We write to ask you to examine the procedure used to assess the proposed redevelopment of Ballymun in north Dublin by Dublin Corporation in view of the fact that no Environmental Impact Assessment has been prepared for this development. Initial Friends letter to Commission
Environmental Directorate XI
Legal Affairs Division B.3
Rue de la Loi, 200
B-1049, Brussels, Belgium
25 April, 1999
Infringement of Environmental Impact Assessment Directive 85/337 in urban development in Ireland
We write to ask you to examine the procedure used to assess the proposed redevelopment of Ballymun in north Dublin by Dublin Corporation in view of the fact that no Environmental Impact Assessment has been prepared for this development.
This development is part of the newly introduced integrated area plans (IAPs) for six areas within the Dublin Corporation authority's jurisdiction - Ballymun, Inchicore/Kilmainham, O'Connell Street, the north-east inner city, Liberties/Coombe, and the HARP (Historic Area Rejuvenation Project) area extending westwards from O'Connell Street to Collins Barracks) and that tax concessions are being provided for these developments.
The Ballymun development currently houses 20,000 people in high rise buildings constructed in the 1960's. It the stated intention to demolish these buildings and rehouse the residents. A Master Plan was drawn up and subject to an "environmental appraisal", the Irish authorities stating that this was sufficient examination.
The first phase of this redevelopment is comprised of 11 sites represented by 11 separate planning applications to the local authority. [Dublin Corporation Planning Register No: 3661 - 3665 of 98; 3726-3730 of 98; 2704 of 98; and others.] In total these applications comprise 750 housing units covering approximately 48 acres and with an estimated cost of IR£ 275 million.
We believe that the proposed development is of a scale and nature to require an Environmental Impact Assessment, notwithstanding the fact that each individual application may be beneath the threshold requiring such an assessment.
We would be most grateful if the European Commission would examine the facts of this case and determine if the local authority's recent notice of intention to grant permission for these applications without an environmental impact assessment is an infringement of the European Environmental Impact Assessment Directive 85/337.
A number of further submissions and replies were made whiuch we hope to post here shortly.
Complaint in relation to non-implementation of the EIA Directive 85/337 in relation to urban developments in Ireland.
FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT
8 February 1999
Mr. G. Kremlis,
Dear Mr. Kremlis,
We wish to draw your attention to a serious flaw in Irish implementation of the EIA directive.
The planning system in Ireland operates by the drawing up of a Development Plan for the local authority area. This plan makes the fundamental decisions in relation to development in an area. All planning applications received by a local authority are then considered in the context of this plan.
The zoning for development of land in a Development Plan (or in what is termed a Variation of the Plan) creates a legal entitlement on the part of the landowner to obtain planning permission for development of a type or types permitted in the relevant zoning. In effect, therefore, the decision whether or not to permit a particular development (e.g a large urban development on greenfield land) is made not at the planning permission stage but at the Development Plan stage.
Ireland has implemented Directive 85/337 by requiring that certain applications for planning permission will be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Statement and that a form of E.I.A. is carried out by the planning authority who receive the application (although it is clear that in many cases this does not happen due to, inter alia, a lack of relevant expertise on the part of the planning authority).
Article 2 of the Directive which requires that
"Member States shall adopt all measures necessary to ensure that, before consent is given, projects likely to have significant effects on the environment ... are made subject to an assessment with regard to their effects."
Article 1 of the Directive specifies that
"'development consent' means the decision of the compent authority or authorities which entitles the developer to proceed with the project."
It is clear from the situation as set out above that Article 2 of the Directive is not being complied with in the case of many developments in Ireland. Many developments are approved without EIA at Development Plan stage and then required to go through a formal EIA process when a legal entitlement to consent has already accrued to the landowner. (In the case of others, the development is carried out piecemeal by means of multiple planning applications and no EIA is ever carried out.)
We would draw your attention in particular to the case of Santry Demesne, an old demesne containing parkland and woods of considerable ecological value and enormous amenity value and potential which is the last green space between the densely populated areas of Santry and Ballymun, which latter district includes areas of serious social deprivation, and the motorway to the north of Dublin. It lies at the Southern edge of the Fingal County Council area, while most of the residents of Santry and Ballymun are within the Dublin Corporation area.
