Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Department warns against further zoning of land in Moate

THE Department of the Environment has warned Westmeath County Council not to zone any more land in Moate, saying that too much zoning has taken place in the town of late.

In addition, an objective stating that only 50% of the existing land zoned residential should be released before 2014, with the remainder to be developed after that year.

Moate is one of four Westmeath towns - along with Kilbeggan, Delvin and Castlepollard - which were singled out by the Department of the Environment for having too much re-zoning take place in recent years.

In county manager Danny McLoughlin's report on public submissions relating to the Moate Town Plan, he stated that sufficient lands are currently available to provide for any population increase in Moate "until 2014 and beyond."

The county manager stated that no more zoning would take place in Moate or the other three towns mentioned by the Department for the foreseeable future, except in cases where a particular retail, commercial Or educational shortfall was identified.

The Department has expressed its wish to see the existing zoned land developed on a carefully managed basis before any further development takes place.

In his report on Moate, Mr McLoughlin said that the town's population rose by 24.2% between 2002 and 2006. The town's population stood at 1,888 in 2006 and, the report stated, "there are sufficient lands zoned in the draft town plan to provide a further population increase of 7,056 people, which is adequate to provide for the planned growth of the town to 2014 and beyond."

The report added: "In response to the Department's submission, it is accepted that such a growth needs to be managed carefully to ensure Moate can achieve a critical mass to support its growing urban and extensive rural hinterland but also that such a growth would not compete with the accelerated growth of the nearby linked gateway towns of Athlone and Tullamore."

Additional lands "remote from the town" should not be zoned in order to "ensure a proper consolidated and concentric sustainable growth of the town," the report stated.

In response to requests for land to be re-zoned for enterprise and employment, the county manager's report stated that 13.5ha is presently available in Moate for this purpose, however it did consent to land to the north and north west of the town's business park being re-zoned for the same purpose.

In total, over 400 submissions relating to the draft County Development Plan for 2008-14 were received by the Council.

Adrian Cusack
Westmeath Independent

Posted by bps planning consultants -

Stradbally's sewage, water woes resurface

The whistle-clean County Waterford village of Stradbally is once again on high sewage alert.

According to local farmer and community activist Tom Hickey, such was the amount of raw sewage pouring into the Cove last week that "you could float a boat on it".

Then last Friday night people's water taps ran dry, not an unusual occurrence in the seaside village and surrounding areas.

On Monday a bulk tanker of water was in situ, with the fire brigade "doing a great job" bringing water to houses, filling bath tubs, etc. Tom added, that Waterford County Council staff had been "most helpful under trying conditions".

The sewage and water systems in Stradbally were built in the early 1950s, with no improvements have been made to the piping network since. The original septic tank there was designed for 240 persons.

The population of Stradbally was 351 in 2005 and is predicted to grow to 1,068 by 2025. In summer time the seasonal population increases to around 400. All the while the water reservoir capacity has remained the same as the original scheme.

Building boom

Tom points out that prior to the building boom of the mid-1990s there were 73 houses in the village, renowned for its high Tidy Towns ratings. Since then, however, the County Council have granted planning permission for about 200 houses. Most of this sewage discharges into the River Tay and flows into Stradbally Cove with obvious consequences for bathing water quality at the beach.

"It is wrong that families with children, our senior citizens, local businesses, schools and indeed homes are left in this situation," says Catherine Clancy, a colleague on Stradbally Tourism & Enterprise Group, asking: "Why do Council planners continue to give planning permission in the village without proper infrastructure in place?"

Indeed, the current County Development Plan (2005-2011), states that "any development, which impacts negatively on bath ing water quality and hence human health, is unlikely to be favourably considered".

In 2002 Mr. Hickey among others made a formal complaint to. the EU Commission 'against Waterford County Council and Ireland for the. discharge of raw sewage into the Cove in breach of the Bathing Water Directive.

As a result of tests the local group carried out, the then South Eastern Health Board recommended that signs be erected warning people not to bathe, paddle or wash utensils in the river at the Cove.

This was prompted by an outbreak the previous summer when six of 13 children attending swimming classes in the Cove were sick within one hour of going into the water. "At the time," says Tom, "Waterford Co Council gave us a commitment that no further planning permission would be given until proper sewage treatment facilities were in place. What needs to happen before they do the right thing?"

Seven Villages

The sanitary services in Stradbally are due to be upgraded under the long-delayed EUR46m-plus 'Seven Villages' sewerage scheme. CPOs for the site at Stradbally More are in place, with objections by the affected landowner, Mr Walter Drohan, having been resolved at an Oral Hearing in Dungarvan in June of last year.

However, so far progress on actually constructing the grouped sewerage works - which will each have with an operation phase of 20 years; and a design population equivalent of 1,185 in Stradbally's case - has been dropping slow. The optimistic completion target (the schemes are to be built simultaneously) has now been pushed back to late 2011.

Applications for foreshore licences in respect of outfall pipes for the proposed storm/surface water collection system and waste water treatment plants, lodged in April 2005, are still being examined by the engineering division in the Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

Minister Eamon Ryan told John Deasy earlier this month that their view is that the Stradbally outfall should be protected by a rock layer. The final discharge point will be at Ballyvooney Cove, with an analysis for the Council deeming that there would be a negligible detrimental effect on the inter-tidal sections of the shore as a result.

Water supply

Meanwhile, the Stradbaliy Sheskin Water Supply Scheme, which supplies the village of Stradbally and the hinterland to the southwest as far as Ballyvoyle, continues to be dogged by mains difficulties.

The supply takes from a single source taken from an impoundment on the Tay. Water is treated with alum dosing and pressure filtration and pumped to the Stradbaliy Reservoir. Water gravitates to the village and is boosted to Sheskin.

There are currently 235 domestic and 40 non-domestic connections on the scheme. However, significant residential development pressure is evidenced by 155 houses currently at planning stage.

The Council says the Tay offers significant spare capacity based on current average demand. The limiting factor is the poor condition of the 4" rising main from the treatment works to the storage reservoir (the capacity of which needs to be increased) over a distance of 2km. There are numerous leaks due to deterioration of the Asbestos pipe which proves very problematic to maintain due to its location beside the river. There's a preliminary cost estimate of EUR0.8m for the necessary upgrading.

Jamie O'Keeffe
Munster Express 26.10.07

Posted by bps planning consultants -

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Coastal reefs plan will mean ban on fishing

Coral reefs discovered off our west coast in a seabed survey last year are to be designated as ocean parks, meaning an all-out ban on fishing in the areas.

Dragnet fishing destroys coral reefs, as can pollution, and even activity by tourist divers.

Environment Minister John Gormley says he hopes to see the implementation of a EU-wide fishing ban in these "ecologically sensitive areas" off the west coast of Ireland and the EU Commission has agreed with him.

Mr Gormley says Ireland's deep sea coral reefs are "some of the best in Europe."

The European Commission has now accepted Ireland's proposal for a fishing ban on four areas covering a total of 2,500 square kilometres, it was revealed yesterday.


Mr Gormley hopes a ban proposal can be rubber-stamped at next month's EU Council of Fisheries Ministers. It would be the first such permanent fishing ban of its type in the EU.

Four areas have been designated by Ireland as Special Areas of Conservation.

Coral reefs were once thought to be restricted to warm, shallow waters in tropical and subtropical regions.

However, they are increasingly being found in cold but nutrient-rich waters along the edge of continental shelves.

"These cold-water reefs act like islands on the normally featureless and muddy sea floor," a spokesman for Mr Gormley said.

He said it was clear from scientific surveys that the activities of the European fishing fleet were destroying Ireland's coral reef systems.

Last year, the Government proposed four sites for designation as Special Areas of Conservation. Two sites are located in the Porcupine Bank while two are in the Porcupine Seabight area of the coast.

"The commission is now putting the proposals forward for decision by the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers, I would hope to see the ban in place by the end of the year," Mr Gormley said.

Senan Molony
Irish Independent

Monday, 29 October 2007

DTO to prepare Transport Strategy to 2030

The Dublin Transportation Office is to develop a new Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), which will set out the infrastructure and other requirements for the region for the period 2010-2030.

The new Strategy will be published in two years' time and will be the successor to the DTO's previous strategy proposal - A Platform for Change: Strategy 2000-2016 - published in 2000, which was the first plan to propose Luas, Metro and a Quality Bus Network for the GDA (Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow).

The DTO Strategy Team's plans include major consultation - to involve all companies, agencies and representative groups involved in providing and using transportation in the region - as well as an inclusive public consultation programme, which will invite views, suggestions and feedback from everyone in Ireland.

Extensive use of the DTO's state-of-the-art Transportation Modelling software will be used to determine the ideal transport network, modes, capacities and frequencies to cater for the levels of demand forecast for the region in 20 years' time.

To prepare the Strategy, the DTO has issued a comprehensive Tender Notice, which includes -

* Transport and land use planning advice (transport infrastructure and services, demand-side measures)
* transport/land use studies;
* data collection (transport, land use and environmental);
* data analysis;
* transport and land use modelling work (including enhancement of DTO model and model calibration);
* data analysis;
* Strategic Environmental Assessment - and
* related technical and administrative advice.

Announcing the move, DTO Director/CEO John Henry said - "Transport impacts on everyone and has a direct impact on people's quality of life. It is timely that we are now starting to visualise the type of City and Region we want for the year 2030 and putting the plans in place that will meet those objectives and take us there.

"We will be involving all the agencies involved in providing transport in the GDA and we will be seeking the involvement of people living and working in the region - as well as people living throughout the rest of Ireland, who visit their Capital region for leisure or other reasons."

Mr Henry added - "We will also be involving policy-makers from other relevant sectors - including Environment, Land Use, Health, Education and Energy - in our planning. Real improvements in quality of life for all Dubliners will come from coordinating all our long-term planning in this way."

Statistical Yearbook of Ireland 2007

The Statistical Yearbook of Ireland 2007 has been published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The Yearbook presents a comprehensive picture of Ireland today. It provides detailed information, tables and graphs across a wide range of topics. These include - the population, labour force, education, crime, the economy, agriculture, industry, services, prices, housing, knowledge economy and the environment.

The chapter on the environment covers such topics as -

* Transport

The total number of registered vehicles has increased by 103% over the period 1990-2005. Related CO2 emissions have increased by 166% in the same period.

* Emissions

Greenhouse gas emissions (in equivalent tonnes of Carbon Dioxide) have increased by 24% during the years 1990 to 2005, while acid rain precursor emissions have decreased by 23% in the same period.

* Waste Management

The tonnage of household and commercial waste collected in 2005 increased by 3% relative to 2004.

* Recycling

34.6% of municipal waste collected in Ireland was re-used in 2005.

* Energy

Ireland's total primary energy requirement in 2005 was 15.61m TOE - an increase of 64% since 1990.

Review of Archaeological Policy and Practice

The Review of Archaeological Policy and Practice has been launched by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley TD.

The Review will be one of the most wide-ranging and inclusive to take place in Ireland and the aim will be to improve and strengthen the protection of our archaeological heritage. This review was promised by Minister Gormley following publication of the Lismullen file, last June.

The primary focus will be to examine whether national monuments legislation needs to be strengthened and how archaeological practices should be improved.

The review will look at a wide range of issues, including the recording and protection of monuments, designation of monuments as national monuments and how archaeological issues are dealt with in the planning process, both at development plan level and at the level of individual planning applications. The review will also look at how archaeological matters are dealt with in the context of infrastructure development generally and in the context of approved road development, in particular.

An issues paper was recently published by Minister Gormley, which identified specific topics to be examined in the review. A series of seminars are taking place over the coming week at which various stakeholders - including archaeologists, campaigners and expert departmental staff - can discuss the issues. It is hoped that the review will be completed by the middle of next year.

"Soon after entering office, I promised I would review Archaeological Policy and Practice and, today, I am delivering on that commitment" - Minister John Gormley said. "The aim of this review is to make policy towards protecting our archaeological heritage the best there can be and to draw from the experience and advice of experts - both at home and abroad - to achieve this.

"When I promised this review, it was my stated intention that it would be wide-ranging and inclusive to all. This is the first in a series of seminars open to all who are interested.

"In the past I felt that there had been some gaps in how we dealt with archaeological finds in certain circumstances. I am resolute that when this process is finalised, we will have a policy in place which will be the best internationally and which will afford our very valuable built heritage the protection it so richly deserves" - concluded the Minister.

The review is the first to have taken place since 1999, when previous policy guidelines issued. There has been a huge increase since then in the number of archaeological excavations undertaken. At present, 1,000 excavations per annum on average take place in Ireland - with 1,700 anticipated in 2007.

The Minister also officially launched a new dedicated archaeological website, developed by his Department which contains much useful information and advice for the public and archaeology professionals - as well as access to national archaeological records and a facility for making online archaeological licence applications.

"This new website, along with other Department initiatives - such as the 'Archaeology in the Classroom' programme for primary schools soon to be expanded to the transition year cycle, a pilot project to encourage the employment of archaeologists by local authorities and support for the Heritage Council field monument advisors scheme - are just a few examples of our efforts to raise awareness at many levels of our precious heritage resource and its significance to communities and to the national psyche" - said Minister Gormley.

Proposed Planning Exemptions - environment and a strong economy working in tandem

Mr. John Gormley, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has announced details of a 3-month consultation process on proposed exemptions for micro-renewable technologies for industrial, commercial and public buildings and agricultural structures.

"These proposals provide a perfect example of how economic well-being and a strong commitment to our environment can compliment one another. They make further inroads in removing any unnecessary regulatory barriers to the uptake of renewables in all sectors" - said the Minister.

Following on from the introduction of exemptions from planning permission requirements for certain micro-renewable energy technologies in the domestic sector in February 2007, the Department further reviewed existing provisions with a view to facilitating increased usage of renewable energy in the industrial, agricultural and commercial sectors - and in public buildings, including schools and hospitals.

The consultation paper contains proposals for exemptions for wind turbines, combined heat and power (CHP) plants, solar panels and biomass boiler units - subject to certain conditions - across each of the sectors.

The Minister continued - "We face significant challenges to reduce our emissions, maximise renewable energy uptake and ensure security of energy supply. While these challenges are not simple tasks by any means, they also present great opportunities. So, for example, if we maximise the enormous potential of renewable energy sources, we will be directly combating climate change - and, if we ensure security and sustainability of energy supply, we will be fostering and promoting sustainable employment in Ireland.

"The measures I am proposing will have multiple benefits in terms of climate change emissions reductions, potential job creation and the development of a more sustainable and secure energy supply. The exemptions support actions required to meet Ireland's emissions target under the Kyoto Protocol - as detailed in the National Climate Change Strategy 2007-2012 and in the Agreed Programme for Government.

"They seek to build on the recognition that the issue of climate change requires a 'whole-of-society' effort across all sectors, by enabling a broader range of energy users to take an active role in reducing their dependency on fossil fuels.

"Furthermore, they will contribute to the achievement of the Energy White Paper targets for increasing the percentage of all electricity consumed on a national basis that comes from renewable sources, to 15% by 2010 and 33% by 2020.

"As we have set out in our National Climate Change Strategy, the achievement of our renewable energy targets for 2010 will result in CO2 emissions savings of 1.47Mt.

"In a more immediate sense, if the introduction of the proposed exemptions prompts even a single industrial operation to source their energy needs from a 5MW CHP, instead of from conventional electricity supply, the emissions saved would amount to 6ktonnes annually. This sends out a strong and very positive signal that the planning system is being increasingly deployed in the fight against climate change."

The Minister concluded by saying - "the proposed exemptions provide an appropriate balance between the needs of business to explore opportunities for meeting their energy requirements from renewable sources and of the public to preserve the amenity of their local area.

"The consultation paper sets out the rationale for these limits and I hope they will receive full and rigorous debate over the coming months. I welcome comments from all quarters by the closing date of 18 January as a means of ensuring that we pitch these exemptions at the appropriate levels."

The proposed exemptions would be introduced by way of amendment to the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, which set out a range of classes of development which are exempt from planning permission requirements.

Similar exemptions for use of micro-renewable energy technologies in the domestic context were introduced in February 2007 (S.I. 83 of 2007), following a public consultation process in late 2006.

Among the key exemptions that are now proposed is the provision or erection of -

* an enclosed CHP plant of up to 500m2 gross floor space for industrial buildings, or 300m2 for public and commercial buildings and agricultural structures
* wind turbines up to a total height of 20m for industrial, public and commercial buildings and agricultural structures or met masts of up to 50m for a temporary period of up to 9 months out of 18
* as with the domestic micro-renewable technologies exemptions, there are no proposals to exempt building-mounted turbines from consideration through the planning process
* solar panels on the whole of a roof in an industrial estate or a total aperture area of up to 50m2 or 50% of total roof area for public and commercial buildings and agricultural structures
* heat pumps of up to 15m2 total area in an industrial estate, or up to 10m2 for public and commercial buildings and agricultural structures
* biomass fuel storage tanks of up to 50,000 litres capacity above ground and up to 100,000 litres below ground for industrial, public and commercial buildings and agricultural structures.

The consultation paper is available from the Department's website - or from Austin O'Dowd/Goretti Reynolds
Planning Section
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House
Dublin 1
Tel: 01 888 2895/2821

Council leads the way with survey of unaccounted-for waste

WATERFORD City Council has become the first local authority in Ireland to carry out a survey of unaccounted-for waste.

The survey, funded by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, is part of an effort to tackle the amount of waste illegally disposed of across the country.

The council will survey households to determine how they dispose of their waste, in the first study of its kind in Ireland.

The council’s environmental awareness officer, Ella Ryan, said: “Unaccounted-for waste is refuse that is not collected at the kerbside through a wheeled bin collection.

“This includes the waste generated by people who do not have access to refuse collection services, as well as those who do not make use of a service that is provided.”

An estimated average of 24% of waste generated in Ireland is uncollected, “so this is a problem that extends much further afield than Waterford City alone”, she said.

Council staff will call to households who have not paid the 2007 fixed charge and who do not have this charge waived to determine how they are disposing of waste.

If the householders are disposing of their waste in an unlawful way, a Section 18 notice will be served on the household under the Waste Management Acts 1995–2003. This notice requires the household to provide details of their method of waste disposal and can be used to secure a prosecution for illegal disposal of waste. If the household fails to respond to this notice, it can lead to a court appearance.

Ms Ryan said: “This pilot survey will help us to identify anyone who is disposing of their waste illegally, and should, therefore, also result in a reduction in the amount of waste illegally disposed of, for example through dumping or burning.

“The survey will also mean that the council can identify those householders who do not make use of the council refuse collection, but who have legitimate and legal means of disposing of their waste.”

Queries about waste disposal can be made to the council’s environmental services department on 051-849563.

