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What's happening in Rathcoole Park?

I asked for an update from Irish Water on the progress of works at Rathcoole Park, including recent spraying. We all look forward to new playing pitches in 2021!

Dear Deputy Higgins,

Thank you for your recent communications in relation to spraying of large areas of Rathcoole park.

I have received an update advising that Irish Water is in the process of completing a €35m investment in the trunk water infrastructure in South Dublin with the construction of the new 1200mm diameter strategic watermain linking the two largest water supplies in the Dublin Region namely Leixlip and Ballymore Eustace . This project is one of many to increase drinking water network connectivity and security of supply for the Greater Dublin Area. The reinstatement works on the project are well underway with reconstruction works on the pitches in Rathcoole Park as agreed with South Dublin County Council having commenced in February 2020.

The works will involve installation of under pitch drainage, regrading of the ground to optimise the pitch surface and gradients, construction of 2 pitches, maximising the playing space available and appropriate runoff areas. In March 2020, in preparation for the pitch reinstatement, the area involved was cordoned off completely to separate the construction site from the remainder of the South Dublin County Council managed park. The fenced off site is part of the curtilage of the Irish Water project site and are the responsibility of the Irish Water's Contractor until such time as the pitches have been fully restored and seeding established.

It is expected the 2 pitches will be available for playing on in Summer 2021. Irish Water’s Main Contractor for the project, Ward and Burke Construction Ltd., engaged Eddie Connaughton, B. Sc. Agronomist to design the pitch recipe for construction, sequencing of the process from existing pitch stripping and harvesting to final pitch reconstruction. In consultation with South Dublin County Council Parks Department, it was agreed to prepare the pitch for soil stripping and reinstatement by use of a translocated broadleaf herbicide.

Risk Assessments and Method Statements were carried out to facilitate the pitch reconstruction which included for application of the herbicide on a calm day, by trained experienced staff from a Landscape Contractor, in this case Avondale Landscapes and in conjunction with SDCC Parks Dept. The reconstruction of the pitches at Rathcoole Park called for the existing grass sward to be sprayed with a non-residual total herbicide like Round-up to eradicate the existing sward. This practice is essential to the harvesting of the existing topsoil for re-use in the reconstruction works.

Spraying existing grass swards with this herbicide is standard practice in our industry, and is both safe for the environment and the public when used at label recommended rates. This activity took place on the Monday 23rd March at 4.30pm. No issues or complaints by members of the public were received on the day. The Project Agronomist does not agree that the brown /dead grass is "catastrophic environmental damage" but rather it is dead and decaying grass due to herbicide application. Once the grass has died the topsoil can be harvested (removed) and stored to allow the base formation for the new sports pitches.

Once the bases are formed the topsoil is replaced without the old grass present so that the new sports pitches can be drained and sown with new sports pitch grasses. This will return the area to a new grass sward that will be capable of sustaining intensive sports usage in the future.

Following application of the herbicide, the next stage of the process is to strip and harvest the topsoil to preserve for final reuse on the reinstated, regraded pitches, however due to the current site shutdown arising from the COVID-19 pandemic the stripping and harvesting of the topsoil has not been able to progress and the remaining works are postponed until the construction activities are permitted to recommence.

I trust you find the above information useful. Thank you for contacting Irish Water.

Yours sincerely,

John O’Driscoll

Elected Representative Support Desk

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