Plan to ban jet-skis from lakes faces stiff opposition

Watersports enthusiasts in Co Westmeath have said they will oppose a plan to ban jet-skis from the county's lakes.

Watersports enthusiasts in Co Westmeath have said they will oppose a plan to ban jet-skis from the county's lakes.

Westmeath County Council originally intended to ban all power-craft including jet-skis and motorboats from most lakes, confining their use to the southern leg of Lough Derravaragh. The council said it was taking the action in response to complaints from anglers and tourism interests.

However, under a compromise proposal, the council is now considering banning just jet-skis and permitting powerboats to continue using all the lakes. Three lakes in particular - Lough Derravaragh, Lough Lene and Lough Owel - are popular with weekend water-skiers, jet-ski owners and anglers.

According to complaints received by the county council, alleged fish catches were significantly down because of disturbance by power-craft being used close to the shore. They pointed out the economic benefit of fishing, and said bed and breakfast receipts were falling because fishermen were going elsewhere.


But the Lough Derravaragh Powerboat and Water-ski Club said the ban is not the correct way to deal with any problem of nuisance. According to club spokesman Paul Ó Riain, powerboat and water-ski enthusiasts will continue to oppose the ban, even though the compromise plan allows them to continue their sport.

"We won't support a position that says an outright ban is the answer. If we did, they may come after us next," Mr Ó Riain told The Irish Times.

"There may be a need for regulation to alleviate any nuisance but this has not been tried. There are associations like the Irish Sailing Association, Water-ski Federation and Marine Federation and, as far as we understand, these bodies have not been contacted by the council at all. This problem has arisen elsewhere but the council has never approached any of the associations and asked how it is handled."

Mr Ó Riain also said he believed regulation which restricted the areas around the shore where power-craft could be used might be a solution. "But an outright ban is a mistake. You can't ban everyone you don't like."

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist