Thursday, 29 March 2007

Report delay stalls progress on beach caravan site

ANY move on the provision of a new caravan park near the beach at Rossbeigh has been delayed following a decision to extend the public consultation period for the project.
Responding to a query from Cllr Michael Healy-Rae, an official in Kerry County Council’s environment department said that despite the intention to submit an application to An Bord Pleanala in early February, the plan has been delayed due to unforeseeable circumstances.
“Unfortunately, despite numerous assurances by the consultants involved, delivery of the environmental impact statement for the development in question was somewhat delayed.
“The document has just been received,” council official, Mick Boyce, confirmed.
“The application to An Bord Pleanala has now been finalised and is being submitted immediately,” he added.
According to the council engineer, because of the delays in receiving the environmental impact state-ment, it was necessary to extend the public consultation period and notices have been placed advising the public of the changes.
Mr Boyce assured the councillor that the local authority would make every effort to ensure a timely decision by the planners on the Rossbeigh application.
Reacting to confirmation of the delay, Cllr Healy-Rae said he would continue to make strong representations with regard to the situation.
“I would describe the new caravan park as a very necessary facility,” he said.
“There are so many people who have visited Glen-beigh and Rossbeigh over the years but are now unable to do,” Cllr Healy-Rae added.
Mary Murphy
© The Kerryman

Council the arch-enemy as McDonald’s appeals lit sign ban

LOVIN’ it? Not in Mayo, it seems.
McDonald’s might be a popular fast food eatery but the restaurant chain is not exactly experiencing a whole lot of “lovin’” from the leading burghers of Castlebar.
A McDonald’s outlet in the Mayo town has recently been refused planning permission to illuminate its famous golden arches sign in a decision that has sparked controversy in Castlebar.
It is the second time in the last six years that Castlebar Town Council has put a halt to the company’s bid to light up the local nightlife through a large “M” sign outside its restaurant on the Lower Westport Road.
On the previous occasion, An Bord Pleanála upheld the council’s decision to refuse planning permission.
The issue has also led some members of the local authority to get into something of a McFlurry amid fears that the furore spells a McTastrophe for Mayo.
Labour councillor, Johny Mee, warned that Castlebar would become “the laughing stock of the country” over the refusal of planning permission for the illumination.
Mr Mee said he would try to get the decision reversed by getting the council to pass a material contravention order.
Fine Gael councillor Kevin Guthrie also supports the planning application but acknowledged that the illumination of the sign would contravene the town’s development plan.
“It is daft. People will say councillors have more important things to be sorting out than McDonald’s signs but I think the decision not to allow the sign to be lit is very foolish,” said Mr Guthrie.
Blackie Gavin, a Fianna Fáil member of Castlebar Town Council, claimed the decision would send out “a very negative view of Castlebar internationally”.
The owner of McDonald’s in Castlebar, Martin Crampe, declined to comment on the issue on the basis that he is appealing the decision to An Bord Pleanála.
Seán McCárthaigh and Teresa O’Malley
© Western People

Council orders removal of Roche posters from site in Wicklow

A large billboard with posters of Minister for the Environment Dick Roche has been removed from a site in Wicklow after questions were raised about its planning status. The posters, nearly 30 feet long and eight feet high, contained Mr Roche's photo alongside the slogan "Working for Wicklow".
Mr Roche blamed an "over-zealous" supporter for putting up the posters. They were removed yesterday from the hoarding just outside Rathnew.
It followed contact from Wicklow County Council's planning enforcement section to Mr Roche's office. However, yesterday, Mr Roche claimed he ordered the posters to be removed. He denied the hoarding breached planning regulations.
According to a spokesman for Mr Roche, the Minister was unaware of the posters, which were in a privately-owned field overlooking the main road into Wicklow town, until he was contacted by the media last Friday.
"An enthusiastic, over-zealous member of Minister Roche's campaign volunteer team put up a few posters," the spokesman said.
"When the Minister found out after getting a call from the media, he immediately instructed that a white covering be put on sites until the posters were taken down this morning."
"At no time did Minister Roche infringe the litter or planning Act, but he decided that they should be taken down. He notes other candidates in Wicklow have election hoardings up."
However, yesterday a spokeswoman for Wicklow County Council planning department said the council had been in contact with Mr Roche's office on Monday and had requested that the posters be removed.
Under the 2002 planning laws, advertising hoardings relating to a general election are exempt from planning legislation. However as an election has yet to be called, there is a question as to whether this exemption applies.
Mr Roche is the latest Dáil candidate to become embroiled in controversy over pre-election publicity. Dublin South West TD Charlie O'Connor was warned that 400 of his posters erected earlier this month on lampposts could breach littering legislation.
Liam Reid
© 2007 The Irish Times

Developer faces €12.7m fine

A DEVELOPER who illegally demolished a 19th century convent in south Dublin has missed a deadline to reinstate it.
Kimpton Vale faces a €12.7m fine after failing to rebuild Presentation Convent Terenure which was in the process of being added to the city council's register of protected structures.
Under enforcement proceedings issued last December, the company was instructed to stop the demolition and re-instate the building to the satisfaction of the council's planning department by last Friday.
But the rebuilding work is far from finished, and city council inspectors from the council will visit the site today before deciding if further action is required.
Council sources said it was likely that legal action would be taken because of the slow rate of progress.
© Irish Independent

Councillors being taken for a ride

already agreed by officials with advertising firm, JCDecaux, in what has been described as a "free bike" scheme for Dublin: that is "free" in exchange for 120 billboard sites. So controversial is the scheme that denizens like Bertie Ahern – as a Drumcondra resident – has objected to it.
While media reports have concentrated on the bicycles, the real story is that councillors are outraged at the deal being already agreed by officials, with councillor Tom Stafford's criticisms of the plan as a "terrible, terrible application" typifying representatives' views.
Councillors were simply not aware of the scheme's details – that is until 70 simultaneous applications to erect billboards was made by JCDecaux during December, with another 50 in January. These roadside units are to display adverts on one side, with "civic information" on the other – and all to be located on public footpaths.
Strangely there has been no Environmental Impact Assessment, nor a council motion selling public land – while councillors are also puzzled as to why, if the council is to be a beneficiary, that the applications were not addressed to Bórd Pleanála.
More interesting is that by virtue of the project being applied for as more than 120 individual applications, it would cost over €25 grand for total adjudication by the Bórd.
However, Executive Planning Manager Ciaran MacNamara has been busy at council meetings defending the "public realm enhancements". Describing the proposed billboards as a "new departure for the industry", MacNamara claims
that along with the 500 rental bikes, the city will get 4 public toilets, "a family of way-finding signage", and JCDecaux would reduce their current billboards by 25%.
Yet despite the contract having been already signed, MacNamara is refusing to release it to councillors on the basis it as "commercially sensitive" – with councillors now resorting to FOI requests.
Mr MacNamara also claims that "very few" objections had been received; maybe he didn't see the one from Bertie Ahern, or from Tony Gregory, or the one from Councillor Larry O' Toole. Councillor Tom Brabazon has been very busy getting in a dozen objections – while dozens of other interests have also objected, such as Dublin City Business Association whose members – Arnotts, Clerys, and Eason's – have all filed objections.
Then there's the Dublin Transportation Office's submission regarding the 70 15-feet high "metropole" applications, which states "the DTO is totally opposed" as illuminated signage "is considered to be a safety hazard".
Now councillors have begun to do their own sums regarding the advertising revenue potential; Tom Stafford estimated €13 million per annum – which over the 15 year terms is over €200 Million; i.e. enough to buy 2 million bikes...
Anybody feel as if they have been taken for a ride?
© Phoenix Magazine

Case against Kerry golf club owner struck out

Enforcement proceedings against the owner of a golf club near Ballinskellig's Bay, Co Kerry, to remove unauthorised material were struck out by request of Kerry County Council at the Circuit Court in Killarney yesterday.
The proceedings, relating to unauthorised coastal protection works at the Skellig Bay golf club owned by Micheál O'Shea of Bayview Hotel, Waterville, were brought by the council under section 160 of the Planning Development Act 2000.
It was alleged Mr O'Shea failed to properly comply with conditions for retention permission for cliff erosion and protection works carried out to the cliff face of the golf course three years ago, in that he used the wrong type of material.
The enforcement proceedings were initiated just prior to the collapse of rock armour and other material used to reinforce a cliff-top tee box within metres of the coastal home of Breda McGillicuddy last month. The council carried out emergency works to prevent the golf course tee from collapsing on to the 200-year-old cottage and to render the cliff structure safe.
In doing so they also removed the unauthorised material, the subject of the enforcement proceedings, a spokesman for the council said.
Yesterday, Liz Murphy, barrister for the council, told the court that "circumstances have overtaken the matter". Health and safety issues were also now involved, Ms Murphy said.
She requested the matter be struck out and legal costs awarded to the council.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin agreed to this request.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) had advised the council after receiving a complaint before the cliff face boulder collapse. They gave advice to the council on rendering the structure safe, a spokesman for the HSA confirmed yesterday.
The works to the cliff and coast in an area of Prime Special Amenity, a designated National Heritage Area as well as a candidate Special Area of Conservation, have been the subject of ongoing concern among environmentalists.
Friends of the Irish Environment complained that some of the cliff works had done more damage than 100 years of natural erosion.
The golf course was constructed after planning permission was granted in 1999. However, subsequent works to the cliff were carried out without prior permission. Retention permission was subsequently sought and granted with conditions.
At the time of the cliff collapse last month, Mr O'Shea refuted suggestions that Ms McGillicuddy's house was threatened and said the slippage of the wall protecting the golf course was a result of exceptionally high tides.
He said he was complying with the council's instructions on safety.
Mr O Shea said he had not received notice about the enforcement proceedings from the council.
Anne Lucey
© 2007 The Irish Times

Hunting group takes legal action against State

Planners will love the irony in this story.