Irish Examiner

'Ignored' residents reject estates plan

RESIDENTS living in a troubled estate earmarked for a major facelift say they do not want to be included in the redevelopment plans because they weren't consulted.

Residents from Weston Gardens on Limerick's southside took out a full-page advertisement in their local paper to object to the work being carried out by the Limerick Regeneration Agencies.

The State agencies were set up following publication of the John Fitzgerald report and estates in Moyross, Southill and Ballinacurra-Weston are set to be radically transformed over coming years arising from their recommendations.

The man charged with overseeing the regeneration welcomed the open letter in the 'Limerick Leader' criticising the agency overseeing the redevelopment in their neighbourhood.

Chief executive officer of the Limerick Regeneration Agencies, Brendan Kenny, said he welcomed all input into the redevelopment of estates from local people as it showed a willingness by people to become involved.

Last week, the first meeting of the Southside Regeneration Committee was held to begin work on city's southside.

However, residents from Weston Gardens say they have "no trust, faith or confidence in the Southside Agency and do not wish to be included in its remit".

The committee of the Weston Gardens Association says it is disappointed to have been excluded from membership of the regeneration committee after it was invited to join it.

In response, Mr Kenny said: "It's a healthy situation if there are people who feel aggrieved at not being on a regeneration committee. That's a good sign because it shows a willingness to get involved."

Barry Duggan
Irish Independent

Friday, 26 October 2007

Mayor quashes Hill of Allen debate

An attempt to discuss the Hill of Allen controversy was ruled out of order at Monday’s meeting of Kildare County Council. The topic was introduced by Cllr. Fiona O’Loughlin, who sought an amendment to the minutes of a previous meeting.

“I looked for information in relation to the proposed settlement between Roadstone and Kildare County Council and I want the minutes amended to clarify that,” she said.

She went on to comment: “I believe Roadstone should be applying for planning permission to the council in relation to its quarrying operation. Now it has emerged that two more national monuments have been discovered and in terms of heritage, and protecting what we have, this is vitally important.”

Cllr. O’Loughlin added: “I appreciate the sensitivities around the case at present, but I wanted to make this point.”

However, when Cllr. Pat Black attempted to make a further comment on the matter, commencing with “Anybody with the idea of heritage in mind should be concerned,” he was prevented from continuing.

Saying that she had allowed Cllr. O’Loughlin to request the amendment to the minutes, mayor Mary Glennon said there could now be no further discussion. “There is no debate under mayor’s business,” she said.

“I don’t want a debate; I want to make a comment,” said Cllr. Black.

“I’m sorry, I cannot allow any comment — there is no right of reply,” the mayor told a disgruntled Cllr. Black, effectively closing off the discussion.

Despite saying two weeks ago that the details of its settlement with Roadstone would be finalised and entered into the planning record “shortly,” no such information has yet been placed in the public arena by the county council.

Vicki Weller
Kildare Nationalist

Shell advisers had no consent to drill

The Department of the Environment is considering what action to take with the Corrib gas developers, following an admission by Shell consultants that they drilled in a special area of conservation (SAC) in north Mayo without the appropriate consent.

The consultants have also conceded they did not consult the National Parks and Wildlife Service before drilling boreholes in the Glenamoy bog complex special area of conservation.

They have said the "oversight" was due to "miscommunication", both within their own company and Shell E&P Ireland.

A Department of Environment spokesman said that an expert had been sent to assess whether the SAC had been damaged. It would decide what action to take.

Under the European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1997, the Minister for the Environment must authorise any such work in a special area of conservation by written consent, and contravention of this "without reasonable excuse" is described as an "offence" in the legislation.

The borehole drilling was being carried out by RPS Consultants, which had been hired by Shell E&P Ireland to select a modified route for the Corrib gas onshore pipeline.

Six weeks ago, a solidarity camp on the same site at Glengad was directed by court order to be dismantled by January 1st.

In a statement to The Irish Times , RPS Consultants said: "We are aware that in order to carry out such activities within a SAC, permission needs to be granted by the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government and we are currently in discussion with them."

Lorna Siggins
The Irish Times

Kerry planners overturn council on windfarm

A DECISION by Kerry County Council to refuse planning permission for two wind turbines near Asdee has been overturned by An Bord Pleanala.

The windfarm is to be situated at Curraderrig, Asdee on a site approximately seven kilometers north east of Ballybunion and west of Ballylongford.

The application is for the construction of two generators, with a hub height of 64 metres and of rotor diameter 70.5 metres, as well as a control building and ancillary works.

In December 2006, Kerry County Council turned down permission for the turbines saying they would be obtrusive on the landscape and would lessen the value of nearby homes.

However the decision was appealed by the applicant, JP McElligott, who argued that the planned turbines were just 2.5km from an existing windfarm at Beale and that they would not be located in an area with prime or special amenity value nor would they be located near any "views or prospects".

Planning inspector Aisling Cunnane recommended that the planning board grant permission for the turbines.

She maintained they would not have a significant adverse impact on the landscape and they would not adversely impact on flora and fauna.

At a meeting on 21 September last the board decided to grant permission in accordance with the inspector's recommendation, subject to certain conditions.

These include the structures being removed after 20 years unless further permission is granted, that noise levels be minimised and that the colour scheme to be used would be agreed with the council

The Kingdom

Villagers say their ritual stone shall not be moved

FOR 2,000 years it has stood proudly in all weathers – a testament to the great mysteries of our Celtic ancestors.

But now the Turoe Stone, known as one of the finest of its kind in Europe, is to be moved from its home in a remote part of Co. Galway and housed in a museum.

The plan has stirred up a storm of disapproval among villagers in Bullaun who have demanded that Environment Minister John Gormley intervene.

The Turoe Stone is a unique white stone and is about one metre tall. It was placed near a ring fort at Kiltullagh over 2,000 years ago and then moved a century and a half ago to its current resting place in Bullaun, a few miles north of Loughrea.

Experts now believe it needs protection from the elements, but the Turoe Historical Society wants the stone to remain where it is. They are instead calling for a visitor centre to be built on the site.

Dr Kieran Jordan of the society says that such a move would ensure the stone remained locally and would help boost rural development.

Plans to move the stone to Galway City Museum are advanced. However, a public meeting in Bullaun on Saturday night heard that there is vehement opposition.

'The stone needs protection from weathering, but rather than removing it, this protection can be given to it on-site,' said Dr Jordan.

'With millions of euros being spent on rural development, removal of the very treasures that could attract visitors to rural areas is unfair.

'We would prefer to see proposals for development of an acclaimed Celtic tourist attraction site. This would support rural development, create and maintain the authenticity and integrity of the viewing experience and keep people out of our already clogged-up city,' he said.

Local PD Senator Ciaran Cannon has called for cross-party support to prevent the stone being moved.

'Removing the stone is taking the lazy option. The Turoe Stone is far too important and needs imagination and foresight to ensure that it is there for hundreds of years to come,' he said.

The Turoe Stone, an oval granite monument, was decorated in a Celtic style related to the La Tene culture of northern modern-day France during the Iron Age.

Many historians believe that the stone was carved in France, brought to Ireland in Celtic times and ultimately, like some family heirloom, moved further west, far from the prying eyes of the invaders.

Although the religious or ceremonial purposes of the stone are lost in time, for anybody who is interested in prehistoric Celtic art or, indeed, in art of any kind, this stone is a priceless treasure.

It is decorated all over with concentric spirals that are carved in low relief to a depth of about three centimetres.

Legend has it that the carvings on the stone – were they spread out on a flat surface – would equate to a primitive globe map.

The concept of the ritual stone was created by the pre-Christian Celtic communities.

They appear to have generally dismissed writing in favour of a relatively simpler set of symbols for expressing ideas and maintaining their religious and political beliefs.

Insofar as the long-term survival of their race and language was concerned, this 'paper free' approach appears to have proved very successful for the Celts.

The Irish Celts took to pen and ink art in the fifth century AD. So the beautiful eighth-century Book of Kells was produced by the direct descendants of the same race of people who cut and carved the Turoe stone.

John Fallon
Daily Mail

Taoiseach urged to 'stop giving out about snails'

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern should stop giving out about "snails and swans" holding up roads when it was he who encouraged support for the European treaty that brought in the safeguards for them, the president of An Taisce said yesterday.

Éanna Ní Lamhna criticised the "silly nonsense" being spoken by those in power who had no environmental education and thought they were the "only species on Earth".

See the Friends of the Irish Environment Report submitted to the Minister on Cascade Wood...


See the true story of the Kildare By Pass, dismissed by Senator Martin Manseer as 'the ridiculous delay to the N7 bypass at Kildare because of a supposedly threatened species of snail.'

Dr Ní Lamhna was in Muckross House in Killarney National Park yesterday to launch the State's first third-level wildlife biology courses.

The courses, a four-year BSc in wildlife biology and two-year certificate in biological and environmental studies, are being offered by the Institute of Technology, Tralee (ITT), in partnership with Killarney National Park and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Students will spend at least one day a week on fieldwork in the 25,000 acres of mountain woods and lakes of the park.

Referring to a radio news report the previous evening that depicted the rare Kerry slug as holding up a Cork road, Dr Ní Lamhna said: "Nobody made the point that this slug is not a nuisance holding up development, but an indicator species of an ancient wood."

The slug was protected under the habitats directive of the Maastricht treaty and the Taoiseach giving out about snails and swans holding up major roads projects was at odds with his stance on that treaty, she said.

