Appeals

FIE has appealed to the Information Commissioner Cork County Councils' refusal to release documents relating to Haulbowline Island. There are no grounds for refusing data recording emission to the environment in the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations.

FIE also provided the Information Commissioner with one Report that the Council refused to release which has now been released to the group by the EPA.
The ‘Interim Report on the environmental status of Haulbowline Island' of May 2008 says that the authors felt ‘obliged' to report the necessity of ‘emergency treatment immediately'.

Read Our Press Release

Read the Appeal and ‘Interim Report on the environmental status of Haulbowline Island'


25th September 2006
An Bord Pleanála,
64 Marlborough St.,
Dublin 1

by hand

Re: Kerry County Council planning Reg. Ref 06/2077, 06/2078, 06/2079

A chairde,

We wish to make the following submission or observation opposing each of the three applications above. We enclose the €50 fee with each copy of this submission for a total of €150.00 to object to a single inappropriate development that has been split into these three applications.
Kenmare is a highly successful planned town.

Kenmare is rare in Ireland in that it is a planned town. The planning of Kenmare has been successful in allowing the town to develop attractive streets and a healthy community, making it a pleasant place to live from many points of view, not only the visual.

As the Kerry County Council Development Plan section on Kenmare notes, Kenmare is a town with a high environmental quality. The plan states that

"The town of Kenmare is notable for the design, layout and character of its streets and buildings, and it will be the policy of the Planning Authority to seek to maintain these assest throug the development control process and through constulations with interested parties. All new development/redevelopment shall enhance the existing character and scale of the streetscapes and buildings of Kenmare."

and that

"It will be the Council's policy to protect the scenic amenity of Kenmare from intrusive development of any form and to preserve the existing uninterrupted views and vistas both into and from the town."

In recognition of its high quality natural and built environment, Kenmare has been designated a Heritage Town by Bord Fáilte.


Rinn na gCapall is an area of Historical, Archaeological, Landscape and Amenity Importance

The area in question, including Killeen graveyard, the Shrubberies and Rinn na gCapall is an area of historical and archaeological significance, including the stone circle, a disused graveyard, a former monastic site, the former butter road to the pier, kilns, and possible ringforts. Given the position of the peninsula between the Finnihy river and the Bay, this is not surprising. The archaeological interest includes the Stone Circle (a National Monument) and Killeen graveyard. It is likely that the peninsula was inhabited from the time of the Stone Circle or before. Between the Park Hotel and the golf course, to the east of the Bell Height, are found a ringfort and a souterrain.

Two books covering history in Kenmare and Glanerought provide the following information relevant to the peninsula.

From Sr. Philomena MacCarthy's 1993 book, Kenmare and its storied glen, at pp.27-28:

"When the Irish Church was re-organised after the Synods of the 12th century, the old religious communities called culdees (ceili-De) or Celtic monks died out or were organised as Canons Regular of St. Augustine. The monastery which can be traced at the shrubberies on the left bank of the Finnehy, was probably built by those Augustinians. It is more than likely that they too built the arch, erroneously called Cromwell's bridge…" (copy attached)

From the Marquis of Lansdowne, in Glanerought and the Petty Fitzmaurices (1937), the following can be learnt.

The Industrial Colony of up to 815 Protestant immigrants in what later became Kenmare from 1670 until they fled in 1687 was based to the east of the Finnihy and probably used Cromwell's bridge to access their mines. Whether they used the monastery buildings or not is not clear.

