Buildings

Proposed Explosive Factory

at Killadysert, County Clare

Index


Press Release on collapse of assent hearing

Clare Champion Of 27 January, 2001

Full Appeal To The Planning Appeals Board

Letter To The Forest Service detailing invalidity of felling license

Press Release Of 21 January detailing failings of felling license

Councillor P.J. Kelly denies he signed felling notice: we ask was he the representative of shannon explosives who met the forest inspector on site and told him the applicant was unaware of need for a felling licence?

Our first letter to the council detailing requirements under the seveso directive for public information that have not been complied with.

Our second letter to the council after a freedom of information request had produced documentation demonstrating the applicant had felled more than 2,000 trees without a license in preparation of the site.

Our letter in the clare champion of 23 December, 2000

Press Release on clare county council's grant of permission

AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE RESIDENTS OF KILTALE

"Please … See Us As We Actually Are"


The people of Kiltale, which includes Grange, were under siege from the - Media that smelled a political scandal in the location of such an important building in the middle of nowhere. They struck back with a spirited defence of the middle of nowhere.

They produced four pages of facts for the employees of the new Offices describing themselves as a "thriving community of 1,000 people". The area that seems like the middle of no where is actually a "prime location" only 25 miles from the nation's capital.

The locals must be men of Meath's legends as they describe this as "a stone's throw". There are, however, plenty of stones. It is a fairly rough journey, according to the authors, as "the road to Dublin improvements were still in progress". The pleasant fa?ßade slips a little here: "It has to be said", the residents wrote, "that the community had a number of issues with the improvements that have been made."

The EU Veterinary Administrators are assured that when you get there its all worth while. The new offices are right beside the Kiltale Gaelic Hurling Club! And while the men "have had nothing to cheer about" "the ladies have done the community proud in the last two years."

As to the idea that 11 different nationalities might test the local school's cultural flexibility, the residents had no fears. They have "catered for the needs of non-nationals in the past where the children have been welcomed and integrated into the school very successfully". The school is to issue an updated prospectus shortly.

If the employees need to do a little shopping there are "two shops within a few 100 meters of the EU Offices". If the hired car is a little short of petrol there's not a problem as Kiltale boasts "a 24 hour shop which also supplies petrol and diesel." It also "has to be mentioned" that "even the Beckham's from Manchester paid a visit to our internationally known store in Athboy".

Nor will the bureaucrats have to be upset by beggars or even loungers in Kiltale. There is no unemployment. Not only that, but a "greater than average number of people from the community are self-made successful business men and women." Perhaps a little ominously in view of the polluted water the residents tell us that "It should be noted that very few people who moved into the area have ever left."

Maybe they are the ones who believed another of the Open Letter's claims to their future neighbours - "the water supply is regularly tested and free of all contamination".


HIGHLIGHT

"The Kiltale Group Water Scheme is, like more than 40% of the country's group waters schemes, contaminated with e.coli. The Drinking Water Directive gives a member state two choices: clean it up - or treat it. FIE and other environmental groups want the Minister to spend the money on cleaning our countryside up and protecting the sources of the groundwater we drink. The Government wants to treat it- curing the symptoms instead of the disease."


THE EU's anti-fraud office has been asked to investigate the decision to locate the European Commission's third home in a remote area of Ireland rather than in a major town, as originally planned.
EUROPEAN VOICE

30 May, 2001


By John Shelley.

THE EU's anti-fraud office has been asked to investigate the decision to locate the European Commission's third home in a remote area of Ireland rather than in a major town, as originally planned.

A complaint over the way the site for the European Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) was chosen has been handed to OLAF by Jan Karlsson, president of the Court of Auditors.

Patricia McKenna, the Irish Green MEP who first referred the matter to the auditors, believes the EU was misled into accepting an unsuitable location for the office the only Commission directorate based outside Brussels or Luxembourg.

"I don't think people realised it was going to go in a really remote area," she said. "They assumed that it was close to a big city or a town which would have a certain amount of infrastructure."

A spokesman for OLAF said a decision on whether an investigation was withinits remit will be taken in the next few weeks. If it is they will launch an official probe, he said.

EU leaders decided in 1993 to set up the Food and Veterinary office in a "town" to be chosen by the Irish government. The Commission recommended it should be located in Dublin.

