The Mid West Regional Authority (MWRA) has been allocated €192,000 under an EU funded programme to promote the environmental protection and economic development of the Mid West Region’s principal waterways, including Lough Derg, the West Clare coastline, the River Shannon and the Shannon Estuary.
The Authority has been tasked with developing a regional policy tool aimed at ensuring the future planning and development of rivers and waters in counties Limerick, Clare and Tipperary are compliant with the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The objectives of the EU Directive are to protect all high status waters, prevent further deterioration of all waters and to restore degraded surface and ground waters to good status by 2015.
Under the terms of the EU-funded ‘Territories of Rivers Action Plans’ (TRAP) project, the MWRA also is working with authorities in 7 other European countries in relation to the exchange of information on best practices in landscape protection, management and planning, as outlined under the European Landscape Convention (ELC).
Commenting on the project, Linda Newport, EU Projects Officer, MWRA said: “The overall objective of the project is to facilitate the exchange of best practices between project partners’ regions in an effort to promote environmental protection while also ensuring proper economic and social development. The end result should be an action plan for each region.”
There are a number of public agencies involved in the Management of river territories in the Mid-West region, including Limerick City and County Councils, Clare County Council, North Tipperary County Council, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Waterways Ireland, the inland fisheries, the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board, the ESB, the Office of Public Works and the Shannon-Foynes Port Company.
“The MWRA will work with all of these partners during the project which is co-funded by the ERDF Interreg IVC programme,” explained Ms. Newport.
Other partners in this project include Kainuun Etu Ltd (Finland); Association of River Trusts (United Kingdom); Zemgale Planning Region (Latvia); Regional Development Agency of Western Macedonia SA (Greece), South-West Regional Authority and Shannon Development (Ireland); Waterboard Noorderzijlvest (the Netherlands); National Institute of Research Development for Mechatronics (Romania); and Soca Valley Development Centre (Slovenia).
“The benefit of the TRAP project for the Region is that the MWRA can benefit from exchanges with other partner regions, each of whom has particular expertise in one or more areas such as governance, monitoring, aquatic environment or river tourism. The MWRA, for example, will share its best practises in the area of governance, given its extensive experience of Regional Planning Guidelines and the important role that they can play in the
sustainable development of an area. Likewise, the MWRA will import knowledge and expertise from other more experienced partners,” Ms. Newport concluded.
The Mid-West Region is dominated by water with its distinctive Atlantic Coastline to the West, the River Shannon, Shannon Estuary and Lough Derg. The MWRA is currently coordinator of the Lough Derg Marketing Strategy Group, which is responsible for promoting and developing activities around the lake, in cooperation with the Local Authorities and representatives from local businesses and trades. It is also a member of the Shannon River Basin District Management Project.