A HUNTING organisation has initiated legal action against the Environment Minister for failing to properly conserve the birds which they want to shoot.
The National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) has secured a judicial review against Dick Roche for the alleged failure of the State to properly transpose EU measures for the conservation of birds.
The NARGC said it has taken the action to stop the licensed hunting of the red grouse and several other protected wild bird species outside of the game hunting season and during their reproductive cycles.
In addition, the NARGC has challenged the minister’s issuing of a hunting licence to the Irish Kennel Club under the Wildlife Act.
It said in doing so the minister is acting in excess of his powers by issuing a licence retrospectively and not seeking to make an individual assessment of each applicant for hunting.
“The current licence which was issued was backdated for an improper purpose in an attempt to validate hunting which had already taken place unlawfully,” a spokesman said.
“The NARGC is committed to sustainable hunting in accordance with the highest principles of conservation and views these actions as extremely serious.”
Environment Minister Dick Roche said that while he had seen reports of a legal challenge, his department had not yet received any papers, and so he could not comment on the substance of the case.
However, he said the licence, issued to the Irish Kennel Club, does not involve shooting. It covers the training of gun dogs and the holding of gun dog trials up to the end of March. “There is a short open season for the shooting of red grouse, from September 1 to September 30, but that is not the subject of the current licence to the Irish Kennel Club that has apparently been challenged,” he said.
“The period from February 1 to March 31 is in accord with the traditional season for the training of gun dogs and the holding of gun dog trials. This involves the dogs locating the birds, although they are not shot, captured or taken.”
He said the question of disturbance during the breeding season of the red grouse was raised with the department by the NARGC prior to the issue of the licence. “The matter was carefully examined in the National Parks and Wildlife Service and best international scientific advice was sought.”
That advice was that the period in question was sufficiently early in the year not to interfere with the breeding of the red grouse and that the Irish Kennel Club’s activities would not impact negatively on red grouse populations.
Stephen Rogers
© Irish Examiner

Writer's holiday home row sparks An Taisce rift

A REGIONAL division of An Taisce said it was "thrown to the wolves" by its head office over the controversy surrounding plans by journalist Fintan O'Toole to quadruple the size of his holiday home.
Earlier this month, Mr O'Toole secured planning permission for his extended holiday home south of the Burren village of Ballyvaughan in Co Clare.
Clare County Council made its decision after An Taisce's Head Office withdrew an objection lodged against the development by the Clare Association, labelling the proposal "criminal".
As a result, An Taisce came under sustained attack and its then Director, Gavin Harte unreservedly apologised to Mr O'Toole and withdrew the objection.
Mr Harte said that the objection was lodged by the Clare Association without the knowledge or approval of Head Office.
But yesterday the Chairman of the Clare Association, Oliver Moylan said the apology should never have been issued from Dublin.
"We were virtually thrown to the wolves by Dublin. It was most unfair. All we got was abuse for it. We're not monsters. We're volunteers and there's only so much people can take.
"As chairman I would've received snide remarks on the street such as 'O'Toole sorted you out'. I don't need this. All of this causes personal stress.
"The Fintan O'Toole situation changed everything and the environment will suffer as a result."
Mr Moylan described the association's relationship with An Taisce's Head Office as "frosty".
Mr Moylan confirmed that the objection was written by an unidentified local man in Ballyvaughan, but was signed by the secretary of the Clare Association, Anny Wise. It was lodged when the council had a policy that An Taisce submissions could not be viewed until after a decision was made.
"We never, ever believed that the letter objecting to the O'Toole development would end up in the public domain," said Mr Moylan.
Asked to respond to Mr Moylan's comments, An Taisce's Heritage Officer, Ian Lumley would only say that the application was dealt with appropriately by the council and declined to comment further.
Gordon Deegan
© Irish Examiner

Roscommon councillors launch attack on An Taisce

An Taisce’s ‘unhealthy interest’ in planning issues in North Roscommon and Boyle has been roundly condemned by members of Roscommon County.
The criticisms were levied at An Taisce during a debate on a material contravention of the Boyle Development Plan, which came before members of Roscommon County Council at their March meeting on Monday.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the contravention to the Boyle town plan to allow a warehouse development go ahead in the Warren, Drum area. The proposed warehouse will measure some 442 square feet.
The County Manager, Mr John Tiernan, explained that the land in question was immediately adjacent to land which was zoned industrial but this particular piece of land was zoned for housing.
“Having looked at the application and considered the proper planning and development of the area and the employment situation in Boyle I feel it’s appropriate to recommend this to members,” said Mr Tiernan.
Cllr John Cummins said that the development would facilitate a self-employed businessman with extra capacity and storage. He was highly critical of the fact that An Taisce had made a comment in relation to the proposed development.
“Why is An Taisce so interested in everything in Boyle. Every single application for the north of the county seems to attract the interest of An Taisce. If the members of it were to come to Boyle and see how close this is to the two other warehouses there would see for themselves. They seem to want to deter people in North Roscommon from doing anything,” claimed Cllr Cummins.
Mayor, Cllr Charlie Hopkins said that An Taisce seemed to have “an unhealthy interest in North Roscommon”. Cllr Ernie Keenan commended the businessman in question for having the initiative and effort to “put something into Boyle”.
Cllr Sean Beirne said that the Boyle Development Plan must have been wrong in the first place if so many material contraventions had to be made to it.
The County Manager said that he would defy any councillor or group of councillors to provide a plan, which could stay together for six years. Mr Tiernan said that in the interests of development it would not be possible to have a rigid plan in place.
“It can’t and would not be wise to lock things up so rigidly in a way which would prevent things like this going ahead,” said Mr Tiernan. The County Manager pointed out that the area in question was on the fringes of an area already zoned for industrial use. Cllr Sean Beirne said that material contraventions were a regular feature.
The County Manager agreed saying: “Yes, they are going ahead all over the county and I’m delighted to see development going ahead.”
Mairead O’Shea
© Western People

Ikea could be left on shelf for year till M50 upgraded

A Bord Pleanála inspector has warned that the Ikea outlet planned for Ballymun in Dublin could become a "white elephant" that would lie idle for a year or more pending the M50's upgrade.
Keith Sargeant, who conducted the week-long planning appeal hearing on the proposed development, was referring to a condition in the planning permission granted by Fingal County Council which prevents Ikea from opening before the motorway capacity is increased.
The council's condition states the M50 upgrade at the Ballymun interchange junction, or works that would produce equivalent improvements, must be completed before Ikea can open.
The National Roads Authority (NRA) has said that the upgrade will not be completed until 2009 and that any change to the "highly complex contract" with the contractors building the road that would allow alternative work at the junction would be very unlikely. If planning permission was granted for the development it would be ready to open by August 2008, Ikea has said.
Mr Sargeant said: "Ikea could spend a fortune getting a store ready to open and could be left sitting with a white elephant ... I'm not worried about Ikea's financial situation but I do want people to face up to reality," Mr Sargeant said. The council had not made it clear who would be responsible for the improvement works.
Seán McGrath, a senior council engineer, said it had allowed a "degree of flexibility" when writing the condition, so Ikea could negotiate with the motorway contractor for completion of the improvement works.
Hugh Creegan of the NRA, which opposes the proposed Ikea siting, said the NRA awarded the works contract and he did not see how changes could be made.
The hearing concluded yesterday. An Bord Pleanála is likely to deliver its decision by July.
Olivia Kelly
© 2007 The Irish Times

Greystones Marina Oral hearing re-opened today

For those following this story, the Greystones Marina oral hearing re-opened today. With the level of opposition, both organised and individual, this is one oral hearing which has work to do!

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Draft Scoping Report Document on the Greater Dublin Strategic Drainage Study

Mott McDonald Pettit Ltd. and Environmental Resources Management Ireland Ltd on behalf of the Local Authorities in the Greater Dublin Region have prepared a Draft Scoping Document on the SEA of the G.D.S.D.S. Strategy. This Draft Scoping Document is available for public inspection at the following locations:

1. Fingal County Council, County Hall, Main Street, Swords
2. Blanchardstown Civic Offices, Grove Road, Dublin 15
3. Donabate/Portrane Community Centre, Co Dublin
4. All Fingal Branch Libraries

during office hours from Wednesday 21st of March 2007 to Friday 20th of April 2007. Details on the Scoping Document will also be available on the Fingal County Councils web-site at and also Aertel page 624.

Submissions or observations with respect to the Draft Scoping Document can be made in writing or e-mail not later than 5.00 p.m. on Friday 20th of April 2007 to:

Paul Smyth
Senior Executive Officer
Water Services Department
Blanchardstown Civic Offices
Grove Road
Dublin 15

New housing design guidelines

The new guidelines - Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities are a comprehensive revision of the 1999 Social Housing Design Guidelines and have been produced following a consultation process with all stakeholders active in this area. The purpose of the Guidelines is to assist in achieving the objectives contained in the Government's recent housing policy statement – Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities.

Speaking at the opening of the National Housing Conference 07 in Dublin the Minister said he was "particularly pleased that the new guidance entitled Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities incorporating the most recent thinking on housing provision and regeneration will be launched at this conference."