William Shelburne, later Marquis of Lansdowne, landlord of the area from 1761, engaged an American loyalist, Henry Pelham, as agent, and detailed and wide-ranging instructions from him to Pelham remain. A memo of 1775 requires the laying out of "two streets 50 feet wide at right angles." Another includes further instructions for the planning of Kenmare which begin as follows:

"Improvements of the Town (Kenmare)

Mr Pelham to make a general plan for all the peninsula west from the Lodge ground, which whenever it is approved must be considered as unalterable, subject to the following limitations-

1st A very considerable breadth to be left quite vacant round all the Sea Coast and up the river Finney as far as the Smith's Forge.
…"

In 1799, Shelburne engaged William Irvine, a Scotchman to set up a tree nursery and carry out afforestation. (Much of the woodlands in the area had been devastated by being used for smelting ore from the mines.) Lansdowne describes as follows:

"The enclosure at Kenmare, which still goes by the name of the 'Shrubberies', though it has long since ceased to be used as a nursey, was the first fruit of the scheme; it is a remarkable testimony to the excellence of the masonry work of those days that its original walls have survived, little the worse for wear, until the present day."

From this nursery, about a million and a half trees (of twenty hardwood and four conifer species) were planted out by 1816/1817.

The map of Nedeen of 1764 copied in the book is hard to read. However, it appears from the book that a large residence was some distance down the peninsula at 61. The title for 62 seems to read "Lime Kiln Field". Limestone extraction could be the explanation for the strange earthworks in the wooded area to the east of the area applied for in PL 08.100353.

This historical and cultural significance of this site is clear. Clear too is the amenity and landscape importance of the peninsula. It is used by the public as an amenity area and there are established public rights-of-way which must be respected. The views from the Stone Circle (which are presumably the reason for its siting) are an example of the links between the archaeological and landscape value of the peninsula.


The proposed development fails to respect the wisdom of the original plan for the town.

Kenmare works very well. The urban form of the town is a significant contributor to this success. There is no need to change from that successful model. Unfortunately the proposed development does not rely on the tried and tested urban design principles which have served Kenmare so well. It's not broken and should not be fixed. The proposal threatens to undermine this design. We break down our more detailed comments under the following overlapping headings.

1. Lack of permeability / connection to the existing town
It does not provide for sufficient links to the existing streets of the town. There is no link to New Road or Davitt's Place. There is no link to recently permitted residential area immediately to the south of the proposed supermarket. (Indeed this development is likely to lead to the unedifying sight of people driving to a supermarket literally yards from their houses as the crow flies.)

2. Street pattern
Unlike the existing town, there is no clear street pattern in the proposal, easily readable to pedestrians, especially visitors. Possibly one of the reasons for Kenmare's popularity is that it is difficult to get lost in the town.

3. Car-oriented planning
The existing town of Kenmare is an environment designed and scaled for pedestrians. The streets can be crossed comparatively easily, the shopfronts are close together, there are no car parks that have to be negotiated by foot. This is important not just because people can get around the town by foot, but because they can stop where they want. The streets of Kenmare are a welcoming place for people, one in which people are eager to stop to socialise etc. The proposed development starts by putting in a major junction, disrupting pedestrian access to the town from the South. This junction will quite definitely communicate to those on foot that they are secondary in this environment and will upset the balance of the town.

4. Large areas of car-parking
The proposal involves large areas of car-parking. The message from car-parking on this scale is that the area is not a place to live in, but a place to visit. It would create an environment completely alien to the existing town of Kenmare, where at the moment the car is subordinate to people.

5. Complete break of Henry Street building line
The proposal seeks to create an "entrance gateway" at an angle to Henry Street. For some reason there seems to be a desire to emphasise the discontinuity rather than integrate the new development into the town! This is opposite one of Kenmare's finest buildings, the house between the Fáilte Hostel at the corner and the petrol station.

6. Crooked street
One of the distinctive successful features of Kenmare are the straight streets of the town. Henry Street/Bell Height is particularly pleasant as the views at both ends are of the nearby mountains. Main St. and Shelbourne St. are also straight, opening up views. Unfortunately, the application provides for a crooked street, bending immediately after its junction with Henry St. The sketches/photomontages show a confusion of buildings. The distinctive feeling in the existing town of Kenmare of being in an easily readable layout surrounded by mountains would be completely absent.

