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Displaying items by tag: Donegal County Council

#FERRY NEWS – After a gap of six months the Greencastle-Magilligan ferry service across Lough Foyle reopened over the St. Patrick's weekend, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The return of the 10-minute cross border route, which offers an alternative to a road journey of nearly 80kms /50 miles was announced by Donegal County Council and Limavady Borough Council.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the route operated by Lough Foyle Ferry Company is a joint initiative of the two councils and  for the remainder of this month the service will be running to a weekend-only schedule.

Sailings however are to increase to a regular daily service, subject to weather conditions, between 1st April-30th September.

For more information visit www.loughfoyleferry.com

Published in Ferry
At the weekend, the Greencastle-Magilligan ferry Foyle Venture (1978/324grt) made her last sailing, marking the end of a service that started on Lough Foyle in 2002, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The closure has led to 12 full-time staff and six-part staff losing their jobs. Ongoing discussions are taking place between local TDs, councillors, the ferry operator and the Minister of Transport and Tourism and Donegal County Council to try and restore the route which has also been supported by Limivady Borough Council.
Funding for the service in recent years has become more difficult as councils suffer budget cuts and there are calls for direct assistance from governments in Dublin and Stormont.

According to the Lough Foyle Ferry Company website, the directors sincerely hope that the suspension of the service will be temporary and look forward to re-commencing operations in early 2012.

The 10-minute crossing served by the 300-passenger / 44-vehicle capacity Foyle Venture (photo) provided year-round sailings. During the summer months the schedule was increased to a continuous shuttle-service as it provided a convenient short-cut for Northerners heading to Donegal.

Motorists could save nearly 80 kms (50 miles) by travelling across the Inishowen Peninsula instead of having to drive through London/Derry. In its third year of operations, the company carried its one-millionth passenger and since then the route has exceeded 2m passegers.

Published in News Update
A Donegal conservation group has hit out at An Bord Pleanála for approving plans for a 13-turbine wind farm in a scenic Gaeltacht area.
The Irish Times reports that businessman PJ Molloy originally sought permission for 35 wind turbines with a 90m blade diameter to be erected near Glenties.
This number was reduced following consultation with the Donegal County Council and the Department of the Environment regarding the impact to protected species in the local habitat such as freshwater mussels, Atlantic salmon and otters.
However the Gweebarra Conservation Group has criticised the granting of planning permission, arguing that the Government is "giving tax incentives to private investors to destroy our hills and bogs".
The group also highlighted concern over health dangers potentially associated with the high-voltage power lines necessary to transmit electricity from the turbines.
The planning board voted five-to-two to grant permission for the turbines, taking into account both the National Renewable Energy Action Plan and the suitability of the site - which falls outside exclusion areas under Donegal County Council’s development plan.

A Donegal conservation group has hit out at An Bord Pleanála for approving plans for a 13-turbine wind farm in a scenic Gaeltacht area.

The Irish Times reports that businessman PJ Molloy originally sought permission for 35 wind turbines with a 90m blade diameter to be erected near Glenties. 

This number was reduced following consultation with the Donegal County Council and the Department of the Environment regarding the impact to protected species in the local habitat such as freshwater mussels, Atlantic salmon and otters.

However the Gweebarra Conservation Group has criticised the granting of planning permission, arguing that the Government is "giving tax incentives to private investors to destroy our hills and bogs".

The group also highlighted concern over health dangers potentially associated with the high-voltage power lines necessary to transmit electricity from the turbines.

The planning board voted five-to-two to grant permission for the turbines, taking into account both the National Renewable Energy Action Plan and the suitability of the site - which falls outside exclusion areas under Donegal County Council’s development plan.

Published in Coastal Notes
The cost of removing 33 whales which washed ashore on Rutland Island, Co. Donegal in mid-November is to cost Donegal County Council €10,000, according to a report posted last week in the Donegal Democrat.

The pod, which had been observed in waters between Arranmore Island and Burtonport during the week before they stranded themselves on a beach on Rutland, were also believed to be the same pod monitored off the South Uist, off the Hebrides. Shortly before that it was feared that the whales may have also attempted to beach themselves.

Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) said he could not rule out sonar interference for confusing the whales and leading to their beach deaths. For information on the IWDG logon to www.iwdg.ie

Published in Marine Wildlife
Members of Donegal County Council are to discuss today, the future of two subsidised ferry routes operating from the Inishowen Peninsula, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The Lough Foyle ferry between Greencastle and Magilligan Point, Co. Derry could be curtailed as traffic levels have halved and the summer only Buncrana-Rathmullan service on Lough Swilly is also to be examined. Both ferry services are run by the Lough Foyle Ferry Company.

The cross-border service is funded by Donegal County Council and Limavady Borough Council. The route in recent years has experienced an unfavourable exchange rate, increased cost of fuel, poor weather, a depressed tourism market sector and notably reduced construction traffic, contributing to a sharp decline in demand. In the current climate the local authorities may find it difficult to provide funding as they scale back on budgets.