"You wouldn't think he [ Mr Ahern] encouraged people to vote for this treaty," said Dr Ní Lamhna, in reference to Mr Ahern's support for the treaty.

The An Taisce president, who is a biologist and college lecturer, also claimed Éamon De Valera's emphasis on the Irish language in education had pushed the sciences aside.

His education policy had produced people with wonderful Irish, but without any knowledge of the environment, she said, breaking into Irish as she spoke.

Biology was made a Leaving Cert subject only in 1971 and 40 years ago girls were not offered or encouraged to study science. Between 1936 and 1971 students were taught "not a single word about the environment".

That meant the people in power now, such as county managers and politicians, had learned nothing about the environment or biology at school, she said.

People did not want to hear any more of the "silly nonsense" about snails holding up roads and "what did snails ever do for us?" and so on, "as if we were the only species on Earth".

The course being offered by the ITT was "very timely" and was at the cusp of a new environmental awareness, she added.

Anne Lucey
The Irish Times 25.10.07

North Quay traffic problems causing concern

Arklow Town Council have considered a moritorium on all future developments on Arklow's North Quay until a solution to the area's traffic problems is found.At their meeting last week, town councillors said North Quay, Mill Road and the Marina had only one acess point via the Bridgewater roundabout and North Quay.

Development freeze considered on quay

Arklow Town Council have considered a moritorium on all future developments on Arklow's North Quay until a solution to the area's traffic problems is found.

At their meeting last week, town councillors said North Quay, Mill Road and the Marina had only one acess point via the Bridgewater roundabout and North Quay.

Several North Quay developments have recently received planning permission including the Aldi store beside the Bridgewater Store, the Foudi development of 118 apartments near the marina, and the Joby development of 50 apartments and eight retail units, also on North Quay. Other North Quay developments are likely to follow.

Town councillor Donal O'Sullivan asked whether the council should freeze granting any more planning permissions in the area for the time being.Until there is some proper infrastructural access to the North Quay should we as a council grant any more planning permissions down there?,' he asked.

We have to have a long, hard look at the accessibility of that site.'

Councillor Pat Fitzgerald said a new access route to the North Quay area would have to be found.

Arklow mayor Sylvester Bourke suggested putting a freeze on future planning applications to see what happens with traffic'.

But Town Clerk Des Nicholls said there would be problems building a new access road to the quayside.

Seaview Avenue or Stringers Lane ar the most suitable points from which to build a new link road to the quays, but the council had made committments to local residents in the past to limit traffic flows there.

Mr Nichols said the Bridgewater roundabout had been designed to cater for shoppers as well as all other existing developments on the North Quay.

Wicklow People

Residents distressed' by Bridgewater traffic

Arklow Town Council acted quickly last week to assuage Ferrybank residents choked by Bridgewater Centre traffic, extending the double yellow lines of both sides of the Dublin Road to ease the congestion.But residents are looking for more action, last week's town council meeting was told.

Arklow Town Council acted quickly last week to assuage Ferrybank residents choked by Bridgewater Centre traffic, extending the double yellow lines of both sides of the Dublin Road to ease the congestion.

But residents are looking for more action, last week's town council meeting was told.

Councillor Donal O'Sullivan said some residents were very, very, very irate' at shoppers parking in neighbouring streets and that parking regulations and enforcement should be extended onto Ferrybank.

We have to extend our traffic management beyond the bridge,' he said.

He said Seaview Avenue should be residents' parking only. But he said a balance needed to be struck between parking restrictions and resident amenity, especially on Ferrybank, where the double yellow lines mean many reisdents can't park outside their own houses.

You have to remember that people live on Ferrybank and we want them to continue living on Ferrybank.'

The council also received two letters from local residents angry at the state of the traffic situation last weekend.

One Marina Village resident wrote that she was extremely distressed' to see cars exiting the Bridgewater car park being directed into Marina Village before turning back along North Quay to the main roundabout belching carbon monoxide outside our homes'.

Liam Keogh and Declan Fitzgerald from the Ferrybank Residents Association wrote that vehicles parking on the footpath, especially near the corner of Ferrybank and Stringer's Lane were a life threatening danger'.

This results in vehicles leaving Stringer's Lane having no field of vision...from either Templerainey or Bridge Street directions.'

Cllr Pat Fitzgerald said there is going to be someone killed there' one day.

Town Clerk Des Nichols said Bridgewater Centre management said they would not divert car park traffic through Marina Village in future.

Mr Nichols said the council was also considering installing barriers at the swimming pool car park, and opening up a space near the leisure centre for Bridgewater staff parking.

He said further parking enforcement on Ferrybank during peak weekend shopping times wouldn't be possible without extra funding to pay for traffic wardens.

Wicklow People

Dunlavin presents wish list' to County Council

Dunlavin residents have made their feelings clear with a wishlist for the upcoming town plan, with demands for better water and sewerage services being their main concerns.Six members of the Dunlavin and District Forum handed in the community document to members of the county council executive at a meeting on Tuesday evening. The document had been distributed to every home in t

Dunlavin residents have made their feelings clear with a wishlist for the upcoming town plan, with demands for better water and sewerage services being their main concerns.

Six members of the Dunlavin and District Forum handed in the community document to members of the county council executive at a meeting on Tuesday evening. The document had been distributed to every home in the area in order to collect everyone's input.

While water and sewerage were the two main issues highlighted, other recommendations revolved around the economy, social life, education, recreation, sport, housing and architecture.

The documents represents the feelings of everyone living in Dunlavin. Other local organisations also met with council members to outline their concerns.

A further meeting is also in the pipe line though no fixed date has been organised.

Wicklow People

Couple told to demolish part of dream home

A couple who went over the top in the design of their dream home have been told by a judge they will have to knock some of it or go to jail.

Interior and property designers Tom and Antoinette Darcy kept adding on bits for which they did not have planning permission, Judge Jacqueline Linnane heard in the Circuit Civil Court. On occasion they had been granted permission by the local authority to retain changes they made to officially agreed plans, but Fingal County Council dug in its heels when the Darcys literally went through the roof with things.

Now they have to demolish part of a glass atrium-style addition to the front of their new €3m home, Woodview, which has sea views from Grey's Lane, Howth, Co Dublin. They will also have to make changes to areas where they also overstepped planning permission at the back of the house.

When the couple came before Judge Linnane yesterday, facing imprisonment for contempt of court for having failed to carry out the changes months ago, she was told it would mean opening up the front and back of the house to the elements to bring the house in line with planning permission.

Judge Linnane said they had ignored orders from another Circuit Court Judge to fully comply with the planning permission and had failed to lodge sworn written evidence as to how they were going to set about making the changes.

Mr Damian Keaney, counsel for Fingal County Council, told the court the local authority was seeking to have the Darcys, who previously lived at Knightsbridge, Castle Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin, attached and committed to prison for contempt. The court was asked to consider the imposition of a severe financial penalty on the Darcys -- who are both designers who ran a company, Concept Homes Ltd. -- or sequestration of some of their assets.

Judge Linnane granted the Darcys another week before deciding what she will do with them.

Ray Managh
Irish Independent

Incinerators spark clash between Ahern and Green Party

THE NUMBER of incinerators needed in the future sparked a clash between Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Green Party yesterday.

Mr Ahern said four incinerators would be needed, a fortnight after Green Party leader and Environment Minister John Gormley declared Ireland might need only two.

There are no fewer than eight incinerator projects at various stages of the planning process, however -- and Mr Gormley has declared that he cannot interfere with that conveyor belt.

Mr Ahern said: "There are major applications for incinerators in the planning process. Perhaps we will not need eight incinerators -- four was the number mentioned in a number of reports."

In two applications, the capacity being sought is higher than what was originally planned, the taoiseach noted.

But he added: "If we go with the most modern technology we would not need the number that had been envisaged."

The difference led to Opposition claims that the taoiseach was "talking up" the number of incinerators needed, whereas Mr Gormley had been talking it down.

Fine Gael spokesman Phil Hogan said there was a split between the coalition partners on incineration. The Government's waste management strategy was "in complete disarray," he said.

"There is a rift between John Gormley and Bertie Ahern a mile wide," he added.

Irish Independent

EU ruling may force clean-up of landfill sites

THE Government will be forced to clean up abandoned landfill sites around the country that are leaking into the groundwater and polluting it or face massive fines following a ruling from the European Court of Justice.

EU members are supposed to ensure that dangerous substances do not leak from waste and contaminate the groundwater from which most of the country’s drinking water comes.

But the court found that the Ballymurtagh landfill site in Co Wicklow has been leaching into the groundwater and the river Avoca nearby. The poisonous substances include mercury and cadmium from old batteries, which is cancer-causing This would not have happened had the site been properly lined but the authorities decided against this at the time on the basis that the river was already poisoned by heavy metals from a nearby disused mine.

The case has wider implications however, according to Labour MEP, Proinsias De Rossa, because it proves the Government has not been complying with the Groundwater Directive.

“Should the commission in the future be presented with evidence of pollution of groundwater by landfills, it has the right to ask the court to impose substantial fines against Ireland, possibly amounting to tens of millions of euro,” he said.

The case should also force the Environmental Protection Agency to review the way it does its job as the court found it had breached the directive by granting a licence for the Ballymurtagh landfill in April 2001 without carrying out a full examination of the local environment first.

“The EPA must now review its procedures for licensing landfills on foot of this ruling,” said Mr De Rossa. The authorities were also found guilty of allowing septic tanks attached to commercial ventures to pollute groundwater in Wexford and endanger the lakes of Killarney. However the court said they were not shown enough evidence by the European Commission that septic tanks were contaminating drinking water around the country.

