Planning Cases

To: Mr. Johnny O'Malley, Cathaoirleach, Mark Winters, Willie Nolan, Tommy Cooke, Frances McAndrew, Peter Carke, Michael Mulhern, Johnny O'Malley, Mary Kelly, Padraig Moore

Ballina Town Council
Ballina, Co. Mayo
27 March, 2007
URGENT

Proposed River Walk and Car Park on the River Moy, Ballina, Co. Mayo

Dear Cathaoirleach and members of Ballina Town Council;

It has been brought to our attention that the Ballina Town Council intends to vote this evening on the above project, notwithstanding the fact that you have not provided An Bord Pleanala with the information they have requested from you.
Further, we understand that

a) The tender documents for the bridge and design prepared by Ryan Hanley and Co., Galway give the length of the proposed bridge not as 75 metres but 125 metres. The 15 metre relocation of the bridge made in response to the Fisheries Board recommendation will further increase this length. The construction of a new bridge or tunnel which would be 100m or more in length requires an EIS under the Roads Act, 1993, as amended.


b) The authority has failed to provide the reasons for not requiring an EIS as required under the Planning and Development Regulations 2006 which require them to "make the decision, including the main reasons and consideration on which the decision is based, available for inspection or purchase.'



c) The National Parks and Wildlife Service have not been informed of this project, although there were consulted in relation to the car park and identified the 'run off of silt during construction' as a potential impact on the SAC from this comparatively less intensive development.


d) The construction of the bridge will not only require a pier in the middle of the River Moy but also the construction of temporary rock armour approximately 30 metres into the River Moy. Even if the project is considered to be sub-threshold, this will result in a significant impact on the qualifying interest of the SAC which requires assessment.

In these circumstances we are informing you that if such a vote was taken on this matter in the absence of the fulfilment of the statutory requirements and a determination by An Bord Plenala we are reserving our right to take legal action against yourselves as we are advised, charging you with any costs arising from this time.

Yours, etc,



Tony Lowes
At the request of FIE, An Bord Pleanala [The Planning Appeals Board] has agreed to consider the need for an Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed car park and footbridge over the River Moy in Ballina. Granted by the Council under Part 8 of the Planning Regulations, which allows local authorities to approve projects outside of the normal planning system and without the right to an appeal, the proposal to pave over green space on the banks of the Moy has been hugely controversial in the town.

Many local groups do not know that even if a Local Authority uses its powers to push through a project under Part 8, they can still seek the assistance of An Bord Pleanala if they believe the project will have a significant impact on the environment under both the Roads Act and the Planning Regulations.

FIE has also raised the issue of a crucial warning sentence in a letter from the Department of the Environment about the potential impacts omitted by the Senior Executive Officer of the Town Council when he wrote to the EPA to answer enquires made by Deputy Jerry Cowley, TD, and EU Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas.

Press Release.

NEW! An interview on Castlebar Community Radio's 'Mayo Today' that includes the wider issues here!.
At the request of FIE, An Bord Pleanala [The Planning Appeals Board] has agreed to consider the need for an Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed car park and footbridge over the River Moy in Ballina. Granted by the Council under Part 8 of the Planning Regulations, which allows local authorities to approve projects outside of the normal planning system and without the right to an appeal, the proposal to pave over green space on the banks of the Moy has been hugely controversial in the town.

Many local groups do not know that even if a Local Authority uses its powers to push through a project under Part 8, they can still seek the assistance of An Bord Pleanala if they believe the project will have a significant impact on the environment under both the Roads Act and the Planning Regulations.

FIE has also raised the issue of a crucial warning sentence in a letter from the Department of the Environment about the potential impacts omitted by the Senior Executive Officer of the Town Council when he wrote to the EPA to answer enquires made by Deputy Jerry Cowley, TD, and EU Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas.

Press Release.

NEW! An interview on Castlebar Community Radio's 'Mayo Today' that includes the wider issues here!.
The Donegal Town supermarket battle has thrown up an odd appeal by a developer about the regrading of land on the banks of the River Eske. The appeal, which FIE has supported by an Observation, draws attention to the unauthorised landfill of a 4.4 hectare site associated with the Donegal Public Services Centre and seeks to protect the river from any further damage. It rightly highlights the disastrous effect of silt entering into rivers where it clogs the gravel beds necessary for the spawning of fish and the first five years of the fresh water pearl mussel's life.