7. "Urban Square"
The "urban square" involves setting the buildings back from the street and at an angle to it. This leads to building plots with no back garden or yards. This is in direct opposition to the traditional streets with their long plots stretching back from the buildings set on the street. It is hard to understand exactly what the "urban square" is for. There will be very little in it in the way of views, so it will hardly be an enticing place to sit, unlike the green in The Square, or outside tables on Henry St and Main St. which give views of activity on the entire street and also of the mountains viewed along the street.

8. Rear view of Supermarket
Moving west along the street, the public will get views of the loading area and services area, waste facilities etc. of the massive supermarket.

9. Supermarket
The proposal in total seems to propose a doubling of the existing retail provision in the town. A large proportion of this would be in this massive new supermarket. This is entirely excessive. This supermarket would be highly damaging to the local economy. It would encourage car-based shopping instead of the existing strong tradition of pedestrian-based shopping to small and medium-sized quality specialist shops, general groceries and the Wednesday market. It would be by far the biggest building in the town.

10. Access Roads
As you go further west, the idea of a street is completely abandoned and the design provides for access roads. Any idea of providing a real extension to the town is abandoned and the sheer excess scale of the development in relation to the existing town is revealed.

11. Stone Circle
Friends of the Irish Environment has already campaigned in relation to the planting of garden shrubs and other unauthorised development around the Stone Circle. Unfortunately our letters to Kerry County Council, the Garda S??ochána, Bord Fáilte and the Heritage Council did not lead to any action by these bodies. As we noted in those letters, Cary Meehan in "The Traveller's Guide to Sacred Ireland" (2002) says the circle is "probably the largest in the south-west and it has an impressive boulder dolmen with a huge cap-stone in the centre of the circle. However, it has been domesticated and turned into a feature garden and to me it's like seeing an elephant in a tutu. I'd rather not."

Thankfully, the conifers can be easily removed (and we remain hopeful that the relevant authorities will some day take action.) The current proposal would, however, dwarf by magnitudes these initial inappropriate plantings by placing houses in the view around the circle. If this application were to go ahead, the ring of free standing stones would be dwarfed, its relationship to the surrounding hills and mountains obstructed, and the significance of its cultural history would be permanently impaired

12. Development of the coast
The application envisages development of the coast in two locations and leaves access for further development in the area of the Cill??n. This is directly contrary to the original plan for Kenmare quoted above. The photomontages demonstrate that a number of other elements of the development also conflict directly with this intention that "A very considerable breadth [ ] be left quite vacant round all the Sea Coast and up the river [Finnihy] as far as the Smith's Forge".

The appeal makes something of a deal about the fact that they intend to "Bring Kenmare to the Sea", capitalising it and put it in inverted commas, and generally discussing as if this was a self-evidently positive aspect. As noted above, it is directly contrary to the original intention of the town. Access to the sea from Kenmare is already very good for pedestrians. The traditional recreational walking areas of Kenmare residents are Rinn na gCros and Rinn na gCapall accessed from the Pier. Bringing the urban footprint of the town to the coast is a negative feature of the application.

All of this breadth around the coast should be designated as parkland in a natural and semi-natural state. The significant wildlife value of the peninsula as documented in the EIS also argues for this, as do the photomontages showing the impacts on views from across the Kenmare River and other locations.


13. Phasing and provision for partial completion
Old photographs and postcards of Kenmare demonstrate that in the construction of the existing town many decades elapsed before all plots were filled in on Henry St and Main St. Indeed, although most plots are filled, Shelbourne Street still has not been completed as was probably originally envisaged.

There is no information in the EIS as to the phasing of the development nor as to what would happen if a change in economic circumstances meant the development could no longer be completed as planned and had to be left incomplete.


Conclusion
We hope we have brought to the attention of your Board reasons for refusal of this development that are substantial and undeniable. If this development is implemented, Kenmare would be irreparably damaged, both through the dominant nature of the new constructions and through their direct impact on the existing charm and integrity of the town.

Is mise, le meas,
Friends of the Irish Environment
FIE supports the chorus of protests over the proposed ferry crossing of the Corrib, a scheme that threatens a remote and unspoiled rural area. Residents have found a 1996 Report on an earlier proposal which not only outlines the adverse impacts but predicts that a crossing of the Corrib at this point would serve no strategic value.