The Irish government decided to house the office 25 miles away in Grange, the site of an existing agricultural establishment and in the constituency of the then prime minister, John Bruton.

As Grange is not a town McKenna says this is in breach of the original mandate. She is backed by other Irish MEPs and many of the 160 FVO staff who are bitterly opposed to the move, scheduled for next year, from their current temporary home in the Irish capital.

Among their concerns are questions about the quality of the drinking water supply at the new FVO site.

In February, European Voice revealed how tests between 1994 and 1998 showed that water supplies to the area were polluted with animal waste.

It emerged this week that tests taken in September 2000 also indicated the presence of harmful coliform and E-coli bacteria.

The Irish government agency responsible to the EU for building the new offices insists that water piped to the site will be drinkable.

Ciaran O'Connor, its senior architect, said further tests had indicated that the supply was clean and that in any case the new office will have its own purpose-built water treatment plant to flush out impurities.

The FVO is technically a directorate of the Commission rather than a separate agency. It was intended to be a showcase for its decentralisation policy of housing staff in offices away from the institution's main homes in Brussels and Luxembourg.

McKenna warns that the furore over the new site is threatening to undermine that whole policy.

"The decision to locate the FVO in Grange was taken despite the knowledge that it would cause the office to fail to function and could undermine future plans to decentralise other departments from Brussels," she said.

Those opposed to the site also claim it is dangerous to house vets, who are travelling all over Europe visiting farms, in an agricultural area.

McKenna said the foot-and-mouth outbreak underlined the risks of such a rural location. "They visit farms where they are in contact with contagious diseases, they will then be coming directly back to another rural area."


(c) 2001 The Economist Newspaper Ltd. All rights reserved.

For more information about European Voice, please visit our website at www.european-voice.com. For a six-week complimentary trial subscription, please telephone +44 (0)181 402 8499 or fax your request to +44 (0)181 249 4159.

EUROPEAN VOICE 24/05/2001

FROM EARTHWATCH MAGAZINE, JUNE 2001


HOME ON THE GRANGE


Don't drink the water (PART II)


by Tony Lowes



The last issue of Earthwatch Magazine carried a story on the row surrounding the location of the new EU Food and Veterinary [FVO] Offices in a remote location in County Meath, breaking the news that the siting was now subject to a petition to the President of the European Commission.

By the strangest coincidence, no sooner had the magazine hit the streets than the story was on everyone's lips, with two MEPs and FIE calling for an investigation into the method by which John Bruton selected the wilds of his own constituency for an EU Headquarters in 1993.

Patricia McKenna let them have it with both barrels, firing off a snappy complaint to the Court of Auditors as well. "I believe", Patricia McKenna told the Court of Auditors "that the decision to locate the FVO on Grange was taken despite the knowledge that it would cause the office to fail to function and could undermine future plans to decentralize other departments from Brussels." MEP John Cushnahan told the Irish Times that he was tabling an EU Parliamentary Question "because of the conflicting evidence from the EU and the Group Water Scheme" and that he was supplying a "40 page dossier".

John Bruton may have been able to laugh off his critics when he was in power and originally challenged in Brussels. He reputedly claimed Grange was a townland and that townlands were Irish population centres. In fact Grange, which is part of Kiltale, is 12 km from Trim, the nearest "town".

And it had seemed such cunning logic at the time to convince the local authority that even though the land was zoned for agriculture, a massive office block was OK because it was "agricultural related". That was fine until the employees sought planning permission for homes within a sustainable distance only to be refused - because it was an agricultural area.

Bruton is having a little more difficulty now, isolated and out of power, especially given the F&M restrictions which can only highlight the utter foolishness of locating a Veterinary service for 11 countries in an intensive agricultural area for the sake of a few votes.

As if this wasn't bad enough, the continued insistence that the water supply was now cleaned of all pollution was shown to be another spin when a Freedom of Information request revealed that throughout 2000 test results were so bad that the Health Board had to declare the water unfit for human consumption even before the year was over.

It was not only John Doyle, the Kiltale Group water Scheme Chairman, who called the - Media reports "sensationalist". Noel Dempsey, environmental Minister, was - as they say - badly advised when he went on the warpath. He claimed in the Meath Chronicle that all the reports from the OPW in 1999, 2000, and 2001 showed "no evidence of pollution whatsoever". Dempsey struck out at those who "wilfully or unwittingly misrepresent the position in relation to water quality provided from the Kiltale Water Supply Scheme."