Fingal County Council resolved in May 1998 to rezone most of the Demesne, in particular the western part near Ballymun for industrial and residential use. This decision was made as a stand-alone amendment to the existing Development Plan, at the request of a development consortium who had acquired interests in the land.
An alternative procedure available to the developer would have been to have submitted a planning application and requested the approval by the Council of a "Material Contravention" of the Plan. However, that approach would, because of the way the EIA Directive has been implemented, required the Council to carry out an EIA on the proposal before the developer received a legal entitlement to develop the land.
No EIA was carried out on the proposal before the decision was made (although one is now being carried out as part of the planning permission process). Indeed the decision was made with no analysis whatsoever of the impact on the neighbouring areas of Santry and Ballymun and the effect on the human environment for the communities of those areas. This failure or indeed refusal to consider them went as far as the maps which were considered by the Council which showed the areas to the south of the Demesne as blank space - because they were in another local authority area. The official documentation supplied as advice to councillors will substantiate this, and the then Cathaoirleach of the council advised the councillors that the areas of Santry and Ballymun in the Corporation jurisdiction were irrelevant to the decision. We raised these (and other) issues with the Council before it rezoned the land.
For your information, and so that you are aware of the complexity and importance of the issues raised, we attach a copy of the bound volume of public comments made in relation to the rezoning, containing our letter as objection 579.
We also enclose a copy of the 5-page report supplied to the councillors at the meeting where they decided to make the rezoning. It makes clear that in the absence of a formal requirement for EIA there is effectively no meaningful consideration of the environmental impact of the development before the decision is made.
We should point out that there has now been a planning application, including an EIS. However, we have no faith in this process, as under Irish law the Council is effectively now obliged to grant permission.
We would appreciate it if you could treat this complaint as a matter of great urgency. It is of real and serious importance for the sustainable development of Dublin and its hinterland. Further rezoning proposals by Fingal County Council are going through formal public consultation at the moment. Major rezoning proposals amounting to thousands of hectares in total are included in this new draft Development Plan. No EIA has been carried out and the Council is likely to be making decisions on this draft Plan in March or April 1999.
The protection given the environment by the EIA Directive is only a procedural protection. In that context it is vital that proper environmental impact analysis is made of these major decisions and proposal in relation to the urban form of Dublin, and of similar proposals in other areas. Under the current Irish legislative provisions, EIA after the zoning decisions have been made in the case of new urban developments is effectively meaningless.
Friend's submission to the Limerick City Development Plan Review:
Limerick, mock Georgian PVC window capital of Ireland "In recognition of the special quality of the brick and timber sash windows which defines the character of the major part of the city's historic building stock..."
Mr. Maurice Moloney, City Manager, 8th.June 1998
Civic Offices , Limerick.
RE; SUBMISSION ON 1998 LIMERICK CITY DRAFT DEVELOPMENT PLAN REVIEW.
For decades the lack of planning control on Limerick's noble streets and
terraces has been a source of frustration and bewilderment to those
concerned about Ireland's cultural heritage and environment. The current
Limerick Corporation Review of the City Development Plan presents the
opportunity to address the matter.
With is impresive Shannonside setting, medieval heart of Cathedral and
Castle, great Newtown Pery layout of steets and Crescent, and new Hunt
Museum Limerick should be poised to take its place in the premier league of
European historic cities of its size. However the Limerick Corporation
Development Plan provisions providing for the maintenance of the city's
architectural heritage have not increased in content or effectiveness over
the last three decades. Limerick's failure of planning enforcement of
Development Plan Listed Building objectives to ensure that detrimental
Material Alterations are subject to Planning Permission, is unequalled not
just in Ireland, but probably in any European historic city. The level of
unauthorised aluminium and uPVC replacement all over its listed Classical
terraces gives Limerick the dubious distinction of being open to
international ridicule as the Mock Georgian Plastic Capital.
