River Slaney: Environment Under Threat

The River Slaney, Wexford, seen from Crossabeg, above, Killurn Bridge
The River Slaney, Wexford, seen from Crossabeg, above, Killurn Bridge

A beautiful Irish environment under constant threat. Dave reports from his home turf.

Back in 2004, I mentioned the EU Pollutant Emissions Register and the Slaney Valley. At the time, I was unhappy about the fact that out of 153 top registered polluters in Ireland, two of them – the disastrous county dump and a massive pig farm – were very close to where I grew up, in the beautiful Slaney Valley.
At the time, I had no idea that things could get worse. According to the website for the Crossabeg Killurin Local Environment Group,
NRGE Limited / Reenard Farms, one of Ireland’s biggest pig fattening companies, have proposed the construction of a huge waste processing Anaerobic Digester at the historic and beautiful rural Killurin area in the River Slaney valley in County Wexford. The company, which produces many thousands of pigs per annum, has expansive pig fattening units on both sides of the River Slaney.
This Anaerobic Digester would be on the site of the original pig farm – right on the banks of the river Slaney. Since both the pig farm and dump were situated here, reed beds have expanded halfway across the river, almost choking it. The reason? Excess nutrients, flowing unchallenged into the Slaney by Killurn Bridge.
The River Slaney is a candidate Special Area of Conservation under the EC Habitat Directive (C92/43/EEC), and is one of the few remaining spring salmon rivers in Ireland. Screwing the area up any further simply isn’t a good idea. Mind you, putting these facility on a sandy foundation beside a river is complete madness. This is an area brimming with wildlife – egrets and herons stalk the shore, ravens nest in the old castle between our house and the pigfarm. My parents saw an otter in the garden a couple of weeks ago, and the last time I was out rowing on the river, a couple of months ago, a seal kept me company.
Now, don’t get me wrong – and don’t accuse me of being a NIMBY either. I’m an environmentalist, and I not only support, I preach sustainability and recycling. However, the environmental impact of these past two developments – the county landfill and the pig farm – have been atrocious. The grey, grimy roads have been broken by heavy trucks, and left unrepaired. People living a bit closer than us to the landfill have had gas monitors installed in their house, so great is the threat of methane. The dump is now being closed, years later than it should have been – rather than being a landfill, a massive hill has been created ,which now requires landscaping. It still stinks. And face it, dumping waste into sandpit that happens to be within 500m of a river… it’s just stupid. Why should we assume that the management of this site will be any better?
Credit to Wexford County Counil (responsible for the dump) – rejected an application made in January 2005 by NRGE Limited/Reenard Farms for planning permission to erect an Anaerobic Digester at Killurin. The company made a new application in September 2005 – but there’s been plenty of objections from local residents.
More as it happens.
Google Satellite Photograph of the area »
The two large sites to the right of the bridge are the landfill (bottom) and the pig farm and proposed site for the digester (top). The dark pool above them is a sandpit near a series of slurry pits. To the right of this, is another small body of water. The lane running from this to the river is our private lane to our house.
River Slaney, Wexford, Ireland
Christmas 2008
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More on EU Habitats Directive
More on the Slaney and its status »
Anaerobic digestion – the breakdown of organic matter by bacteria in the absence of oxygen.
River Slaney, Wexford, Ireland
Christmas 2008
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River Slaney, Wexford, Ireland, boat or cot, with ducks
(July 2008)
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River Slaney reflection, Wexford, Ireland
Christmas 2008
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Chief Bottle Washer at Blather
Writer, photographer, environmental campaigner and "known troublemaker" Dave Walsh is the founder of Blather.net, described both as "possibly the most arrogant and depraved website to be found either side of the majestic Shannon River", and "the nicest website circulating in Ireland". Half Irishman, half-bicycle. He lives in southern Irish city of Barcelona.


  1. Not particularly. What does that have to do with having the smell of decomposing offal wafting in one’s window?

  2. I noticed that in your contribution “David Cronenberg: A History of Violence” you say that small-town Americans are “scared of the world outside”. Yet in Ireland, “not particularly”. It’s more of the same old automatic putdown of Americans. It has more to do with your imagination, or with your perceived need to follow a certain formula when writing anything at all about America, than with the objective reality of life in small towns in the U.S. Why do you assume that Americans are more “scared of the world outside” than anybody else? If this were true, why do you find more expatriate Americans living all over the world than expats from any other country? No matter what the objective reality may be, for non-American writers of course the U.S. is always due the obligatory little insult. It’s tiresome and inaccurate.

  3. Fitzie – I’m not sure why you’re posting comments about this Cronenberg article on an article about environmental issues in Ireland – you can also post comments to the Cronenberg article. So excuse me if I misunderstood your earlier comment. There’s hundreds of articles on blather.net, so I couldn’t only assume you were talking about the one you posted to!
    But back to Cronenberg and small town America. I wrote a movie review that talked about the message that Cronenberg conveys in the History of Violence is. I’ve never spent anytime in small-town America, but I’ve spent plenty of time in small-town Lots of Places, especially Ireland, but also in other countries. Isolated towns to tend to be insular and suspicious of outside influences. Where I come from, it’s so small there isn’t even a town. Or a village.
    In my review of Croneberg’s movie, I didn’t talk about other countries – because it wasn’t relevant. I didn’t write the review to please anyone, or to wreak havoc with anyone’s sensitivies.
    But I’m sorry I might have offended you. On the other hand, I do find it remarkable that people can take reasonable commentary as being ‘unamerican’ – last year I wrote a piece about the surreality of LAX airport, and got slammed because it was intepreted as dissing America!
    People are just too sensitive…

  4. If one article is shite and another is geist, I can’t help but make the mental connection: shitegeist! You’re just too sensitive: I’m simply pointing out you might want to examine a couple of assumptions.

  5. Ah, Fitzie. I’m not being to sensitive, I’m merely explaining that we’re not here for the sole purpose of telling America what to do. The names ‘Blather’ and ‘shitegeist’ should suggest that perhaps when we’re being silly we mean something serious, and when we’re being serious about something, then perhaps we’re taking the piss.
    So… what are we assuming?

  6. Holy crap fitzie, you’re a complete ass! You make the rest of America (including me) look like assholes! Its when people from outside the U.S. read the kind of tripe you come out with that they think we’re stuck up our own holes.
    Sorry Dave, that idiot just makes me mad! Love the photos by the way! I used to go fshing in the Slaney when I visited my cousins near Barntown on summer vacation as a child. I visited again last year and was shocked to hear that another landfill is proposed for the Slaney catchment, at Holmestown. I used to walk around Holmestown wood with my cousins, and the place is riddled with dozens of streams around the area now porposed for the landfill site, all of them flowing to the Slaney. Does anyone in government in Ireland know the meaning of the word “planning”?? Or do they just not give a crap?

  7. Hi Dave I didnt live too far away myself – in The Deeps- to be precise keep up the good work you are right it is a disgrace. Say hello to Jimmy and Monica !
    PS The photos are great.

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