The commission says it may return to the court with fresh evidence such as the cryptosporium found in Galway during the summer and EPA reports that 57% of groundwater samples were contaminated with faecal coliforms.

Mr De Rossa said the minister for the environment could not take any comfort from the fact that the court turned down the commission’s claim that Ireland had not done enough to prevent groundwater pollution from commercial septic tanks.

“It should be bourne in mind that Ireland had not taken all possible steps to prevent such pollution. There is still clearly a need for the minister for environment to take further action on groundwater pollution from septic tanks,” he said.

The Department of the Environment, who has been fighting this case for the past five years, said they were studying the court decision.

Irish Examiner

EPA launches €100m project

THE Environmental Protection Agency is to invest €100 million over the next five years in a new research and innovation programme which will see more than 1,000 researchers employed to engage in cutting-edge projects which, it hopes, will greatly improve and protect the natural environment.

The new EPA Science, Technology, Research & Innovation for the Environment (STRIVE) programme is open to researchers and companies, will support environmental policy development and implementation, and will run up until 2013.

As part of the first phase of the programme, the EPA yesterday launched the search for research proposals in the areas of:

* Environmental technologies;

* Waste, resource management and chemicals;

* Sustainable development and environmental socio-economics;

* Environment and health;

* Environmental research data management.

According to the EPA, the STRIVE programme will continue the expansion of Irish environmental research. Its success will depend on the collaboration of a range of agencies, research performers and industry partners, working together.

A combination of projects will be funded, ranging from short-desk studies to large multi-annual capability development projects involving several organisations. The programme will involve more than 1,000 researchers and industrial innovators focusing on key national and international environmental priorities.

Dr Mary Kelly, director general of the EPA, said: “The importance of research and innovation across the Irish economy is well recognised and is extremely important in the environmental area. Good quality research can provide the foundation for credible decision-making, while technology and innovation can provide solutions to environmental problems. The EPA STRIVE programme will support research and innovation in key areas of environmental importance and will help to build capacity and capability in Irish institutions as well as delivering world class results in an Irish context.”

Irish Examiner

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Over-supply of planners?

Here's an email. One of a few I have received in recent weeks:

Dear Brendan,

What advice would you give to the significant number of planning graduates currently unemployed or 'badly employed' i.e not working within the planning sector? Anecdotally, I've heard that over 60 people applied for a recently advertised graduate position in Ennis; few graduates from the '07 class in UCD are as yet employed; and due to the glut of 1 year courses in Britain (essentially doubling graduate numbers there) opportunities in the U.K just aren't there like they were a couple of years ago. Also, to what extent do you think the IPI, or indeed Minister Gormley should intervene in order to alleviate the situation?

There is currently 1 Graduate Job advertised nationally...(NRA)

Kind Regards.

My response was:


This predicament has arisen due to oversupply. I qualified when around 16-20 planners trained each year at UCD (for the whole country). Now the numbers are out of control, with courses at UCD, DIT, UCC all containing large numbers. My advice is go where the jobs are - that is, go to the UK. I worked in Scotland as a planner in the past. The experience will place you ahead when you apply for jobs in Ireland.

Ten years ago no one expected a planning job in Ireland when they graduated. You obviously expect one now. I think given the numbers of qualified planners in Ireland now, your expectations are high.

It takes many people years to get the planning job they want.

Best wishes,


EPA waste tip-off phoneline receives 2,184 calls

The Environmental Protection Agency’s ‘Dump the Dumpers’ phoneline had 2,184 calls in its first year of operation, the agency said yesterday.

Fly-tipping and burning of waste accounted for 75% of the calls received, with 522 complaints made in Dublin, 349 in Wicklow and 266 in Cork.

The phoneline — 1850 365 121 — was made operational on June 28, 2006, initially for a six-month period in response to the high levels of waste being dumped around the country, particularly in Border areas. Large amounts were also being transported into the North. That upsurge was blamed on the increase in the cost of legal dumping in this country.

When it was found to be so successful, the scheme was extended beyond the six-month period.

The results for the phoneline were announced ahead of the EPA’s fourth annual environmental enforcement network waste conference, which began in Wexford yesterday and continues today.

Enforcement officers will review the results of action taken against illegal operators over the past year and decide the next move against illegal waste activities.

The EPA said the numbers of inspections doubled to more than 32,000 in 2006, carried out by 317 staff from 34 local authorities.

It said the types of enforcement undertaken by local authorities had changed radically in recent years, with the likes of Cork County Council using a helicopter survey to identify 60 unauthorised car scrapyards which were subsequently inspected.

Of those sites, 40% have either closed or are closing and more are upgrading their facilities to appropriate standards. Enforcement action is planned against a number of facilities.

Other case studies detail sting operations against illegal collectors of waste and against those burning waste. Kilkenny County Council secured a landfill levy of €170,000 in respect of an unauthorised landfilling activity.

Elsewhere, the EPA in taking part in major investigations into illegal sites in North which are being filled by southern operators.

Authorities on both sides of the Border are co-operating and sharing intelligence.

Lines of enquiry are being followed and investigators in the Republic are examining the suspected producers, collectors and transporters of the waste.

Enforcement officers dealing with illegal waste activities are meeting in Wexford today and tomorrow. They will review the results of enforcement action taken against illegal operators over the past year and decide the next offensive against illegal waste activities.

Dara Lynott, director of the Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) in the EPA, & said problems are being tackled but added there was no room for complacency. He said challenges — such as increased illegal collection, fly tipping of waste and poor management of construction and demolition waste — remain serious areas of concern.

Irish Examiner

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Limerick rail link to airport ruled out in study

Consultants say cost of project would be €700m.

The prospect of a rail link to Shannon airport from Limerick appeared doomed yesterday following confirmation by the Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, that Iarnród Éireann has no plans to undertake any further work on the proposal at this stage.

In reply to a parliamentary question Mr Dempsey stated that a feasibility study carried out on behalf of Iarnród Éireann, with input from a steering group representative of local interests, concluded that the economic case for the rail link is poor.

Stating that the rail link is not included in the Government's Transport 21 programme, Mr Dempsey told Limerick East Fine Gael TD Kieran O'Donnell that Iarnród Éireann "has no plans to undertake any further work on the proposal at this stage".

The feasibility study by MVA Consultants has put a cost of €700 million on constructing the rail link. However, this has been disputed by the locally-based Shannon Rail Partnership which claims that the rail link will cost €240 million.

Business development manager with Iarnród Éireann Jim Gallivan confirmed that the feasibility study found that "the costs of the construction of the rail link are out of proportion to the benefits to be gained".

Mr Gallivan said: "Milan has three airports and no rail link with a population of eight to 10 million and the greater Limerick-Shannon area has a population of 150,000 and the current population densities do not justify the project at the moment.

"The figures don't stack up and maybe in 15 to 20 years' time, the population density might be there," he added.

The draft feasibility study states that "in the early years there would be significant deficit on the operating account, but with a buoyant air travel market for the whole 30-year period, revenues could potentially cover operating costs, taking a longer-term view".

The Shannon Rail Partnership wrote to former minister for transport Martin Cullen on the need for the rail link and urged him to reserve a line for the development of the rail link in order to avoid houses being built on the line ahead of the population densities being in place in the future.

The draft feasibility study anticipates that there will be adverse environmental and severance impacts, particularly where the line runs through Shannon town.

Shannon Town Council member Cllr Seán Hillery (Fianna Fáil) confirmed yesterday that he did not receive a response from the then minister.

He said: "The Shannon Rail Partnership will be meeting soon and we will be seeking to reactivate our request to freeze the route for rail line development as it would avoid larger costs down the line."

He added: "This is not going to happen this year or next year and will depend on population increases."

Gordon Deegan
The Irish Times

Planning deferral system abused

SENIOR officials on Kerry County Council have claimed that a deferral system for planning applications is being abused.

A deferral on a decision is allowed when more time is sought to deal with a problem on a site, or with the application.

However, councillors are being put under undue pressure to push through planning applications even when there is little hope of getting planning, according to the county manager Tom Curran.

He said deferrals were being sought by applicants and agents in cases where there was no prospect of problems being resolved.

Mr Curran said planners and senior management were being put under pressure to meet applicants and agents to discuss issues even though it might be clear the granting of permission would be inappropriate.

"When an applicant gets an inkling they will not be granted permission, they then put pressure on councillors to change management's mind," he said.

In future, he stated, extensions of time or deferrals should only be requested where it was likely problems could be solved in a planning application and permission granted.

The council's planning department deals with about 5,000 applications each year. In some cases, people are putting in applications for one-off houses on sites which are completely unsuitable, according to planners.

For the past year in Kerry, on-site pre-planning consultations have been held between applicants and planning officials.

Senior planning engineer Tom Sheehy said such consultations were "very helpful" and applicants could be given an indication of their chances of getting permission to build a house.

"It certainly helps when applicants can be told of the possibilities at an early stage when they have not, as yet, any money spent on preparing an application. The process can save applicants a lot of money, maybe €5,000 to €6,000," he said.

Mr Sheehy also said it would be helpful if applicants were prepared to consider alternative sites for a house on their own land.

Donal Hickey
Irish Examiner

Architect survey rejects U2 hotel

U2 should not be allowed to go ahead with their ambitious plans to transform the Clarence Hotel, according to a survey of architects.