Group Water Scheme Chairman Doyle even swore to his local paper that he had confirmed with Meath County Council that the North Eastern Health Board tested the water and all evidence of contamination was reported to the Council. He was more right than he knew.

The Freedom of Information request for FIE showed that tests taken by the Health Board declared the water unfit for human consumption based on failed tests on 9 May, 12 September, 19th September, 2000. Not only that, but the North Eastern Health Board had written to Meath County Council on 25 September, 2000 informing them of the test results showing that the water was "not fit for human consumption".

Meath County Council is required under the EU (Quality of Water intended for human consumption Regulations) S.I. No. 177 of 2000 to "take all reasonable steps" to warn users if water is unsafe for human consumption. Not only did they not do so, but they allowed the Chairman of the Group Water Scheme ("wilfully or unwittingly", as the Minister puts it) and the Minister for the Environment himself to mislead the public about something as basic and important as the fitness of water to drink.

As one EU source put it, "In any other country in Europe there would have been a scandal. What is wrong in Ireland?"


HIGHLIGHT

"The Kiltale Group Water Scheme is, like more than 40% of the country's group waters schemes, contaminated with e.coli. The Drinking Water Directive gives a member state two choices: clean it up - or treat it. FIE and other environmental groups want the Minister to spend the money on cleaning our countryside up and protecting the sources of the groundwater we drink. The Government wants to treat it- curing the symptoms instead of the disease."
EUROCRATS who are about to be moved to purpose-built offices in a remote part of Co Meath are fleeing back to Brussels instead. At least 25 European commission staff due to move next year to the 30m (IR£23.6m) building at Grange, 26 miles outside Dublin, have already left the country and more are expected to follow.
From the Sunday Times, February 25, 2001


EUROCRATS who are about to be moved to purpose-built offices in a remote part of Co Meath are fleeing back to Brussels instead. At least 25 European commission staff due to move next year to the 30m (IR£23.6m) building at Grange, 26 miles outside Dublin, have already left the country and more are expected to follow.


Staff at the commission's Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) are unhappy with the quality of transport - the nearest town, Trim, is five miles away - water and education at their new offices in the Meath countryside, and are in talks with the Irish government about improving facilities. The 160 officials also want more money from the commission to compensate them for moving from Dublin.


Andre Evers, chairman of the FVO's staff association, said: "We have lost 25 colleagues over the past two years and there are rumours that others could leave. Grange is clearly a factor. People feel that it is remote, with few possibilities. It is difficult to be away from a big city. What makes it worse are the faults there."


Of most concern to staff is that local water was found to be polluted with animal waste between 1994 and 1998. The European commission is taking legal action against the Irish government over the poor quality of group water schemes, including the one at Kiltale which will service the Grange office. Irish authorities insist that no pollution has been found there in the last eight tests, but Brussels and the FVO staff want to see the proof.


The FVO office was given to Ireland in 1993 as part of an EU decentralisation programme. As taoiseach in 1996, John Bruton decided that the office should be located in his Meath constituency. The FVO staff, more than half of them non-Irish, moved to Clare Street in Dublin, then Blackrock and are now in Clonskeagh. About 160 of them will move to Grange next spring.


Rural unrest: EU officials are fleeing to Brussels rather than moving to new offices being built in a remote part of Meath

Photograph: Kim Haughton

Patricia McKenna, the Green MEP for Dublin, said the move was damaging Ireland's image and could cause the whole decentralisation process to be reversed, with eurocrats insisting on working from Brussels.


"There are no proper facilities in Grange and it is unfair to the staff," said McKenna. "What Bruton did was completely unacceptable. This should not go ahead."


A joint working group of staff, the commission and the Irish government is addressing eurocrats' concerns. The Office of Public Works (OPW) says it has met every staff requirement in the Grange; installing a gym, an outdoor play area for children, a running track, showers and a restaurant. The OPW has also applied for planning permission for a creche.


No progress has been made on improving transport links, a key staff demand. FVO staff fly all over the world and already complain about the lack of direct flights from Dublin.