Donegal N56

The Donegal N56 Letterilly to Kilraine Road Upgrade Scheme was an ambitious improvement project of a road outside the town of Glenties in West County Donegal. The road itself runs northwest from the town and this project (being developed by Wills Bros Ltd. and the Donegal County Council, covering approximately 5 km) is one of several upgrades being made to the N56, a two lane national road that is being widened from 5 m to 7 m to meet EU standards. Flynn Furney were contracted to consult on environmental issues, as the project ran through two sensitive river catchments, the Maas and the Owenea, and adjacent to a Natura 2000 designated site. Of particular sensitivity is a population of Freshwater Pearl Mussels that are located downstream of the works in the Owenea river. This species is very sensitive to increases in suspended solids in their aquatic habitat and so every effort had to be made to ensure that as little sediment as possible entered the watercourse, which was a challenge as more than ten small streams and drains crossed the works area that needed to be piped and culverted. As well as constant surveillance of works, the main forms of mitigation employed by the onsite ecologists took the form of several silt control measures, such as silt fencing, settlement tanks and even a larger in-river multi-stage sediment trap.

The site was and still is beautiful, with sweeping views of the surrounding bog changing throughout the year as different plant species come into leaf and flower. Buzzards, Cuckoos and Snipe were frequently seen and in summer, the constantly wet ground was teeming with armies of frogs, all framed by the deep blue West Donegal mountains and hills.

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