Online architecture discussion board, Archiseek, found that more than three-quarters of those canvassed felt that planning officials should not allow the €150m revamp of the Dublin hotel, owned by Bono and The Edge.

The supergroup has applied to Dublin City Council to demolish four neighbouring listed buildings to make the Clarence "the most spectacular hotel in Europe", erecting a skycatcher atrium, resembling a spaceship, visible from all over the city. Objectors include An Taisce and the Irish Georgian Society.

Those who logged onto Archiseek were asked: "Should the Clarence Hotel redevelopment get permission?"

The answer was a vehement 'no', with 78pc against it and just 22pc in favour.

Those who logged on blasted the plans as "awful" "rubbish" and "hideous."

One urged: "Object, object, object. It is far too bulky and would dominate everything. We have made this mistake too many times.''

Larissa Nolan
Irish Independent

Ryanair challenge to 'costly' terminal

RYANAIR yesterday kicked off a legal challenge against the decision to grant planning permission to Dublin Airport's second terminal.

The low-fares airline says the terminal plans should be overthrown because they are too costly.

If the challenge succeeds, work on the terminal could be halted until a new design can be approved, causing untold delays and additional costs.

But Dublin Airport director Robert Hilliard insisted that work would continue on the €395m project "until there's an injunction", adding that Ryanair's legal challenge had "the smallest of small" chances of success.

Meanwhile Ryanair said last night it was "confident of success" in the action.

Ryanair's challenge centres on An Bord Pleanala's August decision to grant planning permission to the first phase of the airport's second terminal.

At the time, Ryanair slammed the plans as "gold-plated" and said they would lead to "a doubling of the already high passenger charges".

In legal documents lodged yesterday, Ryanair says the planning board's decision to grant permission was "unreasonable and irrational''. Ryanair's filings also claim the terminal will cost at least €609m, while the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) puts its cost at €395m.

In addition, the low-cost airline says An Bord Pleanala exceeded its jurisdiction by increasing the terminal's capacity by two million passengers a year, to 32 million.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday admitted Ryanair's challenge to the big business division of the High Court, the Commercial Court.

Laura Noonan and Diarmaid McDermott
Irish Independent

Airport's €120m Pier D ready for take off

RELIEF could finally be on hand for some of the long-suffering travelling public using Dublin Airport, as the €120m Pier D opens.

The airport is spending some €250m this year on upgrading the airport which has been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

This Sunday the public will finally begin to see some return for that outlay.

It is estimated that five million people a year will avail of the new facility.

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) hopes the opening will improve the airport's image which has taken a battering over its crowded hallways.

Dublin Airport boss Robert Hilliard agrees there was room for improvement: "The best I think we can say at the moment is that it works."

Pier D, the DAA hopes, will start redressing the balance, as part of the overall €2bn 10-year plan for a complete modernisation.

Just four flights will go through the pier on its first day, before it "starts proper" on Tuesday.

"We want to make sure that any tweaks that are there will be worked through," says Mr Hilliard.

Pier D can ultimately handle 12 flights at a time, but the facility will offer only six gates until next April. That's because the DAA needs to dismantle existing infrastructure on one side of the pier before that side can take planes, Hilliard says.

"What we're trying to do is cause as little disruption as possible," he adds.

Pier D will be used almost exclusively by short-haul planes, with Ryanair and Aer Lingus likely to be the most frequent users.

For the short-haul passengers who do make it to the new pier, the DAA promises spacious surrounds, complete with a Soho Coffee Co coffee shop, a Thomas Read's bar and a Hughes & Hughes bookshop. For the plane-gazers, there are near panoramic views of the airfield. It is a bit of a hike away -- some 350m -- but this will be traversed using new travelators through a corridor dubbed the "Skybridge".

Looking at Pier D this week, it's a mite difficult to see much of the vision the DAA waxes so lyrically about. The magnificent views are there for all to behold and the spaciousness of the place can't be denied, but beyond that, Pier D is quite literally a hard-hat building site.

The DAA, however, is completely confident of the Pier's opening next week "on time and on budget".

Laura Noonan
Irish Independent

Construction cost and quality to be investigated

CONSUMER watchdogs are to investigate whether tougher laws are needed to protect homeowners from builders and repairers.

Yesterday, the National Consumer Agency began an investigation into whether Ireland’s construction industry is working to the detriment of the public.

The study will also see if homeowners are overpaying for work on their homes and what can be done to address the issue.

Last year, the NCA’s predecessor, the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs, fielded 2,120 complaints about construction work or buying a home.

Now the consumer watchdog is inviting the public and the trade to contribute to its home construction industry study.

“Given the costs and complexity of buying or renovating a home, we want to evaluate the consumer’s experience when purchasing a home or when engaging in construction, maintenance and renovations,” said chief executive Anne Fitzgerald.

“Our study will identify if there are specific issues where we may need to intervene on behalf of consumers and if there are areas requiring legislative or regulatory change.”

Among the topics the study will cover are:

* quality control and how builders put right problems.

* the planning applications process and how building laws are enforced.

* whether consumers are able to get enough information before employing a builder.

The NCA said the construction industry was chosen for the agency’s latest investigation as the trade had undergone massive expansion on the back of the booming economy.

The cost of buying a new home or getting work done presents consumers with tough choices so the NCA wants to see if the law offers enough protection.

The NCA aims to finish its report by March, 2008, and hand its findings to Trade and Enterprise Minister Micheál Martin, who will study the recommendations.

* Anyone wishing to comment is asked to write by November 16 to John Maher, the Home Construction Industry Study, the National Consumer Agency, 4 Harcourt Road, Dublin 2.

Comments may also be sent by e-mail to

Irish Examiner

Monday, 22 October 2007

Design competition for new national theatre in Dublin's Docklands

The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Séamus Brennan T.D., has announced that that an International Design Competition will be held over the coming months to select a design for the new National Theatre (the Abbey) to be built in the Dublin Dockland's at George's Dock.

Minister Brennan said that, when completed, the new waterside building will give Dublin an iconic and dynamic structure reflecting the city's growing reputation as a global capital of culture and creativity.

Minister Brennan also unveiled the 13 members of the jury for the International Design Competition that includes architects from Ireland, Great Britain and Holland with vast experience of - and involvement in - high-profile design projects, as well as eminent figures from the theatrical world with many years' experience and outstanding achievement in the theatre.

It is intended that the public will be given the opportunity to make known their views when a shortlist of submitted designs are put on public display ahead of a decision on a final design for the new National Theatre.

The new National Theatre will be a centrepiece of a new wave of cultural, social and economic amenities that are being developed in the Dublin Docklands - including the new National Convention Centre, the Grand Canal Theatre, the CHQ building, the Point Village and the U2 Tower.

The new Abbey Theatre will be over 24,000 square metres and will have three theatres, several rehearsal spaces, public and social spaces - including shops, bars, restaurants, cafes, facilities for performers and staff, gallery and exhibition facilities - and a cinema/lecture facility.

The three different auditoria will provide diverse opportunities for artists and writers. Currently, the Abbey can provide an average of 632 seats (across two auditoria) on any one night. The new building will provide audiences with more choices and a greater opportunity to see more diverse work with plans for some 1,000 seats across three auditoria. It is envisaged that each of the theatres will have their own foyer, auditorium, stage, dressing rooms, crew/staff rooms and technical control rooms.

The Minister said the appointment of the jury - and the publication of a Prior Information Notice (PIN) in the Official Journal of the European Union announcing outline details of the International Competition - marks significant progress in the development of the new National Theatre.

It is expected that the design competition will be completed by the middle of 2008.

Roof garden wins top award

SAP Landscapes Ltd. took the top award at the Association of Landscape Contractors of Ireland (ALCI) Awards for their roof-top garden project at the SAS Radisson Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin.

SAP Landscapes won the Annual Bog Oak Trophy 2007 for Outstanding Achievements in Landscaping & Design 2007.

Each year, the ALCI presents awards recognising the excellent standard of landscaping and garden design achieved by its members. The awards are presented at the annual awards ceremony to the contractors who are deemed to have completed projects - both large and small - to an extremely high standard.

The judgement is based on a number of criteria such as -

* Original concept and design
* Standard of work in both hard and soft landscaping
* Integration and suitability
* Efficiency - and
* Overall presentation.

Dublin City Council's decision, 5 years ago, to replace the 100-year-old London Plane trees in the city's main thoroughfare, was endorsed when O'Connell Street's landscaping won a merit award for outstanding tree planting.

The panel of judges, noted the 27 boxed lime trees bordered a new plaza, while eight weeping birch trees gave a 'sense of movement even in the gentlest breeze'.

The ALCI Bog Oak Trophy is a highly prestigious award presented for Landscaping projects which are judged to be exceptional in design and completion.

The panel of judges visits each and every project submitted - and, as this year's entries were of a particularly high standard - noted that some very tough decisions had to be made.

Fáilte Ireland and Heritage Council call for urgent introduction of Landscape Plan

Two state agencies - The Heritage Council and Fáilte Ireland - have jointly called for the urgent introduction of a National Framework for Landscape Management in Ireland to safeguard quality of life, tourism, cultural and natural heritage and to provide more clarity in the planning system.

Welcoming the recent announcement by Minister of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley T.D., regarding the first steps in honouring the Government commitment to develop a National Landscape Strategy, Fáilte Ireland and the Heritage Council expressed the hope that the results of their collaboration would help inform the process.

Separate studies conclude that responsibility for Ireland's landscapes should clearly lie with one organisation with the ability to advise on and influence the management of our landscapes on a national level and provide clear guidelines on land use for amenity, heritage, tourism, housing and infrastructure development, traditional farming and other uses.