The new Guidelines focus on the process surrounding the delivery of quality housing for sustainable communities and improved settlement patterns and "place-making" in the context of promoting quality neighbourhoods. New aspects of the Guidelines deal with:

- urban design,
- increased space standards, and
- energy efficiency.

A key aim of the Guidelines is to ensure that all new housing schemes are socially, environmentally and economically sustainable by providing a high quality environment that meets the needs and, as far as possible, the preferences of the residents, and fosters the development of sustainable communities.

The Guidelines contain a new section dealing with site selection and also with urban design objectives in the provision of housing which sets out to promote quality in design both from the macro urban design level to the micro issues involved in better "place-making". Also included in the Guidelines is an increase in spatial standards and energy efficiency. It is paramount that designing for sustainability achieves energy efficiency at construction stage and during the lifetime of the scheme.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Where does Donegal stand on wind power - councillor

COUNCILLOR Jimmy Harte has called for a more structured plan to encourage the development of wind farms in the county following a recent decision by County Council to refuse planning permission to two potential wind-farm developers.
"I don't quite think we've grasped the idea of wind energy here in Donegal yet. We need to designate certain zones or areas where we either do or do not allow the development of wind farms," stated Councillor Harte at this week's Letterkenny Electoral Area meeting.
"As it is at the moment, farmers and investors; potential developers of these wind farms do not know where they stand."
"I was in Brussels last week where we were more-or-less told to forget about farming as it was on the way out. We know that Donegal has been badly hit by Europe in terms of farming. And in this respect we need to start to look at finding alternatives. We need to promote wind farms and the potential to harvest wind energy in Donegal."
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Harte emphasised: "We definitely need more clarity with regard to wind farms. We need to point people in the right direction and have designated guidelines so that they are not going through the whole planning process which is costly and time consuming only be to turned down at the end of it."
"One of the most important things which needs to be taken into consideration is that these wind farms need to be looked at, not just as structures, but as a positive contribution to creating renewable energy for the future of the planet."
Last month Dutch firm 'BV WEOM Stationsweg' were refused permission for the development of a 10mw wind-farm comprised of five 2mw wind turbines at Raphoe, namely the townlands of Lettergull and Momeen, Ballylennon, Binnion, Creatland, Creagdos and Ballyboe.
The County Manager's order in refusing the construction of this wind-farm states the area consists of primarily low-lying farm and open land interspersed throughout with a small number of hillocks such as Binnion and Lettergull. The recently adopted County Development Plan requires the Council to consider wind energy proposals in light of certain contexts. The Planning Authority's sentiments express that with regard to Binnion Hill, its proximity to the nearby heavily trafficked stretch of National Primary Road (N14) and the lying open lands along the regional road network to the east the proposed development would be injurious to the natural amenity of the environment and would constitute an unduly prominent intrusion on the environment. In this respect it would militate against the preservation of the rural character and would be contrary to the County Development Plan
Newtownfore Wind Ltd. was also refused permission on the 22nd of February for the erection of an electricity generating wind-farm to be located within the townlands of Drumnaskea, Newtownfore, Ballyboencurragh, and Castleshanaghan.
© Donegal News

Rogue developers get another warning

THE County Manager has warned of a get tough policy against rogue developers. Speaking this week Mr Michael McLoone said council enforcement will be stepped up and "people who didn't comply with planning conditions would suffer the full forces of the law".
Mr McLoone was speaking at Monday night's Town Council meeting in Letterkenny where four motions were tabled concerning planning problems around the town. There were claims from councillors that some developers "had the belief that they could do what they wanted and get away with it".
A number of residents from the Carolina Park area of Letterkenny attended the meeting to highlight their dispute with a local developer who has built an illegal road beside the estate , leading to flooding and damage to gardens.
It emerged that an enforcement notice was issued by the council against the developer 14 months ago and he had still failed to comply with the terms of that Notice.
The Council issued an Enforcement Notice to Dunree Construction on January 31, 2006 concerning the construction of an unauthorised roadway at Kiltoy, Letterkenny. Residents are furious the developer has failed to comply with the terms of the Notice. The matter is currently in the hands of solicitors but residents feel not enough is being done to bring the developer to task.
Mr Larry O'Neill is Chairman of the Carolina Park Residents Association.
"There is no enforcement going on here. The Manager told us tonight he was not personally aware of this case but has agreed to review the file and visit the area with his officials," he said.
Mr O'Neill said there were 54 houses in the estate and it had won numerous prizes in the past few years in the Tidy Towns.
"The place is flooded any time there is rain. We have hit a stone wall and we're here as a last resort to get something done," he said.
Councillor Jimmy Harte called on the council to pursue developers that were non compliant. In the case of Carolina Park he said: "Here we have a case where an enforcement notice was sent almost fourteen months ago and I wonder was the letter even opened. The public perception out there is that certain developers are getting away with it and we're allowing them to get away with it. We don't seem to have the powers. This developer did inform the council in July 2006 of his notice to submit retention but that has now gone on for eight months."
"The people in Carolina Park are getting a raw deal. Their gardens have been destroyed and they can't let their kids out to play. We have a developer here who is giving two fingers to the planning authority. It is a shame," Cllr Harte added.
Agreeing Cllr Gerry McMonagle said the problem was widespread over the town.
"This is not about just one developer. There are developers who are getting away with murder. We see cases where half way through a development it is
changed in style and then the developer applies for retention. This is a major issue in the town. There are developers flouting the planning laws and we need to tighten up and if that means further resources they have to be provided," Councillor McMonagle said.
Cllr Damien Blake said it was vital as a town that was benefiting from such development that the Town Council was seen to have the 'toughest regulations'.
"What is happening in some cases is shocking and residents are getting caught up in a protracted legal process. It is making a mockery of the planning process," he said.
Cllr Dessie Larkin, a resident of Carolina Park, said residents were woken at 6am, had their gardens wrecked and hedges removed.
"A massive injustice has been done to the people out in Carolina Park. Our houses are our castles but here we are when an enforcement order has been served over 14 months ago and there has been no compliance. We need more enforcement and I'm calling for the appointment of such an officer immediately in Letterkenny and our access to planning staff increased to three mornings per week. Solicitors have to be made aware of the urgency of such cases," he said.
Cllr Jim Lynch said a maximum period of eight weeks for compliance after an Enforcement Order was served needed to be introduced while Cllr Jean Crossan said it was time that 'knuckles were wrapped'. Concluding the debate Cllr Harte said: "We may have to consider injunction proceedings."
The County Manager agreed to personally review the file with planning officials. On the issue of non compliance generally he said the County Council had agreed to invest a further ¤1million in the planning service.
"We're trying to recruit planners and administrative staff to ensure all legal matters are followed up. However, the message has to go out loud and clear that we are absolutely focused on active enforcement. People who don't comply will suffer the full force of the law and the sooner the better," he said.
© Donegal News

It’s ‘tyranny’ say residents and landowners

RESIDENTS and landowners opposed to the proposed new walkway along the old railway line from Dungarvan to Waterford, have accused the County Council of “tyranny” over 70 families they say will be badly affected by the plan.
The ‘Ballinroad to Kilmeaden’ group have branded the walkway as “stupendous” and say the Council appears to have lost all respect for the well-being of those living in the vicinity of the line. At a recent meeting, county councillors voted by a majority of 13 to 9 to proceed with phase one of the walkway from Ballinroad Cross to the level crossing in the townland of Durrow (on the Dungarvan end).
The vote came following a hour-long debate in the Council Chambers where nearly half the councillors - including Liam Brasil from Kilmac, Kieran O’Riain from Ballymacarbry and Kilmeaden’s Pat Leahy - voiced their stringent opposition to the plans based on the concerns of locals residents and landowners.
A total of 55 objections/submissions were received when the phase one plans went on public display.
Forty-two of those were from people purporting to be members of the ‘Ballinroad to Kilmeaden’ group either claiming ownership of part of the lands or expressing concerns about issues such as trespassing, fencing and insurance.
Following the outcome of the meeting, the group of residents and landowners have now lambasted the decision to proceed with the project.
They’re opposed to the walkway for an “abundance of reasons” they say.
Their safety, security and peace of mind would be at risk; anti-social behaviour would become a big problem; temporary caravan-type camp sites would continually be set up along it; the cost and maintenance would be
“enormous” and there could even be frequent confrontations between residents/farmers and walk-ers if “nerves became frayed”.
“Thankfully there are literally dozens of walkways in Co. Waterford at present which a lot of us avail of,” said the group’s chairman, Pat Fennell. “An additional and expensive walkway is not required and is against the declared wishes of the vast majority of people living on and adjoining the line.
He said the plan of the County Council was, in essence, a form of tyranny.
“Over 70 families will be badly affected by this. Most of it (the walkway) is concealed and concealed walkways are dangerous places.
Has the County Council lost all respect whatsoever for the wellbeing of these families? Did those council-lors who voted for the walkway not realise that this imposition is something that not only this generation of residents and farmers will have to cope with but so will all future generations.”
“How can any local authority be so reckless in the trampling on the rights and dignity of over 70 families - shame on you.”
“Double shame on you for pretending that tourists would come to Waterford to view the fields and fences of Durrow and Faha from a railway line.
Instead a fraction of the money earmarked for this stupendous walkway should be spent on the maintenance and upkeep of existing walkways which are overgrown and vandalised in many areas,” he said, adding that some local walking clubs had already contacted residents to assure them they would not be using the walkway in respect of their privacy.
At the Council meeting where the vote was taken, the Council’s Director of Community and Enterprise Brian White said the authority had made every effort to consult with residents and landowners and address their concerns.
Meanwhile, County Manager Ray O’Dwyer assured that the plug would be pulled on the project if it didn’t prove as successful as was hoped.
Jennifer Long
© Waterford News and Star