'The Galway Development Plan calls Lough Corrib 'possibly the single most significant natural asset in the County'. Given this proposals' flawed premise and wide-spread potential environmental disturbance, the national gain arising from this development is so small and the environmental lose so great that we urge your Board to refuse consent in the clearest terms.'

Read our Observation on the resident's Appeals to the Planning Board:

'The Galway Development Plan calls Lough Corrib 'possibly the single most significant natural asset in the County'. Given this proposals' flawed premise and wide-spread potential environmental disturbance, the national gain arising from this development is so small and the environmental lose so great that we urge your Board to refuse consent in the clearest terms.'

FIE supports the chorus of protests over the proposed ferry crossing of the Corrib, a scheme that threatens a remote and unspoiled rural area. Residents have found a 1996 Report on an earlier proposal which not only outlines the adverse impacts but predicts that a crossing of the Corrib at this point would serve no strategic value.

'The Galway Development Plan calls Lough Corrib 'possibly the single most significant natural asset in the County'. Given this proposals' flawed premise and wide-spread potential environmental disturbance, the national gain arising from this development is so small and the environmental lose so great that we urge your Board to refuse consent in the clearest terms.'

Read our Observation on the resident's Appeals to the Planning Board:

'The Galway Development Plan calls Lough Corrib 'possibly the single most significant natural asset in the County'. Given this proposals' flawed premise and wide-spread potential environmental disturbance, the national gain arising from this development is so small and the environmental lose so great that we urge your Board to refuse consent in the clearest terms.'
The Secretary,
An Bord Pleanala,
Marlborough Street,
Dublin 1
17 November, 2005

Observation on a Planning Appeal.

ABP Ref. No. 214700
Planning Authority: Galway County Council
Ref. No. 04/5402
Date of Consent Notification: 26 September 2005
Applicant: J. J. Mehan, Shannon Ferry Group Ltd.

Re: installation of a cable link car ferry, capacity 24 cars with associated on-board and on-shore facilities including a 0.2 hectare carpark, a 114 sq.m. service building containing an office and a store/workshop area, two new access roadways and associated link spans, relocation of a group water supply intake pipe, pump sump and pump house and for the redevelopment of small boat berthing and service facilities and access channels.



Dear Sirs;

Friends of the Irish Environment respectfully request An Bord Pleanala to consider this observation on the grant of permission for this proposed development in a previously undeveloped sensitive rural area designated for its natural habitats.

It is clear from the EIS and the planning file for this development that it is a major commercial proposal with a widespread impact on the environment of this remote area designed for scenic protection in the County Development Plan ['Highly Scenic'] and habitat protection through Irish implementation of European Natura 2000 designations. The site of the construction of the car park and building are grasslands at Illaunavee, Knockferry, and according to
the EIS, 'this grassland is part of an important orchid site and there is no obvious mechanism for compensation'.

The developer's contention that the project is in accordance with the National Spatial Strategy, the Galway County Development Plan, and the Guidelines for the West Region are not borne out by an examination of the premise of the development.

According to the developers, the premise 'aims to address the existing infrastructural bottleneck that is Galway city as a route between east and west Galway'. 85% of the demand is projected to come from this diversion. This would require r edirecting traffic onto a total of 18 kilometers of the N84 and N59 in each side of the river.

Redirecting national traffic to a local road network is contrary to standard traffic management practices. This is augmented by the lack of clarity about the nature of the proposed limitations on cargos, if any, in relation to HCVs, articulated trucks, and buses, for which no parking facilities have been proposed.

A platoon of cars released onto these road, interspersed with HCVs, would create both a capacity problem and a danger to public safety, given that the local authority itself identified the roads serving the proposed development as 'below standard in width, sightline, capacity, and structural strength to cater for the traffic associated with the proposed development'. No evidence is provided that the NRA and Galway Co. Council are satisfied that the road quality is appropriate for the proposal and the NRA made no comment [12 May 2005].