Development of a national landscape strategy is a commitment in the new Programme for Government and the two state bodies want to see the strategy completed as quickly as possible.

The studies found that Ireland is now the only country in Western Europe that has not specifically legislated for the planning and management of its landscapes on a consistent national level. This view is supported by recent European Environment Agency digital mapping, which shows that Ireland has experienced unprecedented urbanisation and landscape fragmentation over the past number of years - due to extensive new housing, major road and other infrastructure projects.

This has affected open countryside, villages and towns in all parts of the country and the extent of the impact on the landscape is greater than in other parts of Europe.

The Fáilte Ireland study found that the 29 County Councils in the country each use different approaches to identify, designate and protect scenic landscapes and this disjointed approach precludes the identification of Ireland's most important scenic landscapes.

Our scenery has been a cornerstone of international tourism marketing campaigns for decades - and, in 2006, 80% of visitors rated Ireland's scenery as an important reason for visiting Ireland. The study also found that 72% of respondents in local authorities would prefer and welcome a national approach to the identification of nationally important scenic landscapes.

The Heritage Council study advises that a National Framework for Landscape Management in Ireland is urgently needed if we are to honour our commitments under the European Landscape Convention, which Ireland signed in 2002 and which came in to force in 2004.

The Heritage Council has called for a National Landscape Characterisation map and the clear requirement to have one national body or authority with responsibility for managing our landscapes. It also recommends new guidelines and training on landscape for local authorities that will improve planning decisions and provide more clarity for landowners, farmers, foresters and developers.

In welcoming the Government commitment to begin the process of consultation on the development of the national landscape strategy, both agencies consider the new reports will make a major and positive contribution to that process. The following recommendations need to be put in place urgently -

* Managing landscapes should be the clear responsibility of one body or Government Department
* A National Landscape Characterisation Map should be developed
* A National Landscape Values Map should be developed
* New landscape Guidelines should be prepared for local authorities, planners, farmers, landowners, foresters and developers
* A major national awareness programme should be launched - and
* Training programmes put place with relevant professional institutes

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Recorded monuments found on Hill of Allen

The campaign by the Hill of Allen Action Group in relation to the quarrying of the hill by Roadstone took a new twist last week, with the claim that two recorded monuments are located at the summit of the hill. In a statement on Friday last, the action group said that "shocking new evidence" had been uncovered, in the form of an ancient burial chamber (cist) and a burial mound (tumulus) at the summit.

Moreover, the monuments are listed on documentation held in Kildare County Council's own heritage section, although no reference to them has been made to date in any of the council's statements on the Roadstone issue.

The action group's statement continued: "These ancient and fragile monuments, protected by the National Monuments Acts, are within the boundaries of the quarry operated by Roadstone at the hill."

It went on to claim that while the monuments in question were listed in the statutory Record of Monuments and Places (a list compliled by the Archaeological Survey of Ireland), they did not appear on Roadstone's registration papers or maps when they registered the quarry with Kildare County Council in 2006.

According to Miriam Mulcahy from the action group, the only monument of any significance in the vicinity of the hill acknowledged by Roadstone in their quarry registration was the tower.

"In a letter to senior planner George Perry, dated 31 January 2006, Roadstone said: ‘The only archaeological monument or other archaeological remains located on or within 500 metres of the quarry site is the tower situate on the Hill of Allen, known as Aylmer's Folly.'"

She added that the company also included in its supporting documentation a map locating Aylmer's Folly as the only monument on the site. "In the planning file, there is no acknowledgment by Kildare County Council of the burial chamber and burial mound monuments, and no indication that the planners have consulted with or intend to consult with the National Monuments Service or any other statutory bodies," said Ms. Mulcahy.

Any monument listed in the RMP is protected under the National Monuments Acts and the onus is on the landowner to be informed of the existence of recorded monuments on their land. Damage to a monument listed in the RMP is a criminal offence, subject to steep fines and possible imprisonment.

"Archaeologists could tell without any digging, just by looking at the landscape, that there is at least one burial site there. With a formal assessment, who knows what more they might find?" said Ms. Mulcahy.

"It appears that Roadstone and Kildare County Council are simply pretending that the monuments do not exist. If the parties do not acknowledge them, they are not protecting them either," she added. "We have already argued that a planning application and an environmental impact assessment were absolutely required in the case of Roadstone's Allen quarry, under both Irish and European law. A planning application would have set in motion the mechanism that requires planners to check the RMP for undisclosed monuments, and an environmental impact assessment would necessarily have included a detailed archaeological assessment carried out by a qualified archaeologist," Ms. Mulcahy stated.

Kildare County Council said last week (prior to the claim in respect of the monuments) that an agreement recently negotiated with Roadstone in relation to the Allen quarry would be signed in the near future and would then form an entry on the planning register and become public information.

Asked this week for a comment on the latest developments, a council spokesperson said: "The Hill of Allen Action Group has not made the council aware of any findings and it would be advised to do so. As things stand, Kildare County Council cannot comment on the issue."

Yet the Hill of Allen Action Group maintains that the existence of the burial chamber and mound is verified by documents held in the council's own offices. "The Record of Monuments and Places (RMP) should be held by the planning or heritage offices in each local authority. We asked in Kildare County Council's planning section and were told it was not available there. Then we tried the heritage officer and initially she didn't seem sure what we were talking about, but then she produced the RMP."

The documents, including maps and listings, clearly identify the Hill of Allen as the location of "Tumulus, possible site" and "Cist site."

In a letter to all of Kildare's county councillors, the Hill of Allen Action Group has stated: "Please do not stand by and allow the desecration of these Monuments, which are the graves of our ancestors. We respectfully request that you demand immediate answers from the planning department, refuse to support this material contravention of the development plan, and, if necessary, reject their agreement with Roadstone under section 3 of the City and County Management Act, 1955."

Vicki Weller
Kildare Nationalist

Dublin high-rise schemes rejected

An Bord Pleanála has refused planning permission for two high-rise schemes in Dublin's Digital Hub in the Liberties, saying that they would "seriously injure the residential amenities of the area". Manor Park Homes and P. Elliott and Co had both acquired sites previously owned by the State on either side of Thomas Street. The deals, involving the transfer of more than five acres of land in November 2005, netted €118 million for the Government. But Manor Park was refused permission by Dublin City Council for a "mini-Manhattan" scheme on the south side of Thomas Street. It would have included a cluster of high-rise buildings of up to 53 storeys, flanked by lower buildings on the street frontage.

Upholding the council's decision, An Bord Pleanála noted that the 2.5-acre site was "located in the historic core of Dublin city and fronts on to . . . one of the city's oldest streets", which is also designated a conservation area in the current Dublin City Development Plan. The board also referred to the council's policy of protecting the skyline of the inner city, in line with the criteria regarding building heights set out in the 2000 study by London-based urban designers DEGW, which put forward a strategy for building heights in the city. In its ruling, the board said that the proposed development would contravene these policies because of the "excessive height of the proposed buildings generally . . . ranging from 11 storeys on Thomas Street to 53 storeys at the southern end of the site".It also cited the "unsatisfactory nature and form of development based on a podium with full site coverage", saying that this would be "significantly out of character with the area". The board considered that the proposed development "would seriously injure the residential amenities of the area and/or development potential of property in the vicinity by reason of overlooking, overshadowing and visual intrusion". Dealing with the P. Elliott scheme for a three-acre site on the north side of Thomas Street, which involved another high-rise cluster up to 16 storeys, An Bord Pleanála gave similar reasons for refusing permission - including "excessive" scale and height.Notwithstanding the city council's objective to support the Digital Hub, it considered that the development "would not represent an appropriate redevelopment of this area, or a form of development that is sufficiently sympathetic to its historic character". It said that the proposed 16-storey tower would seriously detract from the setting of the 18th century Guinness windmill, which is a protected structure, while the height of a second block would seriously detract from a protected period house at 164 Thomas Street. The board also said that the "excessive reliance" on roof gardens (as opposed to internal courtyards) for private open space by future residents was "not acceptable in residential amenity terms, having regard to the difficulty of access and the lack of security of such spaces".

Frank McDonald
2007 The Irish Times

Save Lough Ree campaign set to go global

THE CAMPAIGN to protect the integrity of Lough Ree and oppose plans by Dublin City Council to extract vast volumes of water to serve the growing demands of the greater Dublin area is going global.

The Shannon Protection Alliance (SPA), which is behind the campaign of opposition is lobbying for support in the UK and US and is making moves to establish campaign offices in London and New York.

“We are seeking the support of ex-pats in the UK and US with a view to setting up a support mechanism and campaign offices in London and New York. We are polarising ex-pats from counties along the Shannon basin and this is as much about moral support for our campaign as it is about fundraising,” PJ Walsh PRO for the group said.

“When you take into consideration the costs of scientific reports and the associated legal costs, we estimate that we will need at least €100,000 and that costs could run to as much as €250,000 for this campaign, which could continue for a number of years,” Mr Walsh added. Members of the group have already met with ex-pats and other interested parties in London and are currently in New York drumming up support for their campaign to protect Lough Ree and the River Shannon.

Friends of the Irish Environment

Planning officials may be breaching the property rules

LOCAL authority planners in Kerry and other parts of the country may be breaching private property rights by insisting that a person must live where they build, it has been claimed.

Senator Paul Coghlan said it is his view that restrictions imposed by a number of planning authorities may be illegal and unconstitutional.

