Green Today, Gone Tomorrow

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The Issue

Nestled amongst the cityscape of housing, stadiums, and roads in Ballintemple, Cork city, is an area of green space used for wildlife and recreation. This space is often referred to as ‘an oasis in the city’ and is known as Beaumont quarry. Urban green areas are becoming rare and even rarer still are sites that are managed for rewilding and for human enjoyment, relaxation as well as learning.

Beaumont quarry provides crucial habitats for biodiversity, hosting wildlife of significant conservation importance. This includes an Irish Red Data species, little robin (Geranium purpureum). It also supports the nationally scarce pale flax (Linum bienne), and nationally rare calcareous grassland habitat. The area is also the first rewilding space in Cork city. 

Beaumont quarry, well known locally and nationally, also provides opportunities for invaluable educational, recreational and wellbeing activities for schools, corporations and the wider public. Beaumont quarry is highly used by local residents who enjoy the peace and tranquillity found within its borders. These sites are important for future generations and they are being lost due to development and poor oversights of their value. 

This unique site faces serious habitat destruction and disturbance threats from the proposed BusConnects project for Route STC J Mahon to City. The proposal is to have an overhanging footpath across the edge of the quarry, impacting upon the rewilding area and increasing light and sound disturbance to the site.

At a time when urban green spaces are increasingly recognised for their role in addressing biodiversity loss and climate change, enhancing mental health and providing a space for community partnerships, the degradation of Beaumont quarry would be an irreversible blow to our city’s natural heritage and sustainability goals. Cork Nature Network undertook a survey of accessible trees and found that the plans detail the removal of at minimum 61 mature trees, 78 semi mature/ juvenile trees and 51 saplings along the edge and into the quarry, with the green area and trees being repurposed for pedestrian pathways and bike lanes.

While Cork Nature Network supports sustainable transport and the need to reduce transport emissions, it is also important to advocate for efficient road space allocation that allows for the incorporation of tree-rich urban green areas. These spaces act as carbon sinks that are highly important criteria in our fight to address climate change issues and to ensure an urban environment that addresses the needs of future generations. All these work in unison to greatly enhance the resilience of our urban areas around climate change mitigation, biodiversity protection and community well-being.

The proposal put forward by BusConnects will also see encroachment into the green space by the creation of a car parking space in the nearby 18th century Beaumont walled garden, an area that Beaumont Residents’ Association would like to restore as a community garden. Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2023, The National Biodiversity Action Plan and the local Cork City Development Plan advocate for the maintenance of green infrastructure and highlight the value of these spaces to urban residents. Therefore these proposals by BusConnects do not tie in with national or local policies.  

Residents would not only lose their local green space but also experience increased noise levels from traffic. Car usage will increase with the proposed car park as there will be more spaces for parking during matches and it isn’t hard to imagine that parked cars would be found in bus lanes, cycle lanes, and footpaths. This is currently experienced now and it is highly likely to continue.

It is important to point out that we were not provided with any reasoning as to why this design was chosen or any statistics/ data to back up the current plans. With that, we have set out our recommendations as follows:

Cork Nature Network View & Recommendations

  • Cork Nature Network objects to the current BusConnects proposal for Beaumont quarry and the walled garden.
  • The proposals for Route STC J must be amended. Our recommendations include a combination of cycle and footpath space at the area near to the bend/ junction at Boreenmanna Road and Churchyard Lane, which would avoid damage to the site while also providing safety measures for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • We do not need more parking spaces at the proposed site or in the walled garden, as the aims of BusConnects state,  ‘It is a key part of the Government’s policy to improve public transport and address climate change in Dublin and other cities across Ireland’. The walled garden has two species of bats nesting plus Beaumont Residents’ Association are working with the city council to use this as a community garden.

How can you help

Write to your local TD in Cork South-Central

Simon Coveney TD at simon.coveney@oir.ie

Micheál Martin TD at micheal.martin@oireachtas.ie

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD at donnchadh.olaoghaire@oireachtas.ie

Write to Malcolm Noonan, Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform at mos@housing.gov.ie

Write to Mr Terry Brennan, Senior Communications Manager at the National Transport Authority terry.brennan@nationaltransport.ie

Image Credits

Beaumont Quarry western boundary Boreenmanna Road

Beaumont Quarry boundary. Credit: Seb Smok

Beaumont Quarry slopes

Beaumont Quarry slopes. Credit: Isobel Abbott

Red fox cub

Do you want to find out more?

If you want to find out more, contact us today and we will be more than happy to help.

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