The initial Planners Report has been interjected with a comment suggesting that 'the issue of the road infrastructure has been addressed' through the EIS and Additional Information. But in fact it is not possible to address the issue of road alignment and improvement as it does not lie within the boundaries of the planning application. In order to raise the standard of the road to the level that would be required to meet national standards, an enormous disruption of the rural road network would be required and the investment is not reflected in any of the current National, Regional, or County Plans and Guidelines.

Further, the issue of the infrastructural bottleneck in Galway is to be addressed, as appropriate, through Galway City Outer By Pass, including a proposed bridge at Menlo 6 miles to the south of the proposed turn off for this ferry. Given that the Quinncentenial Bridge carries 40,000 vehicles a day, the impact of the proposed ferry with a capacity of 96 cars per hour does not seem even relevant.

In fact, An Taisce quotes a 1996 feasibility study for a bridge at this location which concluded that the volume of traffic diverted even by a proposed bridge crossing would be 'very low'. Yet the EIS for this project states that 'alternative locations were not considered.'

According to another appellant, this study makes the following points:

' Average journey time saving compared with existing overland routes would not be significant
' Access to the main routes in the west Region is not obstructed Lough Corrib and it is difficult to see how the proposed crossing would make a significant difference.
' Galway City and Connemmara are the main tourists destinations it the Region and the proposed crossing would not improve access to either.

And finally:

' It is most unlikely that the proposed crossing would generate any additional economic activity in the area.

Leaving aside the flawed premise of the development, the proposal directly contravenes the Galway Development Plan's restrictions on developments in areas of outstanding natural beauty which requires maintenance of the existing views and requires that developments close to lake shores are restricted to that associated with essential housing needs. The infill required for the 150 metre from the shoreline for parking does not comply with the Council's own guidelines and is contrary to proper planning and development. Infill of lakeside or coastal sites for parking can not be justified.

The amenities of the area and in particular the use of the river and existing piers will be radically impacted by the proposed ferry crossing. The EIS itself states that the 'tranquil character of the landscape will be altered'.

The 105 metre pier leading to the link span will be extraordinarily dominant, as the EIS informs us that the length of the roadways as proposed is the minimum length required to ensure safe operation of the ferry and prevent the otherwise 'high likelihood of the ferry colliding with the existing piers.'

The laying of the cable, its use and maintenance in fact require planning permission in themselves. Neither the Planning Application Notice nor the application informed the pubic of this aspect of the proposal. The omission from the Planning Application notice is all the more critical as the ferry will be licensed under the Merchant Shipping Act 1992 which is not listed in Annex II of the 1997 Habitats Regulations and thus not subject to an appropriate assessment. An assessment that does not consider alternatives is not appropriate.

The entire file shows questions that have been asked, both by the Planning Authority and the objectors which, despite assurances to the contrary, have never been answered and in spite of which the Local Authority intended to grant development consent.

The Board should be aware through the appeals and referrals it receives of the many developments that are eroding the core values of the landscape, habitat, and amenities of Ireland. Some of these are critical to Ireland's development and growth. But the dramatic piece-meal development of the Irish countryside, particularly those areas with remote amenity values, has left a dwindling number locations at which the experience of Ireland itself can be experienced unfettered.

Our organisation is constantly approached by individuals in previously unspoiled rural locations who are experiencing unregulated intrusions even in areas designated for nature conservation. Sand dunes, estuaries, rivers, and lakes are all virtually under siege from a new class of affluent leisure seekers with quad bikes, water and jet skies, power boat schools and even, on the Blackwater River, an 'Air Boat'.

The Galway Development Plan calls Lough Corrib 'possibly the single most significant natural asset in the County'. Given this development's flawed premise and wide-spread potential environmental disturbance, the national gain arising from this development is so small and the environmental lose so great that we urge your Board to refuse consent in the clearest terms.

Yours, etc.,

Tony Lowes


Enc: Fee of €50.00