Sea of change: Work expected to start on Bray’s toxic landfill ‘within months’
Work to clean up the old landfill on the north side of Bray Harbour is expected to start in the next few months, Green Party Councillor Steven Matthews has told WicklowNow.ie.
“The latest update I have received is that the detailed design has been completed and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council will be shortly progressing to requests for tender for construction,” Mr Matthews, the Cathaoirleach of Bray Municipal District, said.
“There are on going discussions between Wicklow County Council and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council on traffic and construction management plans.
“I would expect to see construction commence within the next few months. There is great potential within this project to allow for a greenway from Bray Harbour towards Shanganagh and another important link in an East Coast greenway,” he added.
Last year, it was reported that the old landfill, which holds 200,000 tonnes of waste, was regarded as the highest risk site in the entire country of falling into the sea.
The study, Local Authority Coastal Erosion Policy and Practice Audit, was produced by University College Cork and commissioned by the County and City Managers Association.
The report raises concerns over 38 old landfill sites within 300 metres of the coastline, with six deemed to be at risk, with Bray considered ‘High Risk’.
Proposals to protect the coast and prevent the landfill from spilling into the sea on the north beach went out to public consultation in December 2018.
The duration of the works is expected to be around 16 weeks.
In 2017, it was found that the dump contained 104,000 cubic metres of waste, including broken asbestos tiles, excessive levels of ammoniacal nitrogen, potassium and manganese.
The landfill, which is on private land, was once the main dump for the town but it is on the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown side of the county border.
“I have been concerned for many years at the environmental impact of this site and I will continue to work with my Green Party colleagues in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown to have protection measures put in place,” Cllr Matthews said previously.
The site landfill closed in 1968 and it is believed it was used as a dump for decades if not centuries before that.
The preferred method of preventing further loss of landfill material would be to construct a rock revetment to prevent erosion of the lower half of the cliff and to regrade the cliff above to a long term stable slope.
The cliff material from the regrading would be placed onto the cliff top behind and covered with top soil.
The structure would include an access path along the cliff behind the works and an access down onto the beach north of the works.
In an architectural heritage impact assessment report, it was found that the works will cause loss of some of the surviving fabric associated with Corke Abbey Gate Lodge and the original 19th century coastal railway line.
However, if no work is undertaken at the site that would result in the inevitable loss of all of this fabric in time as a result of continuing erosion.
Ongoing erosion and cliff instability is causing the landfill material to fall into the sea. This material is taken and spread along the shore by waves and tides with adverse environmental impacts.
The report also found that large swathes of coastal Ireland, such as roads and houses, are at serious risk of falling into the sea as climate change threatens serious coastal erosion.
Violent winter storms and a warming climate mean that hundreds of properties are already in danger of being washed into the sea.
The country has a high concentration of coastal communities, with almost 2m people or 40pc of the population living within 5km of the coast.
Previously, environmental group Coastwatch revealed that approximately 200m of the face of the dump has been exposed.
This has resulted in decades of materials including rusted metal, heavy plastics, bricks and bags being washed away with the tide.
The problem was initially identified by a student back in 1993 and Coastwatch subsequently reported on it in 2005 and 2006.
Despite this, no efforts were made to find a permanent solution to prevent the situation from deteriorating further and repair the damage that had already occurred.