Burren's rare plants at risk from scrub - study

The Heritage Council has called for the urgent introduction of a national landscape management plan following a report that concludes that the Burren in Co Clare is seriously under threat from scrub overgrowth, which is destroying the habitats of rare flowers and plants.
The report, carried out in conjunction with the BurrenLife Project, found that the natural and archaeological heritage in the Burren is far richer than previously understood but that it is under threat from ad-hoc changes such as reduced cattle grazing and farming activity which have allowed scrub to grow unchecked. The project promotes farming for conservation.
"Changes are happening in an ad-hoc way at a landscape level in the Burren and urgent action needs to be taken to manage these changes as they have an incremental effect which is devastating to the delicate landscape and eco-system in the Burren," said Michael Starrett, chief executive of the Heritage Council.
The Burren which covers over 600sq km (232sq miles) is one of Ireland's main tourist attractions as well as being one of the country's most important heritage assets.
The report found the growth of hazel and blackthorn scrub is increasing by almost 5 per cent per year. It also found that an aerial survey of just five square kilometres showed at least a 120 per cent increase in the number of archaeological monuments recorded. It concluded that the Burren is much richer in archaeology than ever previously imagined. The report also found that more consultation was needed with landowners in the Burren.
Cattle have grazed on the Burren for thousands of years and they were a very important element in managing the landscape and allowing the rare flowers and plants to grow there. The cattle have stopped grazing in many areas due to a reduction in farming and scrub is now growing out of control. The growth is changing the environment so that many delicate plants can no longer live there as their habitat is being destroyed. It is also threatening the world-renowned archaeology there.
"We urgently need to resource a national landscape management programme. It is especially needed for areas such as the Burren, the Tara-Skryne valley and the Cooley Peninsula and many others," Mr Starrett said.
"Ireland lags far behind other European countries which have legislation in place to allow designation of important landscapes and accompany the designation with resources to manage them in a sustainable manner. This approach is vital for our economy, quality of life and environment and we strongly recommend that urgent steps are taken to manage our most important heritage and tourism landscapes," he concluded.
Commenting on the report, Brendan Dunford, from the BurrenLife project, said: "The findings of this report are very important and we need to take it very seriously before too much irreversible damage is done. Our project is about 'Farming for Conservation of the Burren'."
Seán MacConnell
© Irish Times

Galway residents vow to fight mast plans

The residents of Cloonlyon and Ballygar have vowed to fight plans by O2 to erect a mobile phone mast in the area. Almost two hundred people turned out at a public meeting in Ballygar last Thursday night to voice their concerns over a proposal to erect a 36m mast in Cloonlyon village.
O2 Communications Ireland applied to Galway County Council on February 20th for planning permission to erect a 36m antennae at Cloonlyon, Ballygar.
Mr Pat Hannon, chairman of the local residents group, explained that people had serious concerns over possible health effects, the devaluation of property and the obtrusive nature of the proposed mast.
“We have serious concerns on the grounds of possible health risks to humans and livestock. We heard from a farmer from County Tipperary at the meeting who experienced such health effects. The proposed mast is also in an area of local scenic beauty as at is on a walkway in the woods, which is regularly used by the people of the area. At 130 feet we feel that the mast will be enormous and we also fear that it will devalue property in the area,” said Mr Hannon.
The chairman went on to point out that three mobile phone antennae were already located on a mast on Mount Mary, which was only 3.5km from Cloonlyon. “I can’t understand why O2 can’t co-locate with the existing mast on Mount Mary. It’s only 3.5km from Cloonlyon and it covers an area from Glenamaddy to Athleague,” said Mr Hannon.
TDs and local councillors offered their support to the residents in their fight against 02.
The speakers at the meeting included Mr Con Colbert, Secretary of the Irish Doctors Environmental Association.
Mr Colbert referred to the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation on permissible levels of radiation as “thousands of times higher in Ireland and the UK than in the US and Australia”.
The local residents are this week preparing individual and group objections to the O2 proposal. They have a further two weeks to lodge an objection with
Galway County Council. Mr Hannon pointed out that plans were also underway to hold a public protest on the issue outside the offices of Galway County Council in the coming weeks. He said that residents would fight the O2 proposal and if necessary appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanala.
Mairead O’Shea
© Roscommon Herald

EPA sets date for Corrib terminal oral hearing

The Environmental Protection Agency's oral hearing into its licensing of the Corrib gas terminal has been set for April 16th.
The hearing will be held by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff in the Broadhaven Bay Hotel, Belmullet, following 12 submissions in relation to its preliminary licensing of the project.
Corrib's lead developer, Shell E&P Ireland, An Taisce, local priest Fr Michael Nallen, the Erris Inshore Fishermen's Association and individual members of the Shell to Sea campaign were among the 12 appellants, following the Environment Protection Agency's issuing of preliminary integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) approval in January this year.
The IPPC licence for the refinery is one of a number of consents and procedures handled by different State agencies in relation to the €900 million project. It addresses emissions and the environmental management of the facility.
The EPA's preliminary approval states it is "satisfied that emissions from the refinery, when operated in accordance with the conditions of the proposed licence, will not adversely affect human health or the environment and will meet all relevant national and EU standards". To date, the EPA has not overturned an interim decision of this nature.
In a related development, the North-Western Regional Fisheries Board expects that it will be a fortnight before it has results back from tests taken near the Bellanaboy terminal on Thursday last.
A "tar-like" run-off into a stream feeding the Bellanaboy river - which in turn runs into Carrowmore lake - was reported to Mayo County Council by residents late last week, and up to 30 people occupied the terminal site for an hour on Thursday to protest over continuing concerns about water quality.
Although Shell E&P Ireland has described the report as "spurious", the fisheries board has said it is investigating the situation as the affected stream runs into Bellanaboy river and Carrowmore lake.
Carrowmore lake supplies drinking water to 10,000 people, and the proximity of the terminal to it is the basis for An Taisce's objection to the EPA's integrated pollution prevention and control licence. Mayo County Council was unavailable for comment on the report.
Lorna Siggins
© 2007 The Irish Times

Report of the Expert Group on Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields

The Government have published the report of the Expert Group on the Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields.

The Report examined a wide range of issues in relation to potential health effects of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) - including those produced by mobile telecommunications. The report answers many questions commonly raised by the public in relation to the health effects of electromagnetic fields.

The Expert Group have concluded that - 'So far, no adverse short or long-term health effects have been found from exposure to the radiofrequency (RF) signals produced by mobile phones and base station transmitters. RF signals have not been found to cause cancer'.

The current responsibilities of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural resources in relation to the health effects of EMF will become the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government from 1st May 2007.

Furthermore, the Government decided that a single state agency be established to deal both with ionising radiation and non-ionising radiation. This will be achieved by extending the statutory powers of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) to include responsibility for matters relating to non-ionising radiation.

The details of implementation of the new mandate for the RPII will be presented to Government for approval in due course by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, following detailed consultation with other relevant Government Departments and Agencies.

Government have also agreed to establish a national research programme to undertake further scientific research in Ireland on the health effects of exposure to EMF. This research programme will build expertise in Ireland and contribute to global knowledge.

Mayo Power set to lodge planning application

Mayo Power Ltd. - the company planning to build a €140m electricity generating plant in North Mayo - is to lodge its planning application with Mayo County Council by the end of the month, it has been confirmed.

Speaking at an information meeting in Killala, Mayo Power Director, Myles Staunton said the planning application process was at the final stages and would be submitted by March 31.

It is estimated that the plant, when fully operational, will provide up to 300 jobs during construction and up to 80 full0time jobs during operation.

"A great many people and companies have been involved in the complex planning process, but Mayo Power is determined to build a state-of-the-art plant, including a circulating fluidised Bed (CFB) boiler that will be of huge economic benefit to the north-west region" - Myles Staunton said.

The plant - which will use a mix of peat, woodchips and a small amount of coal as feedstock - will generate 100MW of power, enough to meet the demand of Mayo (Click Here). The plant is situated in an area of arable land and - given the present Government's commitment to encourage the development of Fast Rotating Crops (such as willow coppice) - the project will promote the maximum use of this resource when available.

The output from the plant will stabilise the transmission system in the area (one of the weakest on the Irish grid) and the plant can access the grid via an existing 110KV system adjacent to the site. The plant will generate cost-effective power and steam, which will be available to attract other industries to the former industrial site.

Also addressing the meeting, Mayo Power Director Martin Packard said the project was entirely in line with the recently published Government White Paper on Energy (Click Here). "The White Paper fully supports the notion of sustainable and renewable energy, including the co-firing of biomass with peat and other fossil fuels. It is the Government's intention to achieve 33 per cent of electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020 and Mayo Power will compliment this goal" - he said.

Mr Pickard added that the Government wished to see many players involved in a new and open market and Mayo Power was ideally placed to fit into this scenario.

Mayo Power is jointly owned by Rockland Mayo Holding Company (a UK and US consortium) and former Mayo TD and Senator, Myles Staunton.

Forest Management Protocol for Hen Harrier Special Protection Areas

Mr Dick Roche, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Ms Mary Wallace, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food with responsibility for forestry have announced that agreement has been reached on a management protocol for planting in areas that are important for the hen harrier.

