A set of bylaws to regulate the use of Westmeath’s lakeshore areas is to be considered by councillors and put on public display in the coming months.
The regulations will cover such areas as vehicle access, noise levels, camping, fires, alcohol use, the control of dogs and horses, and the use of jet skis and power boats in a lakeshore area. A set of penalties for misuse will also be outlined.
It was Cllr Mark Cooney who requested the council study the proposed lakeshore bylaws as soon as possible, after he expressed concern at the levels of antisocial behaviour at the Port na Neena lakeshore site on Lough Ree.
The draft bylaws were included in the Lakeside Amenity Report published recently, which set out a number of desired improvements, totalling over €1.4 million, for the county’s lakeside sites.
Councillors united in welcoming the proposed upgrades to 18 different lakeshore areas across the county, taking in amenity sites on Lough Ennell, Lough Owel, Lough Ree, Lough Derravaragh, Lough Sheelin, Lough Lene, and the River Inny, the funding for which is to be sought from a number of different sources including the Westmeath County Development Fund and Failte Ireland.
“We are the capital of Ireland when it comes to lakes; we are known as the Lake County,” pointed out Cllr Johnny Penrose, who thanked director of services George Lambden for preparing the report.
Cllr Dan McCarthy said he was delighted at the inclusion of Mullalys Point on Lough Owel in the plan, adding that on a summer’s day there could be “up to 90 boats at one time if there is a fishing competition on”. Meanwhile Cllr Ken Glynn welcomed in particular the inclusion of a children’s playground in the plans for Tudenham on the shores of Lough Ennell. “This area is at the heart of Mullingar West; it is close to Belvedere and an important tourist amenity,” he said.
Councillors from the Athlone area were keen to point out that they had identified Coosan Point as the priority site on Lough Ree. Drawing attention to the necessity of dealing with the influx of jet skis to Lough Ree, Cllr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran said he wanted to see “money spent on Coosan Point before the summer of next year”.
Responding to the councillors’ comments, Mr Lambden pointed out that the report should be viewed as a five- or six-year programme. “The fact that the plan has been approved by members gives us strength when we go to seek funding. It is important to have the plan and to prioritise, and to move forward with the prioritised areas,” he said.