The 1998 Limerick City Draft Development Plan shows that Limerick
Corporation is not remotely confronting its responsibilities. Despite the
high quality work that has been achieved in projects such as the Milk
Market, the Hunt Museum, the conversion of the Presbyterian Church, and by
Limerick Civic Trust in different locations, the quality of the overall
historic fabric is spiralling downhill. Uncontrolled gritblasting and
cement pointing is ravaging the city's older brickwork and uPVC windows
dominate most streets.
This situation cannot continue.
Limerick is now seeking to promote itself as a Heritage Tourism
destination, for which huge EU funding has been granted for the
overwhelmingly worthy Hunt Museum project and the very dubious Castle Lane
one. The city cannot continue to market itself in this way and draw down
EU funds, while the quality of its real architectural inheritance is
Since 1997 Ireland has ratified the CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE
ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE OF EUROPE, ( the Granada Convention 1985). This
imposes a European Treaty obligation on Ireland to maintain its distinctive
part of Europe's architectural heritage. Limerick Corporation as Planning
Authority for what is a significant European historic city is obliged in
conjunction with central government to implement a co-ordinated series of
measures in accordance with the Treaty Articles.
The most im- Mediate priority is to ensure that the current Development Plan
review process achieves a comprehensive Listing and planning control
framework for the preservation and enhancement of the city's historic
building stock. Its most im- Mediate objective must be to halt the tide of
plastic window infestation and initiate its appropriately designed reversal. As the same
time the commercial core of the city must be strengthened against the
threat of peripheral development, while reducing the level of dependency on
the motor car as primary means of mobility.
THE PLASTICISATION OF LIMERICK
WESTERNMOST RENAISSANCE CITY IN EUROPE
PLASTIC MOCK GEORGIAN CAPITAL
HERITAGE TOURISM INVESTMENT - SHAM AND REALITY
Limerick has received what is in terms of international significance,
quality of design and huge good value for the EU grant involved, the most
impressive single heritage investment in Ireland; the Hunt Museum. At the
same time it has also received what is probably the single most dubious
"heritage" development in the entire country, the £3.8 million EU and
Shannon Development Castle Lane beside King Johns Castle (above right).
This includes the "reconstruction" of a 19th. century warehouse of the very
type still being demolished in the Milk Market area. It is a Disneyesque
piece of historical conceit basically designed as a large tour bus stop
pub,while the real heritage of the city suffers progressively accelerating
HONKEY TONKEY LIMERICK
As the city and economy grows the dependency on motor car mobility grows
even more dis-proportionally, due to the failure to invest in public
transport and promote cycling. The approach roads around the city are
becoming more like a mid west American city (above centre) . The design
reference for places of social resort are becoming more American (below
left and centre). When the "traditional" style is adopted in pub
refurbishment the result is over blown parody, such as "The Newtown Pery".
This adopts a bogus establishment date of 1806, but in its lumpy teak
street frontage, illiterately used Classical detailing plonked onto the
first floor windows, and kitsch clock, lamp and uPVC windows represents the
total anthesis of the simple design elegance of the early 19th. century.
The appearance of the city's terraces large and small is now dominated by
uPVC or coated aluminium windows,(above right and centre right), poorly
performing and inappropriate materials for the Irish climate as the
deteriorating new Tourist Office shows (below right).
THE NEW CIVIC ARCHITECTURE - AMBITION AND REALITY
Limerick more that any any other Irish city has commendably sought to design
new public buildings in a bold confidently contemporary idiom. The Louvre
pyramid in Paris shows how innovative contemporary design and materials can
compliment and add to the impact of historic buildings. Unfortunately the
new Civic buildings in Limerick have been let down by poor quality
materials and detailing. The Civic Offices (above) are ageing
disappointingly. The rusting gate and girders of the Kings John's Castle
Visitors Centre makes it look like and abandoned factory planthouse.
