Garinish Island (Ilnacullin), situated in the harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, County Cork is famous for its gardens, maintained by the Office of Public Works (OPW). They are a popular tourist attraction and although the estate had been maintained, Bryce House (built in 1912) had fallen into disrepair, and extensive restoration has been required to allow it to be opened to the general public.
Two Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) lie within 650 m of the island and this led to a requirement to consider whether the restoration work would be likely to have an effect on these sites, which is the first step in the Appropriate Assessment process.
BSG Ecology’s Role in the Project
BSG Ecology prepared the Appropriate Assessment Screening Report for the redevelopment project. This included change of use from residential to museum, demolition of a block-work shed on the eastern side of the house, provision of a new single-storey extension and hard landscaping works. The Appropriate Assessment Screening Report was commissioned by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to support the planning application for Bryce House redevelopment.
Bryce House is approximately 25 m from the site boundary of Glengarriff Harbour and Woodland SAC which surrounds Garinish Island. Glengarriff Harbour and Woodland is a Special Area of Conservation for habitats such as old sessile oak woods and alluvial forests and for species such as Kerry slug, lesser horseshoe bat, otter and common seal.
The boundary of Caha Mountains SAC is approximately 650 m from Bryce House. Caha Mountains is a Special Areas of Conservation for habitats such as northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix, active blanket bog and Kerry slug and Killarney fern.
The available information on Glengarriff Harbour and Woodland SAC and Caha Mountains SAC was reviewed to establish whether or not the proposed redevelopment of Bryce House was likely to have a significant effect on the designated sites. The resulting Appropriate Assessment Screening Report set out the potential impacts on the key habitats and species, and considered the likelihood of such impacts causing a significant effect on the designated sites’ interest.
Garinish Island was visited in 2013 to undertake a walkover survey to inform the Appropriate Assessment process, and the redevelopment was identified as having the potential to impact on lesser horseshoe bat, which is a qualifying species for Glengarriff Harbour and Woodland SAC. The redevelopment required the demolition of a shed which was known to be a night perch site used occasionally by a small number of lesser horseshoe bats. However, it was determined that disturbance of lesser horseshoe bats would be limited to loss of the shed, and this was not considered likely to have a significant effect on the interest of the SAC. This was because there are sufficient alternative night perch sites, already used by the species, provided by the nearby front and side porches of Bryce House.
BSG Ecology maintained a close working relationship with the architects (OPW) and with National Parks and Wildlife Service during the AA screening process and throughout the renovation period. This included the provision of ongoing ecological advice as and when required, which helped the project along without any significant ecological hitches.
Planning permission was granted for the redevelopment of Bryce House on 12 August 2014. The redevelopment was completed between January and August 2015.