Re: Our clients - Friends of the Irish Environment
Part X Planning Application for 400 meter breakwater, marina, extension to piers, parking, roadways, access, and ancillary developments at Baltimore Harbour, County Cork
I refer to the above proposal which we understand is due for decision shortly.
The breakwater element of the proposal will have a significant impact on the environment. Taken in conjunction with the proposed extension to the piers, additional harbour-based parking, and marina facilities the overall proposal represents a substantial development which our clients believe will have consequences which can only be assessed in the appropriate manner.
Our clients have enquired with the Baltimore Harbour Commissioners, Cork County Council, The Department of the Marine, and the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht and have not been able to determine that any assessment has taken place.
Such an assessment would be required under the EU Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, notwithstanding any thresholds in Irish implementing Regulations. In this regard, we refer you to the Judgement in the European Court of Justice against Ireland of September 21, 1999, entitled "Assessment of the effects of certain public or private projects - settling of thresholds" [ Case C-392/96].
We are instructed that the necessity for such an assessment of this specific proposal was drawn to the attention of your decision makers in 1997 through a study your authority commissioned "to evaluate the marine engineering technicalities of the development, to make what adjustments were felt necessary, and to develop the appropriate cost estimates and programme associated with the works." The report was entitled Baltimore Harbour Proposed Development Plan Preliminary Report and was prepared by D. Fitzgibbon & Associates and dated November 1997.
In particular, we refer to page 12 of that report entitled Specialist Services and we quote this section in full:
"A detailed examination by Specialists of the following will be required prior to implementation of the Report.
a) Hydrographic Survey of the approach channel
b) Soil Investigation in the area to be developed
c) A wave/siltation study.
d) An Environmental Impact Assessment.
The costs of these are included in the estimates"
The cost of these studies including legal and other fees was given as £722,000. This figure is given as £829,000 in the Department of the Marine's 1999 Review of State Regional Ports and Harbours. To our Client's knowledge no surveys, studies, or assessment have been done to date. The construction drawings available for the proposal appear to be exact replications of the drawings attached to the 1997 study.
It was clearly the intention of your Authority to carry out these studies and giving development consent to the above development in the absence of the recommended surveys, studies, and assessments would be manifestly unreasonable and/or ultra vires.
We are instructed that our Clients will vigorously oppose any attempt by Cork County Council to proceed with this development in the absence of the necessary assessments, and should it become necessary to make an application to the Court we will rely on this letter to fix you with the costs of any such application.
We would request that you reply to this letter within 14 days of receipt of same.
Fionnuala Cawkhill & Associates,
cc: Noel Dempsey, Minister for the Environment
Thomas Tobin, Principal, Department of the Marine Coastal Zone Administration Division.
Sheila deValera, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht, and the Islands