THE REAL TREATMENT OF LIMERICKS REAL HERITAGE
The real importance of Limerick is the extent and quality of its 18th. and
19th. planned streets and buildings. All over the major terraces original
sash windows with their delicate glazing bars and hand made glass have been
needlessly swept away and replaced by plastic flip out frames of various
incongruous designs. Catherine St.(below left and centre), Villiers
Almshouses (below right). Despite the European status of Limerick as a
major brick Classical city no concern or attention has been directed into
enforcing proper maintenance standards. However while hideous window
replacement can be reversed in the future, the abuse of brickwork through
ill advised grit blasting in the name of cleaning cannot be. This leaves
the surface pitted and its performance lifetime drastically reduced.
Blasted and pitted brickwork in Catherine St. with absurd new add on cement
detailing (above left). Brick facade in O"Connell St. being attacked by an
industrial shot blasting company in the course of a Sunday morning (above
THE LEGACY OF THE 1960'S AND 1970S
Limerick suffered as badly as Cork or Dublin
from poor quality and out of scale buildings
in the 1960s and 1970s.AIB and Royal George
Hotel O'Connell St. (above) and various State
and Semi State offices in the Henry St. area
such as Telecom (below). Many of these
facades have poor quality facing materials
and window systems which will require
total replacement in the im- Mediate future. In
contrast the city still abounds with 150 to 200
year old buildings with brick facades and
timber doors and windows capable of
performing satisfactorily for generations more.
QUALITY OF RECENT COMMERCIAL ARCHITECTURE
Of all Irish cities Limerick has been the most successful in achieving an
overall coherence of quality and scale in the the extensive development
generated by the Urban Renewal Tax incentives from the late 1980s and
throughout the 1990s. A mixture of new buildings have satisfactorily
re-established streetscapes in Henry St. (above right), and Charlotte Quay
(above centre) though the effect of the slate clad plantrooms is
unfortunate. Cruises St. though bringing about the undesirable demolition
of the old Cruises Hotel, has been designed as an open shopping precinct
satisfactorily fitting into the grain of the city (centre and bottom
right). The conversion of the former Presbyterian Church in Henry St. to
offices (below centre) is a model of sensitively designed and creative
CRUDE DESIGN QUALITY OF uPVC WINDOWS
uPVC and aluminium coated uPVC is incapable of replicating the subtle
design quality of Limerick's traditional sashes. It cannot be moulded or
modelled satisfactorily to suit arched window opes as Sullivan Insurances,
4 Hartstonge St. graphically illustrates (above left). A major fault
common to almost all uPVC windows is that the opening section is set within
the main frame, so that the mock pane divisions of the fixed and opening
sections are of different sizes and do not line up, O'Connell St. (above
centre and right). A unique uniform terrace in Hartstonge St. Lwr, exhibits
some of the ugliest window replacement in Ireland (below left). Only No.
8 (centre house below centre) retains its original camber headed Wyatt
windows on the upper floors. The flats converted Nos 9 and 10 and the
corner building forming 29 Henry St., occupied by Colin Marsden Chartered
Accountant, are treated with grotesque flat headed uPVC parodies, even
worse when swung out in an open position. However the hinged windows of No.
7 shows that wrongly designed timber replacement is as bad as anything in
PILLARS OF SOCIETY SETTING THE WORST CIVIC EXAMPLE.
Apart from representing an act of Civic vandalism all of the inappropriate
uPVC windows in the Crescent area are ILLEGAL Material Alterations to
Listed Buildings, which if subject to appeal to An Bord Pleanala would not
be given planning permission. In the 1991 and previous Limerick City
Development plans the Crescent is designated for preservation under List
"A"and the surrounding streets are designated list "B" which requires that
"any proposal to alter or demolish shall be the subject of an application
for permission to the Corporation" While the Corporation's failure to
its Statutory responsibility is indefensible, so to is the behaviour of
some of the most prominent property owners in the city.
THE LEADING OFFENDERS WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER
Limerick Leader Ltd. Newspaper, 54 O'Connell St (above left)
The Jesuit Order, north side the Crescent (above centre)
Belltable Arts Centre/ Arch Confraternity, 69 O'Connell St
The Medical Profession,e.g. Dr. Morgan Costelloe's surgery
13 Barrington St. (below left).
St. Vincent de Paul Hartstonge St. (below left centre).
The Estate Agents eg; Frontline 28 Mallow St , and
G.V.M. 26 Cecil St (below right centre and right).