Under the EU Birds Directive, Ireland must designate areas important for particular types of birds as Special Protection Areas. The National Parks and Wildlife Service - part of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government - has been considering a number of areas as possible Hen Harrier Special Protection Areas.
These areas are typically upland zones with high levels of forestry and the challenge has been how to marry to the best advantage, the continued development of forestry in these areas with protection of the species.

Young forests are of critical importance to the hen harrier - but, it is extremely important also to maintain sufficient open-areas for foraging. In order to move the process forward, a Working Group - consisting of NPWS, the Forest Service and both landowner and forestry interest groups - was established last year and has now agreed a path forward.

Minister Roche stated that - "the agreement reached within the Working Group represents a balance between good and sensible environmental practice and legitimate desire for sustainable development in these areas.

"I fully expect that the EU Commission will recognise and value the consultative approach that has taken place here and the commitment shown by the Forest sector to the conservation requirements for the hen harrier" - he added.

The key component of the agreement reached is that an annual quota of new planting will be established for each of the 6 proposed Special Protection Areas - based on the areas identified as available for planting by NPWS, so as to manage and monitor the impact on habitat. Under the new rules, the heath-bog habitat - which is so important for the hen harrier - will be fully preserved.

The objective will be to establish a mosaic of different landscape types in Hen Harrier areas that will encourage the further development of the species. This should include young forestry - both new and replanted - which the recent research has shown to be a vital component in the foraging pattern of the bird.

The Forest Service will be responsible for processing applications and will implement the new protocol immediately. All applications for approval to plant in these areas had been suspended, pending agreement on the new management regime - but, it is expected that decisions can now be made quickly in these cases.

Minister of State Wallace has warmly welcomed the new development, which, she said, reflected the fundamental principles of sustainable forest management - the cornerstone of forestry policy in Ireland. "Properly planned forestry is good for people and good for the environment" - the Minister said. "I have no doubt but that forestry can play an important role in the recovery of species, such as the hen harrier, in the same way that species - such as the red squirrel and the pine marten - now find refuge in these forests, denied to them elsewhere.

"I am particularly pleased with this development as this issue was raised with me on my first day as Minister of State for Forestry and on a weekly basis since then. I am glad that, during my time as Minister of State a resolution has been found."

The six proposed Special Protection Areas, which will be designated shortly, are -

* Slieve Bloom Mountains Special Protection Area (Laois and Offaly)
* Stack's to Mullaghareirk Mountains, West Limerick Hills and Mount Eagle Special Protection Area (Cork, Kerry and Limerick)
* Mullaghanish to Musheramore Mountains Special Protection Area (Cork)
* Slievefelim to Silvermines Special Protection Area (Limerick and Tipperary)
* Slieve Beagh Special Protection Area (Monaghan) - and
* Slieve Aughty Mountains Special Protection Area (Clare and Galway).

The Alternative, Sustainable & Renewable Energy Summit 2007

2007 is likely to become a boom year for alternative energy - particularly with the recent publication of the Government's Energy White Paper - Delivering a Sustainable Energy Future for Ireland.

The rising popularity of alternative energy technologies will attract venture capital funding, legislative incentives and support - and growing investment from the business sector.

At the Alternative, Sustainable & Renewable Energy Summit - taking place on April 23 & 24, 2007 at the Croke Park Convention Centre, Dublin - delegates will be provided with a unique opportunity to receive a thorough and up-to-date picture on current and future developments within the Alternative/Renewable energy industry - as well as a chance to network and do business.

Topics at the Alternative, Renewable & Sustainable Energy Summit include:

* Developing competitive markets to provide the correct price signals for investment in alternative energy
* Renewable sources - The perspective, the market, the instruments
* Spatial planning & renewable energy plans
* Renewable energy technology trends
* Energy efficiency programmes and strategies
* Financial planning and investment
* Capital markets perspective on renewables
* Private equity and venture capital
* View from Europe - strategies for sustainable, competitive and secure energy
* Balancing Ireland's energy needs
* The nuclear debate
* Who will profit from the new alternative economy?
* Future trends and scenarios on global, European, national and regional levels.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Read the Planning Inspector's report on Lansdowne Road

Like many planning cases, Lansdowne has been given the green light after the Board over-ruled the recommendation of a professional planner. I am in favour of the stadium, but want to make it very clear how this decision was 'against' planning advice. Once again, the advice of professional planners has not been heeded. Listening to the news on the day of the decision gave the impression of unanimous approval from planners for the scheme. This was not the case (though the Board, which is comprised of a mixture of individuals - a majority non-planners - voted unanimously in favour). Here's what the planner, Brendan Wyse, wrote as his conclusion and recommendation to a proposed refusal of this planning application:

It is acknowledged that the proposed stadium would be a vast improvement on the existing stadium. It would provide an up to date modern facility for participants and spectators and project an appropriate image as a 21st century international sports venue. It would provide for safer and more efficient spectator access and egress and improve the safety and operation of the Lansdowne DART station. It would perform better than the existing stadium in terms of noise and light spill.

This assessment, however, has also identified significant difficulties in relation to the proposed development arising, essentially, from the attempt to accommodate a 21st century stadium on the 19th century template of a restricted site in a tight knit, predominantly residential area. The main difficulties in relation to the proposed development are as follows:

• The results of the site selection process do not, as suggested in the EIS and other documentation, clearly indicate that the Lansdowne Road site was the best site. There is a considerable weight of evidence to suggest that the Ardagh site would be more suitable for a modern international stadium.

• The proposed stadium would lack flexibility as a strategic facility. The stadium as proposed would be at the minimum end of the capacity range acceptable for international rugby or Champions League soccer and the pitch size would not be capable of accommodating GAA matches.

• As acknowledged in the EIS the proposed stadium would give rise to substantial and adverse visual impacts in relation to the immediately adjacent residential areas.

• While the visual impact of the stadium would improve with distance the potential of the stadium to make a significant positive contribution to the urban landscape is diminished by the restrictions of the setting and the lack of opportunity to appreciate the full form of the building. Its purported iconic status would not be realised.

• The proposed stadium development would generate no significant quality urban space.

• The proposed stadium would constitute an overwhelming presence to the detriment of the character of adjacent residential areas that include designated Residential Conservation Areas. The proposal would be contrary to the Transitional Zone Policy in the Development Plan.

• The proposed stadium would give rise to excessive loss of light and overshadowing to adjacent residential properties.

• As acknowledged in the EIS the proposed new spectator access/egress routes at Swan Lane and the Dodder Walk would represent a significant, negative imposition on adjacent residents. They would give rise to serious injury to the residential amenities of these properties.

• The proposed development would be likely to give rise to devaluation of houses in the immediate vicinity.

The applicants overall approach, as reflected in he conclusion to the EIS and in other documentation, is to suggest that the local disbenefits associated with the proposed development would be offset or compensated for by the benefits accruing to others in the immediate area, the wider community, city economy etc. The Planning Authority adopts a similar approach. While in general such an approach is reasonable, and commonly applied in deciding planning cases, it cannot apply, in my view, where serious adverse impacts are identified, in particular to residential properties, as in this instance. In this situation an aggrieved party cannot be compensated by a benefit to other parties.

While the proposed stadium is clearly a project of strategic significance it does not have to be constructed on the Lansdowne Road site, notwithstanding the historic use of the site and the understandable desire of the applicants to remain at the location. In this context, it should be noted that the Ardagh site is located just 1 kilometre from the Lansdowne Road site.

It may be considered that the redevelopment of Croke Park has set a precedent for the proposed development and that it demonstrates that a modern stadium can be accommodated on an inner city site. However, while superficially similar, closer examination indicates that the site of the Corke Park stadium is not as tightly restricted by adjacent residential properties as the Lansdowne Road site. The closest houses to the Cork Park stadium were demolished as part of the overall development.

Available international evidence of modern stadia developments does not provide ready precedents either. This issue was raised on a number of occasions at the oral hearing, principally by Mr. McDonnell and Mr. Pomeroy (Appellants) (see Sections, 9.9.7 and 9.9.15 above). By reference to “The Stadium”, The Stadium Guide website and through the use of the Google Earth internet facility I have not been able to identify any precedents for a modern stadium built in such close proximity to residential properties as is proposed in this instance. The weight of evidence, particularly from recent British experience, and where the tradition of older stadia located within tight inner city residential areas is of particular relevance to the subject case, suggests that the practice is to relocate the stadium to larger, more suitable sites within the urban area. The new Emirates Stadium, London, located only a short distance from Highbury is a very good example of this. The former Highbury Stadium, located within a tight network of residential streets, is being redeveloped for residential purposes. The City of Manchester Stadium is another example and the former home of Manchester City, Maine Road, is also to be redeveloped for housing. Liverpool Football Club is also planning to relocate away from its existing stadium located in an older residential neighbourhood.

The examples referred to by the applicants, Tottenham Hotspur, Ipswich and the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff are not precedent cases. The Tottenham Hotspur ground, White Hart Lane, is on an old site and has been organically redeveloped overtime. However, it is not as tightly confined by residential properties as Lansdowne Road and its total capacity is only c.36,000. The club is currently examining redevelopment/relocation options. Ipswich Stadium is also not so confined and has a much smaller capacity. As already referred to at Sections and 11.6.3 above the Millennium Stadium is located in the very different context of a central city commercial area on a prominent riverside site.

The deficiencies identified in relation to the proposed development cannot be rectified by condition. I conclude, therefore, that planning permission should be refused.


I recommend that planning permission be refused for the following reasons and considerations.