Record levels in 2005/2006 saw traffic reach 106,179 vehicles and 302,740 passengers. Such was the success of the service annual subsidies for 2008 and 2009 were not required. According to the latest 12-monthly traffic figures for June 2009-June 2010, vehicle volumes dropped to 52,669 and passengers levels have decreased more than halve to 149,455.

The 10-minute route is operated by the 44-vehicle capacity Foyle Venture which served the Kilimer-Tarbert route for the Shannon Ferry Co. The mid-west estuary ferry was replaced by newbuild Shannon Breeze in 2000 and later sold to Lough Foyle Ferry Co.

When the Lough Foyle route began operations in 2002, the service received a subvention of €108,000 each from the local councils. Over that timeframe, the route has received a total funding of €500,000 from Donegal County Council.

In 2009, the two local authorities agreed to provide a €200,000 subvention, but this runs out in March 2011. An application has also been submitted to the Special EU Programmes Body for funding.

On the west side of the Inishowen Peninsula is the Bunbcrana-Rathmullan service, which is also in doubt if a subsidy from Donegal County Council cannot be maintained. The Lough Swilly route started in 2004 and is served by the 20-vehicle capacity Foyle Rambler, a former German river-ferry. The north-west ferry route takes 25-minutes and recorded 15,000 passengers at its peak.

In busier times, tourists from the North, instead of passing through Derry city, used the 'land-bridge' routes across the Inishowen Peninsula to reach holiday-homes and popular seaside resorts throughout Co. Donegal.

Published in Ports & Shipping

Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's 4th Blue Light service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

Introduction

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions around 2000 times (40 times to assist mountain rescues and 200 times to carry out aeromedical HEMS missions on behalf of the HSE), Coast Guard volunteer units will respond 1000 times and RNLI and community lifeboats will be tasked by our Coordination Centres about 950 times
  • evacuate medical patients off our Islands to hospital on 100 occasions
  • assist other nations' Coast Guards about 200 times
  • make around 6,000 maritime safety broadcasts to shipping, fishing and leisure craft users
  • carry out a safety on the water campaign that targets primary schools and leisure craft users, including at sea and beach patrols
  • investigate approximately 50 maritime pollution reports

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

List of Coast Guard Units in Ireland

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin
  • Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

The roles of the Irish Coast Guard

The main roles of the Irish Coast Guard are to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction.

Each year the Irish Coast Guard co-ordinates the response to thousands of incidents at sea and on the cliffs and beaches of Ireland. It does this through its Marine Rescue Centres which are currently based in:

  • Dublin
  • Malin Head (Co Donegal)
  • Valentia Island (Co Kerry).

Each centre is responsible for search and rescue operations.

The Dublin National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) provides marine search and rescue response services and co-ordinates the response to marine casualty incidents within the Irish Pollution Responsibility Zone/EEZ.

The Marine Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) Valentia and MRSC Malin Head are 24/7 centres co-ordinating search and rescue response in their areas of responsibility.

The Marine Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Ballycotton and Clifden.

MRSC Malin Head is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle.

MRCC Dublin is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Carlingford Lough and Ballycotton.

Each MRCC/MRSC broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and, in some cases, MF radio in accordance with published schedules.

Maritime safety information that is broadcast by the three Marine Rescue Sub-centres includes:

  • navigational warnings as issued by the UK Hydrographic Office
  • gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings as issued by the Irish Meteorological Office.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

The Coast Guard can contract specialised aerial surveillance or dispersant spraying aircraft at short notice internationally.

Helicopter tasks include:

  • the location of marine and aviation incident survivors by homing onto aviation and marine radio distress transmissions, by guidance from other agencies, and by visual, electronic and electro-optical search
  • the evacuation of survivors from the sea, and medical evacuees from all manner of vessels including high-sided passenger and cargo vessels and from the islands
  • the evacuation of personnel from ships facing potential disaster
  • search and or rescue in mountainous areas, caves, rivers, lakes and waterways
  • the transport of offshore fire-fighters (MFRTs) or ambulance teams (MARTs) and their equipment following a request for assistance
  • the provision of safety cover for other search and rescue units including other Marine Emergency Service helicopters
  • pollution, casualty and salvage inspections and surveillance and the transport of associated personnel and equipment
  • inter-agency training in all relevant aspects of the primary role
  • onshore emergency medical service, including evacuation and air ambulance tasks
  • relief of the islands and of areas suffering from flooding or deep snow

The secondary roles of the helicopter are:

  • the exercise of the primary search, rescue and evacuation roles in adjacent search and rescue regions
  • assistance to onshore emergency services, such as in the evacuation of high-rise buildings
  • public safety awareness displays and demonstrations
  • providing helicopter expertise for seminars and training courses

The Irish Coast Guard provides aeronautical assets for search and rescue in the mountains of Ireland. Requests for Irish Coast Guard assets are made to the Marine Rescue Centres.

Requests are accepted from An Garda Síochána and nominated persons in Mountain Rescue Teams.

Information courtesy of Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (July 2019)

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