The Liffey Sweeper
The Liffey Sweeper is the first vessel of its kind in Dublin to help tackle aquatic debris that accumulates in the River Liffey. In an effort to help prevent damaging wastes effecting the Dublin Bay Biosphere and in turn help tackle the world-wide issue on the impacts of marine debris in our oceans.
Funding for the Liffey Sweeper was provided by the Dublin Waste to Energy Community Gain Projects Grant Scheme. The Irish Nautical Trust is working to develop this environmental project with the support of Dublin Port Company, Dublin City Council, Covanta Dublin Waste to Energy and University College Dublin, School of Biology and Environmental Science who are all helping to achieve the project’s environmental goals.
The Liffey Sweeper has been modified and fitted with a large front cage to collect floating and neutral buoyancy debris and a sorting table has been fitted on board for the separation of materials.
The Liffey Sweeper will aim to tackle waste in key areas such as:-
- River Liffey from Butt Bridge
- River Dodder
- Dublin Port: All Shipping Berths
- Clontarf Area
- Tolka Estuary
There also have plans to install a series of boom stations along the river to best target the waste and make collection more efficient and easier.
Once materials have been collected & lifted from the water they are separated and sorted into designated recycling bins to be removed by a licenced contractor to be sent for treatment before disposal at Covanta Waste to Energy Treatment Plant.
Where there is industry and human habitation there will always be a continuous flow of aquatic rubbish and debris leading to our seas and oceans. Every year, up to 13 million tonnes of plastic reaches the ocean. That is equivalent to dumping the contents of one bin truck into the ocean every minute, according to United Nations Environment Programme 2016. Most marine debris come from land-based sources such as storm drains, fly- tipping or discarded litter. Marine debris can consist of household waste, food containers, wood and logs.
Most of this rubbish is made from non- degradable plastic such as bottles, carrier bags and pose a significant threat when entered in to the water system affecting our beaches and causing damage and danger to our maritime community as well as our Marine environment. Worldwide wild life is affected as plastic can be found on coastlines, on the sea surface, the sea floor and it has even been found inside Arctic Sea ice. Our local wild life such as cormorants, terns, brent geese and many more species are significantly affected. Seagulls are often found with plastic bags caught around their necks unable to fly, dead swans and other birds are found floating in the River Liffey and many of these small incidents are not documented or reported but are clearly visible to local people on the water on a regular basis. The accumulation of unsightly debris does not serve to enhance the iconic image of the River Liffey which is one of Dublin’s major tourist attractions. It also has an adverse effect on tourists & the general public’s enjoyment of the amenity while walking close to the River & for social and recreational users of the River for whom it also presents inherent dangers. Much of the marine waste that finds its way to the Irish Sea and beyond enters at locations such as our River outlets and culverts.
Irish Nautical Trust
The Irish Nautical Trust’s mission is to create a marine training apprenticeship platform using marine craft and professional providers to train and certify young people in maritime skills so they can reach the level of competency required to operate marine craft in this particular environment for long term sustainable employment. The Old Liffey Ferry No.11 was our first marine training vessel and it is progressing slowly. The value of this new sustainable initiative to Dublin City Council, Dublin Port Company and to our marine environment is on a much a larger scale. This also will allow The Trust to bring the training of young people to a higher level with this wider range of potential work experiences. This combination will be of vital importance in a number of ways including the creating of local employment, education, training and certification for young people who will be the future custodians to maintain and protect our river environment and structures along the River Liffey. The only proven way that young people will get to know their job and their environment is through “learning while doing”. The River cleaning project is an ideal platform which encompasses all the needs of the Trust in achieving our objectives.
Article and images kindly provided by Rachael Murray of the Irish Nautical Trust