New DCU GAA pitch plan ruffles feathers

Fionnuala Walsh

DCU St. Patricks Campus. Credit: Daria Jonkisz

Migratory geese are a threat to DCU’s plans to build a new astroturf GAA pitch in St. Patrick’s College.

Locals have objected to the plans for the all-weather sports facilities on the grounds that over 1,600 Brent geese flock to the fields over the winter/spring period.

DCU intends to replace the old playing fields on St. Patrick’s Campus with an artificial turf GAA pitch, an all-weather training area and cross-country tracks in the area that spans 9.6 acres.

Although the pitches are not a protected habitat, the numbers of Brent geese in Europe are “vulnerable” and are an amber listing for conservation concern in Ireland, according to Birdwatch Ireland.

Dublin City Council have put plans on hold to seek more information about the birds before granting planning permission. The application is still on an additional information request since December.

“They will have to respond by early March or it will be invalidated,” according to a planning department spokesperson.

Around 40,000 of the small, dark geese spend winters in Ireland, mostly in the coastal and bay regions. “The birds like to feed on grassland which explains why they can be found on sport pitches like those in Drumcondra,” birdwatch researcher Helen Boland told The Times.

“DCU has been asked for additional information in support of a number of the aspects of its planning application by Dublin City Council which it will be provided by April next,” said Declan Raftery, Chief Operations Officer for DCU.

Fionnuala Walsh