(4.7mg/l upstream and 4.9mg/l downstream respectively) and also moderately high
conductivity readings for a moderate alkalinity stream with pH recorded between 7.61 and
7.67 and conductivities of 356us upstream and 336us downstream.

Table 9. Physiochemical & Biological Water Quality Summary
                     Dissolved       Conductivity         Dissolved       pH        Q Rating
                   Oxygen (mg/l)        (us)             solids (ppm)
      Site 1
   (upstream)           4.7              356                 178         7.61         Q2-3

      Site 2
  (downstream)          4.9              336                 167         7.67         Q2-3

RP18-GW123-07                                       26                                May 2018
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