1. Having regard to the examination of alternative locations contained in the EIS and, in particular, the document entitled “Stadium Site Feasibility Study”, Arup and others, April 2003, upon which the examination of alternative locations relies, and on the basis of the submissions made in connection with the application and the appeal, the Board is not satisfied that the Lansdowne Road site is the most suitable site available for the proposed stadium taking into account the effects on the environment. The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

2. Having regard to the height, scale and mass of the proposed stadium and its close proximity to adjacent residential areas it is considered that it would:

(i) give rise to substantial and adverse visual impacts to adjacent residential properties;

(ii) constitute an overbearing presence to the detriment of adjacent residential areas that include designated Residential Conservation Areas in the Dublin City Development Plan;

(iii) give rise to an excessive loss of daylight and to excessive overshadowing of adjacent residential properties;

the proposed development would, therefore, seriously injure the amenity and depreciate the value of residential properties in the vicinity and be contrary to the Transitional Zone Policy of the Dublin City Development Plan. The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

3. The new access/egress routes at Swan Lane and the Dodder Walk would, by reason of disruption, noise, nuisance and reduction in privacy, seriously injure the amenities and depreciate the value of residential properties in the vicinity. The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

4. Due to the restricted nature of the site located within a predominantly residential area with a tight knit urban form and street layout, the proposed stadium would make only a minimal positive contribution to the urban landscape and generate no significant quality public urban space that would be considered appropriate to a development of this type and significance. The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

Read the entire report at:

Botanical survey of Innisfallen

A botanical survey of the island of Innisfallen on Killarney's lower lake is to be undertaken as part of a study to uncover the significance of its ancient ruins and its rich array of plants, flowers and trees.
The 23-acre island is reputedly where Brian Boru came to study and is where much of the annals of Innisfallen, one of the major sources of early Munster history, were composed. Its reputation as a medieval seat of learning gave its name to the surrounding Lough Léin, or "lake of learning".
However, apart from a brief period as a Victorian picnic spot, some cattle-grazing in the 1930s by local farmers, and an annual Mass, the island has lain undisturbed for centuries.
However, under new moves to improve the cultural heritage experience of visitors to Killarney, Innisfallen is now being targeted for preservation and promotion by a local interest group.
The island contains significant ruins at its northwestern tip, including those of an abbey established in AD 600. There are also the remains of an 11th century church and an Augustinian priory occupied by monks until the 17th century.
Part of Killarney National Park, the island is accessible from Ross Castle. It is managed by both the Office of Public Works (OPW) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
Senior architects from the OPW have assessed the ruins and repair work was carried out on the monuments last autumn.
The botanical survey will be conducted by an NPWS steering group set up to explore the island's riches. It will examine curiosities such as a quadruplet tree with holly, ash, hawthorn and ivy all seeming to grow from a single stem. The island is also thought to contain rare herbs, mosses and orchids.
Anne Lucey
© 2007 The Irish Times

Ammunition fort to reopen as museum

A HISTORIC fort which was used by the British and Irish armies to store ammunition is to be transformed into a public museum.
The magazine fort in the Phoenix Park dates back to 1734 but is currently in a dilapidated state and closed off to the public.
The Office of Public Works (OPW) confirmed it was in discussions with Dublin City Council about turning it into a museum.
"But before we go in to renovate it and restore it, we want to be able to identify a sustainable function and use for it," a spokesman said.
Under the plans, a new bridge would be built to link the restored magazine fort to the War Memorial Gardens across the River Liffey. A shuttle bus service would be set up so visitors could easily get to other attractions in the area, such as Kilmainham Jail and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The fort was the main ammunition depot for the British army and after independence it performed a similar function for the Irish army.
However, in 1939 the IRA mounted its 'Christmas raid' and stole one million rounds of ammunition using 13 trucks. Most of the ammunition was recovered by the state within a month. But the magazine fort was abandoned soon afterwards.
Michael Brennan
© Irish Independent

State may protect sites of battles

Minister for the Environment Dick Roche has suggested that major battlefields may be given protected status similar to that given to historic buildings.
He said such status is to be introduced in Britain for historic battlefields, and the development could be considered by a new expert group advising the Government on the issue.
Mr Roche was speaking at the first meeting of the group which is to produce a study identifying the number of potential battlefield sites across the country.The group includes archaeological and academic experts and will advise on what protections should be given to Irish battlefields.
At present more than 75 battlefields are listed on maps in Ireland, but there is a significant question as to the level of protection they attract from development. The sites include some of the key turning points in Irish history, such as the Battle of Aughrim in east Galway, and the Battle of Kinsale in Co Cork.
There has been limited research to date on the size and extent of many of the battlefields. There is also growing concern about the threat posed by current levels of development. It is felt that a new system for protecting key battlefields is needed.
Yesterday Mr Roche said the study and expert group would "give us a greater understanding of each battle site.
"It will also assist in the development of strategies in the areas of protection, education and recreation. There is an undoubted and sustained interest in this topic. It has historic resonance and relevance within the all-island dimension. Most importantly, the results of this study will help our citizens to understand and better appreciate the history that has shaped our nation."
He said certain Irish battlefields had "iconic status in the public's minds as crucial turning points in the nation's history". There was a growing awareness of and interest in battlefield sites in Ireland and worldwide, he said.
The group's work is expected to generate some controversy however, due to disagreements over the location and extent of some battlefields. The designation of some battlefields may also face resistance from landowners, over potential restrictions on development .
Liam Reid
© 2007 The Irish Times

Planning board rejects Cork waste proposal

Campaigners in north Cork against a proposed anaerobic digester, designed to dispose of 250,000 tonnes of slurries and solid manures annually, have welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála to refuse permission for the project.
Valley Residents Association in Araglin, 11km north of Fermoy, learned yesterday that the board had upheld Cork County Council's refusal to grant permission to biofuel company Bioverda, and its subsidiary, Valeco. The 17-hectare site at Ballard is owned by Michael Hyland of Barnahown, Araglin.
Bioverda appealed the refusal and An Bord Pleanála held an oral hearing in November.
Solicitor for the residents Joe Noonan said the proposal was completely inappropriate for the isolated rural area.
Mr Noonan said the site had already achieved international notoriety over the failure of the authorities to properly enforce planning conditions granted in 1998 for the collection of biosolids from agricultural and chemical industries at the site.
"In a landmark 2005 European Court judgment against Ireland, the court criticised the Irish authorities' inactivity in the face of local complaints about long-term illegal dumping at the site going back as far as 1990.
"In January, Cork County Council brought a successful prosecution under the Water Pollution Act against the owner who promised that he would present proposals to the council for the clean-up of the site," Mr Noonan added.
"With that history, the attempt by Valeco to build a mammoth waste-digester plant in this remote rural area - bigger than anything of the kind ever seen anywhere in the world, never mind in Ireland - was incomprehensible."
The Valeco proposal would have seen the construction of 20 tanks, approximately 23m high and 19m in diameter, as well as a 40m gas engine stack which the company said could produce 32 megawatts of electrical power.
Bioverda chief executive John Mullins told the oral hearing that in 2005, 885,000 tonnes of organic waste suitable for digestion was reported to the EPA which highlighted the need for a major anaerobic digester in the region.
However, local residents had argued that it would create noxious smells which would have detrimental impact, pointing to the proximity of the site to a local school and the impact it would have on children's wellbeing.
Mr Noonan said locals expected county council enforcement staff would now complete their task of ensuring a swift clean-up of the site.
A spokesman for Bioverda said they were reviewing the decision.
Barry Roche
© 2007 The Irish Times

Roads authority warning on Ikea development

The Ikea oral hearing continued through the week - here's a review of the early exchanges in The Irish Times.

Ballymun junction will not have sufficient capacity to cater for traffic demand in future years if the Ikea development is given approval, the National Roads Authority has told an oral hearing on the proposal.
Hugh Creegan, head of programme management at the NRA, yesterday said the authority had serious concerns about the implications of the proposed 30,000sq metre Swedish superstore.
The proposed development, on 12.6 hectares close to the Ballymun Road junction of the M50, was granted permission by Fingal County Council last October. This was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by seven parties, who began presenting their cases at an oral hearing before senior planning inspector Keith Sargeant yesterday.
Mr Creegan said Ikea traffic would dominate the usage of the M50 at weekends, with up to 8 per cent of traffic on the motorway attributable to the home furnishing superstore even after a €1 billion motorway upgrade project was completed.
He said that work carried out by MVA consultants, on behalf of the NRA, showed that 70 per cent of trips to Ikea at weekends would arrive via the M50.
"The M50 motorway is currently the busiest and most congested national route in Ireland with in excess of 95,000 vehicles per day using its busiest
sections," he said. "Following its upgrade, the M50 will be a vital and valuable resource for the city and the country.
"Adjacent development and traffic loading needs to be carefully managed to ensure that the proper performance of that asset is not threatened or diminished."
Mr Creegan also said that a proposal to increase parking charges at busy times to deter parking in the Ikea car park, which has a capacity of 1,527 vehicles, was unlikely to be useful or effective in terms of addressing traffic congestion.
Owen Shinkwin of the Dublin Transportation Office (DTO), made a presentation to the hearing in the capacity of an observer.
He said the DTO had concerns in relation to the scale and location of the development and the site was more suitable for a high-density development given its proximity to the proposed metro lines.
He also said it did not demonstrate a consistency with DTO strategic guidelines for the greater Dublin area.
However, Deiric O'Broin, representing the Ballymun Partnership and Ballymun Job Centre, said the development would give the area an opportunity to join the economic mainstream.
He said 900 people were registered with the job centre in 2006 and unemployment in the area was three times the national rate, at 14 per cent.
"Ikea offers great opportunities, with over 500 full- and part-time jobs available," he said. "It is expected that approximately 50 per cent of these jobs will be filled by local people."
Ciarán Murray, director of Ballymun Regeneration Ltd (BRL) said Ikea could provide "an almost unique match for the skills of local people" and was an opportunity to "address the bad planning of the past".
"From the early stages of developing the master plan for the new Ballymun, we were looking for a flagship project that would make Ballymun a destination people would want to come to," he said.
"Ikea would achieve this objective and the wider local economy of the area would benefit."
In advance of the hearing, Ikea project manager Therese Daly, said they were confident they could get around any traffic problems, pointing out that the store would not open until 10am, avoiding morning commuter traffic.
She said there was nowhere else the development could go, given current planning guidelines.
Fiona Gartland
© 2007 The Irish Times