He successfully called for an adjournment debate on planning with the Minister for the Environment in the Seanad.

The Kerry Fine Gael senator remarked: “I put it to the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Batt O’Keeffe, that restrictions on residence as a condition of planning are misplaced and have nothing to do with planning.

“I pointed out that one county council has inserted a planning condition that a person must reside in the domicile for up to 10 years before he or she is permitted to sell on the property.”

He said considering planning permissions only obtain for a period of five years, it is clear this situation is “ludicrous”.

“These are very unfair impositions and do not serve any legitimate planning aim,” Senator Coghlan complained.

“The minister confirmed that the European Commission has written to the Department of the Environment seeking a view on the compatibility of certain county development plans’ provisions with articles in the European Community Treaty on the freedom of establishment and the free movement of capital.

“I accept that the minister is precluded from publishing correspondence from the Commission by legal advice. However, I made the point that, in the context of European law, the European Convention on Human Rights recognises the right to private property,” Senator Coghlan remarked.

“I believe that local authorities by imposing ownership restrictions as outlined above are breaching those rights in a blatant manner,” he added.

Friends of the Irish Environment

Reopening of Dunleer station under threat

An Taisce has told An Bord Pleanála that the proposed re-opening of Dunleer train station will be jeopardised if it approves two planning applications which together involve the development of three parcels of land that adjoin the station.

The station closed in 1984 but its reopening is a stated objective of the Louth county development plan. Iarnród Éireann has said it is in talks with the council about options for additional stations in Louth including Dunleer.

The largest development is proposed by Dunleer Co-Ownership and is for a new town centre as well as 162 residential units. The existing small access road to the disused station would be a key access road for the scheme.

The second development by local landowner Tony Mallon is for 26 apartments and retail units.

Dunleer's population rose by 43 per cent between 2002 and 2006 due to its location beside the M1 motorway and the higher house prices in Drogheda forcing buyers further up the motorway.

In her report on the Dunleer Co-ownership application, the council's senior executive, planner Emer O'Callaghan, said: "A park-and-ride facility would be ideal here where commuters from the mid-Louth area could travel to Dunleer, park and then take the train."

An Taisce said the applicant "did not provide any such facility as part of this application. This issue was not raised by Louth County Council in its further information request."

The council's senior planner Gerry Duffy said: "The proposed development does not reflect the scale and character of Dunleer village and seems more appropriate for a much larger town or city, having regard to density, design and height of buildings, in particular."

He said the density of 122 units a hectare "is excessive and inappropriate in terms of Dunleer village and again seems more appropriate to Dublin city context."

However, the council granted permission subject to conditions.

An Taisce says An Bord Pleanála should not decide on the appeals until a master plan is prepared for the entire site or else risk effectively inhibiting "any coherent and efficient reopening of the railway station".

Louth Green Party councillor Mark Deary has made a submission to the board saying Dunleer's "rapid growth demands that the station be reopened in the interests of sustainable development".

"It can only benefit from the reopening of the station through the linkages it creates to the two biggest cities on the island, Dublin and Belfast, and two of the largest towns," Mr Deary added. "Reducing car dependency among the new commuters in Dunleer will assist in our meeting Kyoto commitments."

The appeals are due to be decided on by early next year.

Elaine Keogh
The Irish Times

Architecture policy to be reviewed

The Government's architecture policy is to be reviewed, with more emphasis on sustainable development and urban design, Minister for the Environment John Gormley announced yesterday.

Speaking at the launch of the Irish Architecture Foundation's Open House Dublin 2007, which allows the public to visit a diverse range of buildings this weekend, he said that it was important not only to recognise the social and cultural importance of architecture, but also the changing nature of issues relating to the built environment.

The new policy would continue to encourage and support high-quality, modern architecture and incorporate architectural heritage in a "holistic, integrated manner", as well as developing an a plan that would promote more public awareness of these areas.

The Minister said that in the coming weeks he would appoint a steering committee drawn from a broad spectrum of public and private sector nominees, which would oversee the development of the policy, as well as three focus groups dealing with the main themes. There would also be extensive public consultation, including a number of broader nationwide seminars or "think-ins", where a range of individuals and organisations involved in the built environment and members of the public would be brought together.

Mr Gormley said that the new architecture policy would replace the present Action on Architecture programme, which was adopted in 2002. That programme pledged that architectural quality would become one of the key criteria for all publicly funded building projects in Ireland.

Turning to Open House Dublin 2007, the Minister said the first of these events last year had captured the public imagination, with up to 10,000 people visiting a diverse range of buildings, including Liberty Hall.

The theme of this year's event is The Living City, focusing on buildings that make a vibrant contribution to Dublin life.

Thirty buildings will be open to the public over the weekend, including residential buildings such as the Wooden Building in Temple Bar.

Further information on Open House can be obtained at

Irish Times

Naomi Klein's critique of neo-liberalism - The Shock Doctrine

I read this book over the last week and I advise anyone to have a read. Over the past few decades, many of the ideas of the far left have found new homes on the right. Lenin believed that it was in conditions of catastrophic upheaval that humanity advances most rapidly and the idea that economic progress can be achieved through the devastation of entire societies has been a key part of the neo-liberal cult of the free market.

Soviet-style economies left an inheritance of human and ecological devastation, while neo-liberal policies have had results that are not radically dissimilar in many countries. Yet, while the Marxist faith in central planning is now confined to a few dingy sects, a quasi-religious belief in free markets continues to shape the policies of governments.

Many writers have pointed to the havoc and ruin that have accompanied the imposition of free markets across the world. Whether in Africa, Asia, Latin America or post-communist Europe, policies of wholesale privatisation and structural adjustment have led to declining economic activity and social dislocation on a massive scale. Anyone who has watched a country lurch from one crisis to another as the bureaucrats of the IMF impose cut after cut in pursuit of the holy grail of stabilisation will recognise the process Naomi Klein describes in her latest and most important book to date.

In Argentina not long before the economic collapse of 2002, the government was struggling to implement an IMF diktat to roll back public spending at a time when the economy was already rapidly contracting. The result was predictable and the country was plunged into a depression, with calamitous consequences in terms of poverty and social breakdown.

Klein believes that neo-liberalism belongs among "the closed, fundamentalist doctrines that cannot co-exist with other belief-systems . . . The world as it is must be erased to make way for their purist invention. Rooted in biblical fantasies of great floods and great fires, it is a logic that leads ineluctably towards violence."

As Klein sees it, the social breakdowns that have accompanied neo-liberal economic policies are not the result of incompetence or mismanagement. They are integral to the free-market project, which can only advance against a background of disasters. At times, writing in a populist vein that echoes her first book No Logo, published seven years ago, Klein seems to suggest that these disasters are manufactured as part of a deliberate policy framed by corporations with hidden influence in government.

New energy plan fuels cancer fears

Fears are growing in the north Leinster area that State plans for more power lines to supply the spiralling population could put thousands of people at risk from cancer.

The overhead power lines will traverse thousands of homes, schools and businesses in the densely populated area.

Protest groups are being formed as a growing body of residents fear the power lines will run too close to homes and schools, endangering health by exposing them to electro-magnetic radiation.

The use of underground cables, which would eliminate this risk, is believed to have been ruled out as too expensive.

Eirgrid plans to site the cables between 25 and 50 metres from homes and schools in Meath, Cavan and Monaghan, despite studies in Britain having warned that even at 600 metres, there is still a high risk of serious illness for residents.

Eirgrid, which manages the national electricity grid, now faces huge resistance to plans to run 45 kilometres of high voltage inter-connector to link Ireland's electricity to the North and a 58 kilometre power line across Meath.

Some international studies have shown that living beside power lines increases the risk of cancers, miscarriages and childhood leukaemia. Eirgrid says there is no conclusive evidence of health risks.

Gary Carville, a Fine Gael councillor in Monaghan, said there has been an appalling lack of information about the project.

"It raises serious environmental and health issues for the people in all areas through which the scheme is envisaged," he said.

Eirgrid told one public meeting in Cavan that the power lines will be built to within 25 metres, according to one concerned local resident.

In a statement to the Sunday Independent the company said the "design aim" was not to go closer than 50 metres to existing structures.

However, a British government advisory group said in April that the best option for reducing childhood leukaemia deaths was to ban the building of new homes and schools within 60 metres of power lines.

It also warned that houses should not be built under electricity pylons because the risks of cancer, brain tumours, miscarriages and motor neurone disease "cannot be ruled out".

Another British study, the Draper Report of 2004, found that children living within 200 metres of a power line were 69 per cent more likely to develop leukaemia and those living between 200 and 600 metres away had a 23 per cent increased risk.

The protest is likely to echo deeply divisive rows between the ESB with rural land-owners over attempts to force pylons on their land. It falls into the lap of Eamon Ryan, the Green Party's energy minister, and John Gormley, the environment minister.

A spokesperson for Eamon Ryan said yesterday: "All local concerns will be dealt with as part of the process." No comment was available from Mr Gormley.

The new high-voltage inter-connecter requires 80km of new power line running from Tyrone, through Monaghan to Kingscourt in Cavan, where a substation will also be built.

The Meath power line, which will boost supply to the north east, will run from Woodland, near Dunboyne, outside Dublin, to Kingscourt, Cavan -- a further 58km.

The €300m energy project is enormously important to ensuring Ireland's future electricity supplies, and promises to cut electricity prices by boosting competition and guaranteeing security of supply.

Maeve Sheehan
Irish Independent