Our Observation on this appeal.

See also our submission on the threat to the mussel from forestry.

And our Briefing Document on this subject.
The Donegal Town supermarket battle has thrown up an odd appeal by a developer about the regrading of land on the banks of the River Eske. The appeal, which FIE has supported by an Observation, draws attention to the unauthorised landfill of a 4.4 hectare site associated with the Donegal Public Services Centre and seeks to protect the river from any further damage. It rightly highlights the disastrous effect of silt entering into rivers where it clogs the gravel beds necessary for the spawning of fish and the first five years of the fresh water pearl mussel's life.

Our Observation on this appeal.

See also our submission on the threat to the mussel from forestry.

And our Briefing Document on this subject.
FIE publishes today a study of the Kildare By Pass controversy that tells the story as it was, rather than the Government spin that a snail was responsible for the halting of the bypass. As the Study says 'To suggest that a small snail and it alone was the reason for environmentalists' objections was an attempt to trivialise the issue and to ridicule the views of those opposed to the plans in an effort to gain public support for the road as originally designed'. On 13 March 2004 Government 'advisor' Martin Mansergh wrote in the Irish Times: "There was the ridiculous delay to the N7 bypass at Kildare because of a supposedly threatened species of snail. I am deeply suspicious of an expertise that cannot be verified. Common sense and experience tells us that snails are virtually ineradicable, and the minuscule risk of a marginal change in the biodiversity of this particular species is surely a tolerable one." Now, 22 million Euro on, the water levels in the mid Kildare aquifer have indeed fallen. The 'mitigation measures' and scientists who supported them, including Mr. Mansergh's 'common sense' and 'experience' - have been proved wrong. Read the Study.
FIE publishes today a study of the Kildare By Pass controversy that tells the story as it was, rather than the Government spin that a snail was responsible for the halting of the bypass. As the Study says 'To suggest that a small snail and it alone was the reason for environmentalists' objections was an attempt to trivialise the issue and to ridicule the views of those opposed to the plans in an effort to gain public support for the road as originally designed'. On 13 March 2004 Government 'advisor' Martin Mansergh wrote in the Irish Times: "There was the ridiculous delay to the N7 bypass at Kildare because of a supposedly threatened species of snail. I am deeply suspicious of an expertise that cannot be verified. Common sense and experience tells us that snails are virtually ineradicable, and the minuscule risk of a marginal change in the biodiversity of this particular species is surely a tolerable one." Now, 22 million Euro on, the water levels in the mid Kildare aquifer have indeed fallen. The 'mitigation measures' and scientists who supported them, including Mr. Mansergh's 'common sense' and 'experience' - have been proved wrong. Read the Study.
The Secretary,
An Bord Pleanala
64 Marlborough Street,
Dublin 1
8 January 2007

Observation on an Appeal Ref:06/20612
Retention of altered site gradients.
Planning Authority: Donegal County Council
Dear Sirs;

Friends of the Iish Environment are a network of environmentalists in Ireland concerned with the implementation of European environmental law and related planning and sustainable issues.

In this context, we have been concerned over the last year with the decline in the number and viability of the fresh water pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera which forms the basis of this Appeal.

There is no animal more important than the fresh water pearl mussel in the Republic of Ireland in terms of our European responsibility. Experts agree that over 90% of all fresh water pear mussel individuals in Europe died out during the 20th century, leaving small populations scattered across the EU. Ireland has approximately 46% of the EU pearl mussel individuals remaining.

The pearl mussel is listed on the most recent International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (TUCN) Red Data List as in danger of worldwide extinction. Yet none of our better pearl mussel sites can be considered to be in a favorable conservation status.


The demanding water quality required by the fresh water pearl mussel was not fully understood in the past due to long life cycle of the fresh water pearl mussel. The benefit of longer studies now means that we have become aware of the exacting requirements of fresh water pearl mussel. The legal obligation falls upon the competent authorities of EU states to maintain pearl mussel rivers to these standards and on the Irish authorities, including Donegal County Council and An Bord Pleanalla, to ensure these standards are met.

In this regard, we would support the applicants' concerns and urge the Board to ensure that any further development at this location safeguards this protected species.

Yours, etc.,

Tony Lowes
Director


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