Land access case coming to head

A High Court Case is to be taken by campaigners against the owners of the Old Head Golf Links in Kinsale over the issue of public access to the historic headland.
Diarmuid O Dalaigh, a member of the Free the Old Head Campaign, has been granted leave by the Attorney general to launch legal proceedings against Ashbourne Holdings Ltd. to establish the existence of a right of way at the Old Head of Kinsale.
‘The issue has been to Court on a number of previous occasions in relation to planning matters or under narrow legal boundaries but this time the right of way issue will itself be tested’, said John Jeffries, a spokesman for the Free the Old Head of Kinsale Campaign, who is confident the case could be won.
We have been building up to this for quite a while. We are very optimistic of a positive outcome. We feel we have a very solid case’, he added.
Mr. Jeffires said the issue was being widely watched throughout Ireland by walking groups and others who had found in recent years that traditional walkways had been blocked off by property owners.
Previous court cases in relation to the Old Head of Kinsale had been based on very narrow parameters, he said. The Free the Old Head campaign, through Diarmuid O Dalaigh, was now bringing this to Court specifically of the right of way matter.
‘We strongly believe that we can win this case and we are presenting a very robust argument before the High Court.’
Basil Hegarty, solicitor for Ashborne Holdings, said the company would defend the action ‘100%’.
‘The company has previously defended its position before Cork County Council, An Taisce, Bord Pleanala, the High Court and the Supreme Court that there are no public rights on the Old Head and we are amazed that this new court action has been taken.’
Ailin Quinlan
© Irish Examiner

Friday, 23 March 2007

Young people' planning concerns are outlined at forum

Over 50 per cent of respondents who took part in a recent youth forum in Greystones cited planning as one of the major issues facing Co. Wicklow.

The forum, organised by independent general election candidate Evelyn Cawley, was held to determine the insights and issues of greatest concern to younger constituents in the area.

Ms Cawley said that that while the majority of those present complimented the new sports facilities in Charlesland, youth facilities were cited by 76 percent of respondents as a major issue for the community, while over 50 percent stated that planning was the 'central' issue to the problems being faced by the county.

'Specific concerns ranged from the over-development of small rural towns and villages, including Greystones, without adequate facilities for transport and local employment opportunities.'

'One quarter of respondents also mentioned the impact of large scale developments like the proposed marina for Greystones and the housing at Charlesland as being unsustainable in the long term, and pushing local people out of the town by inflating house prices,' she said.

The presence of youth clubs and coffee houses together with night venues for 13-17 year olds in the town were also stressed by 20 per cent as a means for combatting increased drug and alcohol usage in the town among under 18s.

Concerns were also expressed about the 'spiralling' cost of houses prices, with fears that in the coming years many young people would be unable to afford houses in their home county.

Other issues that were raised on the night included the lack of buses and darts at peak times and on Sundays, the closure of schools and the provision and maintenance of dog litter bins in the area.

The state of the roads in Greystones, Delgany, Windgates and Kilcoole were also raised.

Bray People

Allegations that 'something dodgy' is going on Further delay to sewage plant hearing slammed

A further delay to a crucial High Court hearing on Arklow's long-awaited sewage treatment plant at Seabank has prompted allegations that 'something dodgy' was going on.

Environment Minister Dick Roche and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern were called upon to urgently intervene in the case, which has dragged on for the past 12 years.

The case was due to be heard before Judge Clarke in the Commercial Court this week, but the case has been put back until May 8.

'That is downright disgraceful,' barked Cllr Peter Dempsey. 'Who caused this adjournment?', yelled Cllr Bill O'Connell.

Cllr Nicky Kelly dubbed the case 'the major scandal in the (legal) system at the moment', saying 'the town has been held to ransom for the past 12 years'.

The lack of any town sewage treatments facilities has severely limited development in Arklow and caused it to be one of Ireland's worst culprits for raw sewage outflows into the ocean.

Councillors learned of the delay after a letter from the council's solicitors was read out at last week's meeting, prompting a seething reaction.

Cllr Pat Fitzgerald wondered whether the recent planning application for a rival private sewerage treatment plant at Ballyraine Lower (which would be capable of catering for the town's needs) had anything to do with the delay.

'There's something peculiar going on here. I hope this application up the river here (at Ballyraine Lower) is not being taken into account by the judge.'

Cllr Bernie O'Halloran agreed, saying 'It seems there's something dodgy going on here. Had the (Ballyraine Lower) application been run of the mill, a decision would have been made before our hearing date.'

Cllr Donal O'Sullivan said if council planners found the Ballyraine Lower site had any merit 'it blows us out of the water, because we say ours (Seabank) is the best site.'

Cllr Peter Dempsey urged council officials to 'get the barristers here' to explain the delay.

'We're getting it in the neck out there (on this issue).

Bertie should make a ruling on it. We have been waiting too bloody long and I can't see anything being done before the election'.

Cllr Nicky Kelly vented his spleen, saying 'I don't care if the senior counsel of An Bord Pleanala is sick (which caused another delay to the case late last year). Get somebody else.

'We have the Minister for the Environment in our own county yet we can't fix the thing that is ruining our local environment.'

He said with three days of hearings scheduled, the judge would almost certainly reserve judgement then there was a likely appeal to the Supreme Court.

'We'll be here next October,' he said.

Council Director of Services Bryan Doyle, responding to a motion by Cllr Donal O'Sullivan, said he would write to An Bord Pleanala 'impressing on them the importance of this case'.

Wicklow People

'Family-friendly' site borders on city's planned incinerator

HUNDREDS of "social and affordable" houses are to be built on Dublin's Poolbeg Peninsula near the site of the proposed incinerator.

The Dublin Docklands Development Authority is to begin working on a masterplan to redevelop 100 acres of Ringsend. It promises to provide a "family-friendly living environment".

Yesterday it sought permission from Environment Minister Dick Roche to prepare a planning scheme for the area, which will include the redevelopment of the 25-acre Irish Glass Bottle site.

It bought the site, along with the property developer Bernard McNamara, earlier this year for €412m.

Chief executive Paul Maloney said a co-ordinated approach to developing the "uniquely situated" site was urgently required.

"The proposed planning scheme for the Poolbeg Peninsula will create a unique opportunity to develop the area in a way that delivers sustainable mixed-use development, while at the same time preserving the natural heritage and developing amenities," he said.

"We are particularly anxious to maximise potential for social and affordable housing and to provide a family friendly living environment."

The site is close to the proposed Poolbeg incinerator which will be the subject of a public hearing by An Bord Pleanala next month.

Paul Melia
Irish Indo'

Highest risers to have a view of Wales

THE tallest skyscraper in Dublin, with a bird's eye view of Wales from a €5m penthouse apartment and viewing deck, got the green light from planners yesterday.

On a clear day, those standing on the special deck should be able to see Wales, according to the developer, Point Theatre owner Harry Crosbie.

The 120 metre-high WatchTower will soar 35 storeys at the new Point Village development in the Docklands by the end of next year. The skycraper was granted planning permission by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority.

It will have a multi-storey rooftop bar and restaurant, luxury apartments and offices. The most expensive apartment will be the penthouse, expected to go on the market for about €5m.


There will also be a viewing tower and so-called bullet lifts on the outside of the building. Mr Crosbie said: "As we are already in the ground working, this will be the first skyscraper completed in Ireland. And I'm told that on a really clear day you should be able to see Wales from the viewing deck.

"We will be running a major international competition to commission a piece of art to go on the roof of the WatchTower," he added.

He said the details would be made public in the next few weeks and a substantial prize fund would be involved. "This is the final piece of the jigsaw and we're delighted," said Mr Crosbie. It is the focus of the new Point Village, which will cover a 12-acre site surrounding the Point Theatre and include a 30,000 sqm shopping centre, hotel and cinemas.

The Watchtower, along with the U2 Tower, will form a maritime gateway to the city of Dublin. The Point Theatre is to be expanded to 15,000 capacity, laid out in the style of a curved Roman amphitheatre.

A double-size Vicar Street is also planned for the development. A new Luas line will provide access for shoppers and tourists to the new Point Village. The site will also be serviced by six Quality Bus Corridors and the proposed Macken St Bridge by Calatrava across the Liffey.

The development is expected to be one of the busiest shopping precincts in the city, with over 45,000 people living in the Docklands alone.

Treacy Hogan
Irish Indo'

Plan for 'historic' stadium revamp finally kicks off

THE massive redevelopment of one of the country's most historic sporting grounds has been given the green light to begin this summer.

Despite fierce opposition from local residents, An Bord Pleanala last night said Lansdowne Road will be demolished to make way for a new €365m all-seater stadium.

