The Ulster Canal Greenway Phase II – Smithborough to Middletown
Flynn Furney Environmental Consultants undertook an Ecological Impact Assessment of this c.30km recreational cycle and walking route. Our assessment looked at the impacts on a designated site within the route (an old broadleaved woodland), and on watercourses crossed by the route – including the Ulster Blackwater and the channel of the Ulster Canal itself. In order to inform our assessments, a suite of ecological surveys were carried out. These included an extensive desktop survey of available information on the proposed route. FFEC looked at all sites that had previously been surveyed (e.g. old and ancient woodlands, semi-natural grasslands and rivers) and gathered this data. As part of this process, the team carried out consultation with statutory and non-governmental organisations which included Inland Fisheries Ireland, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Birdwatch Ireland and the Irish Wildlife Trust. The environmental team then carried out a range of surveys. These included surveys for rare and protected flora, mammals, birds and invertebrates. We also surveyed for bats and bat habitats. As part of the surveys we also recorded all notable, veteran and specimen trees. We also carried out electro-fishing to assess fish species and surveys of freshwater macroinvertebrates to gain insights into the biological quality of the watercourses crossed by or feeding into the Ulster Canal. Our team produced detailed habitat mapping of around 50km2 as well as identifying habitat types that had not been recorded before in this part of Co. Monaghan. At time of writing, the first section of the Ulster Canal Greenway (from Monaghan Town to the border with Northern Ireland at Ardgonnell Bridge) has received planning permission.