In a unanimous decision, the board granted planning permission for a 50,000 capacity new home for the Irish rugby and soccer teams, subject to 23 conditions.

The board also overruled its own inspector - who recommended that permission be refused - because of the ground's "historical and long-established use" as a stadium and its close proximity to the city centre and public transport links, including the DART line.

The decision comes almost nine months after Dublin City Council granted planning permission for the redevelopment to go ahead and after an eight-day public hearing.

Work is expected to be completed by the end of 2009.

The main concession to the 33 resident groups which opposed the scheme is to refuse permission for an entrance through Havelock Square and O'Connell Gardens.

However, the board decided to create two new access points through Swan Lane off the Shelbourne Road and via the Dodder Walk. There is no restriction placed on the number of sporting events that can be held, but the stadium will only be allowed host three concerts per year which must end by 11pm.

Unusually, the board also ordered that the stadium pay €75,000 a year into a fund which will be used for community projects.

This condition is usually imposed for 'bad neighbour' projects such as waste facilities or quarries.

The decision can be appealed to the High Court, and residents will meet over the coming days to discuss their options.

The Lansdowne Road Stadium Development Company said it was "delighted" with the decision which was "recognition of the fact that we consulted widely on the project" and tried to address concerns.

Most of the complaints centred on the design of the stadium and its height - at 48.5 metres, it will be 15 metres taller than Croke Park.

Other objections related to the inclusion of conference facilities, additional traffic in the area and claims that property prices would fall.

But in deciding not to accept the inspector's recommendation to refuse permission, the Board was "not satisfied that a more suitable site for a stadium can currently be provided, having regard to considerations of transportation, access and of availability".

It also noted that it was an objective of the National Development Plan to provide funding for the redevelopment, and said its impact on homes in the area was not sufficient to warrant refusal.

UEFA has indicated it will host a European Cup final in the redeveloped stadium, and FAI CEO John Delaney last night described the decision as "one of the most significant developments ever for Irish football".

IRFU CEO Philip Browne added: "We believe that the go-ahead for the re-development of a state-of-the-art stadium is a fitting testimony to the game of rugby in Ireland and that it will also be a tremendous boost for Dublin City in terms of potential revenues emanating from the staging of major rugby and soccer events."

The GAA wished the FAI and IRFU "every success" in their project. When complete, the stadium will consist of a "continuous curvilinear-shaped stand", enclosing all four sides of the ground. The south, east and west stands will have four tiers of seating.

There will be 10,000 seats at premium level and a further 1,300 at box level.

Many of these will be sold in advance to help finance the overall project.

Paul Melia
Irish Indo'

Kick-off for Lansdowne planners give thumbs up

An Bord Pleanála yesterday rejected its own inspector's report and decided unanimously to grant planning permission for a 50,000-seat stadium redevelopment at Lansdowne Road.
The board said the main reasons behind its decision related to the historical and long-established use of the site as a stadium combined with its closeness to Dublin city centre and access to public transport in the form of the Dart.
The need for an additional modern stadium in the city and the overall design of the proposed new stadium were also main factors in its decision to grant permission.
The board also highlighted that it was an objective of the National Development Plan "to provide funding for the redevelopment of the stadium".
A total of 23 conditions have been attached to the permission, which are minor in the context of the scope of the proposal.
These include a requirement for the developers to contribute €75,000 a year to local community groups. Two of the exits from the grounds will be closed to the public, except in cases of emergencies.
The stadium is also restricted to three outdoor concerts a year, which is the same number as Croke Park.
Overall the proposal approved by the board provides for a 50,000-seat curved stadium enclosing all four sides of the ground. Three sides of the stadium will rise to four tiers.
There will be 10,000 premium seats in the second tier, with a further 1,500 box places in the third, all of which are to be sold in advance to contribute towards the €350 million cost of the stadium.
The Government is providing €190 million of the redevelopment costs.
There will also be extensive conference facilities in the new stadium, to allow it to be hired out for non-sporting events.
In announcing its decision, the board made no reference to the stadium's height, which was the most controversial aspect of the proposal.
When built, it will rise to a height of just under 50 metres, which will make it 15 metres taller than Croke Park.
The board also rejected the two main conclusions of the inspector, that there was a more suitable site at Ringsend, and that the stadium would have too great a negative effect on residents close to the redevelopment.
The board said that, contrary to the opinion of the inspector, it "was not satisfied that a more suitable site for a stadium can currently be provided".
In relation to the impact on residents close to the stadium, the board members said there was already an impact from the existing stadium which they took into account.
They concluded that "the residual impacts on residential property would not be sufficient to warrant a refusal of permission and did not agree with the inspector's conclusion that permission should be refused on this account".
They rejected the inspector's concerns about access to the stadium, and said they "did not agree that permission should be refused for reasons related to this factor".
The board also "noted the inspector's criticisms regarding the contribution of the proposed development to the urban landscape and public urban space, but considered that a successful stadium project would provide opportunities for future enhancement of the public realm".
Liam Reid
© 2007 The Irish Times

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Roche moves to facilitate new planning regime for the regeneration of the Poolbeg Peninsula

Dick Roche, T.D., today laid a draft order before both Houses of the Oireachtas seeking resolutions approving the order. The intention of the proposed order is to allow the Dublin Docklands Development Authority to prepare a draft "section 25" planning scheme for an area of the Poolbeg Peninsula, which in due course would facilitate more effective development and regeneration of this potentially very important area of the city.

The Minister said "The availability of development lands at Poolbeg represents an important opportunity for the creation of a new and sustainable urban quarter in Dublin, based on public transport and strategically located close to the city centre. The implementation of a planning scheme of the type already being implemented in other areas of the docklands is expected to lead to a more rapid and integrated development of this area. The advantages of a "Section 25" planning scheme include increased certainty for developers, more rapid decision-making on development proposals, integration of development and infrastructure provision and, most importantly, the opportunity to involve the local community in the preparation of the scheme. I am therefore requesting the Houses of the Oireachtas to approve this draft order so it can be subsequently signed into law. Thereafter, I look forward to the preparation by the Authority of an ambitious planning scheme for the area concerned."

Note for those interested:

Section 25(1)(a) of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Act, 1997 provides that a planning scheme may be prepared for any part of the Dublin Docklands Area specified for that purpose by order of the Minister. Where it is proposed to make such an order, it must be laid in draft before each House of the Oireachtas and cannot be made without a resolution of approval from each House.

In broad terms, a planning scheme indicates the manner in which the Authority considers the relevant area should be redeveloped, and sets out policies in relation to land use, distribution and location of development, overall design, transportation, the development of amenities, and conservation.

Section 25 provides that the carrying out of development that is certified by the Authority to be consistent with a planning scheme shall be exempted development for the purposes of the Planning and Development Acts. The effect of this provision is to minimise uncertainty and delay in respect of developments requiring major public and/or private investment, compared to the normal planning process.

In preparing a planning scheme, the Authority is obliged to have regard to its 2003 Master Plan, consult with Dublin City Council and other relevant statutory bodies, have regard to the Dublin City Development Plan, and arrange for submissions by interested parties. The draft plan is then submitted to the Minister who, following consultation with the Minister for Finance and consideration of any objections from Dublin City Council, may approve it with or without modification.

The proposed planning scheme for the Poolbeg Peninsula excludes the power generation stations, the wastewater treatment plant, the site for the proposed waste to energy plant, and a container storage area used by Dublin Port.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Work gets under way at 'The Bawn' social housing scheme

Work has started on 'The Bawn', a development of 31 social houses on a five acre site of land in Riverchapel. The land was acquired by the Council from the developer of a large housing estate nearby under Part V of the planning process.

The Council will build 31 social houses, including a mix of one, two, three and four bed homes. Work on 24 affordable homes will begin at a later date.

Site work for the social houses commenced this week, and the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Access to the estate will be via a new road between Jimmy'z Pub and the pumphouse.

'It's welcome news for Riverchapel. At least the Council is spreading the houses around the district,' said Cllr. Jimmy Fleming. 'A lot of people are on the Council list from Riverchapel, and they would prefer to stay in the area. A lot of them don't have transport either'.

The contractor for the work is Paddy McGee.

Tenders invited for new civic centre

This story from last week warrants the attention of Gorey residents:

Tenders have been invited for the new civic centre on the Avenue in Gorey. It had been hoped that work would start in March on the project, but adjustments had to be made to the plans, so work is unlikely to begin until early summer.

Consultants for the Avenue Residents Association have written to the Council asking for details of the alterations.

The residents have asked to view the planning file so they can ensure that the planning process has been conducted in accordance with requirements.

Welcoming news of the tender process, Cllr. Michael D'Arcy said the integrated venture with other government agencies incorporates a new courthouse, VEC educational facilities, Wexford County Council district offices, Gorey Town Council chamber, HSE offices and a long awaited library. There will also be 40 apartments in the development.

'The project went to tender last Friday and is expected to cost in the region of e20 million,' he said. 'The tenders will be open for a matter of weeks before being analysed and then the contract will be awarded to the successful applicants. Work is hoped to commence in early summer'.

'North Wexford has been waiting for years for this project to be finally realised,' he added. 'I want to congratulate all concerned. I was delighted as Chairman of Co. Wexford VEC to oversee the transfer of the land to accommodate this massive development. I have no doubt this will become a yardstick development for other towns and other local authorities'.

Cllr.D'Arcy also called on the Council to meet the requirements of Part V of the Planning Act. This obliges developers to make available 20 per cent of the units to the local authority. 'In my view Wexford County Council will have to make eight apartments available for social/ affordable use,' he said.