The Legal Profession. e.g. Lucy Collins Solr. 55 O'Connell St.
THE QUALITY OF LIMERICK CRAFTSMANSHIP AND DETAILING
Limerick adapted the form of the Classical terrace to create a distinctive idiom
of proportion detailing and craftsmanship. The terraces of the late 18th.
and early 19th. century are distinguished by a superb soft textured brick.
There is a hierarchy of door designs ranging from tri-partite in the
grander houses in O'Connell St (above left and right centre) and the
Crescent, where doors are flanked by three quarter columns with pilasters
framing the embellished glazing of the sidelights. Off O'Connell St the
more important terraces such as Mallow St (below left) have full columned
doorcases, while more modest examples such as in Catherine St. have half
columns (below left). The quality and survival rate of embellished
fanlights in the city is outstanding. Original windows indicate an
accomplished school of joinery in Limerick. Sashes are executed to a
carefully considered Classical proportion in the size and number of panes.
Despite rampant plastic replacement there are still hundreds of sashes of
150 to 200 years in age around the City capable with good maintenance of
being given indefinite life. These retain most of their original hand made
crinkled crown or sheet glass (above right) which give the facades an
irreplaceable patina and texture in diffusing and reflecting light, sun and
shadow. All to often old sashes are unfairly written of as jammed, shabby
or even rotten when the problem is only one of over accumulation of paint,
needing to be stripped back.
THE WESTERNMOST RENAISSANCE CITY IN EUROPE
The layout of what was first called Newtown Pery outside the Medieval Walls
in the 1760s, was distinguished by a bold Classical grid plan, recalling
that of Edinburgh but equally the cities of North America with which
Limerick had such close links. The area acquired an impressive sequence of
uniform brick terraces culminating in the uncompleted Pery Square in the
mid 19th. century (above left.) . The greatest achievement was the
combination of the double Crescent and great length of O'Connell St (left)
creating a major axis parallel with the river. Off the west end of this
were streets with well proportioned terraces of the early decades of the
19th. century, notably Mallow St (below) and Barrington St. (above
centre). Newenham St. (above right) contains more modestly scaled houses.
ORIGINAL COMMERCIAL AREAS OF NEWTON PERY
The eastern end of the great New Town layout adjoining the medieval city
was designed with uniform terraces of shopkeepers premises such as Patrick
St (above left) and Ellen St (above right). 4 Patrick St the birthplace of
Catherine Hayes "The Swan of Erin " the most internationally acclaimed
Irish singer of the 19th. century (below left) and 34 Denmark St. (below
right), both of the early 1800s are the best reminders of the former
character of the area.
EXTENSION OF COMMERCIAL AREA INTO RESIDENTIAL
Most of what is known as Georgian Limerick is the legacy of a prosperous
merchant, professional and trading class. The majority would have done
business in their own houses. In locations such as Roches St. stone
warehouse adjoin residential terraces . As the late 19th. century
progressed the area of retail and commercial activity spread westwards
along O'Connell St,(above left) and southwards along William St (below).
Business activity became more prominent in the streets off O'Connell St.
such as Cecil St (above right). However the character of the upper floors
remained largely intact though with the original sashes very often replaced
with larger pane divisions. In some cases facades were plastered and
embellished such as the Chamber of Commerce O'Connell St.
THE PLASTIC WINDOW INVASION
Removal of sashes and replacement with top hung frames begun only in the
1970s initially with tropical hardwood and later aluminium. The window
replacement problem only began to make a serious impact with uPVC coated
aluminium in the 1980s followed by solid uPVC in the 1990s. The phenomenon
is already becoming second generation with plain aluminium hinged windows
installed in the late 1970s or early 1980s being replaced by mock Georgian
uPVC, showing that modern factory window systems have a performance life of
no more than 15 to 20 years. A jarring variety of inappropriate
materials and opening designs now dominates Thomas St. (entire left and
below left), O'Connell St (above left) and the Crescent, Catherine St.,
(above right ) Cecil St., Glentworth St (below left), Mallow St., and all
of the city's other main Classical terraces. The example the treatment of
Adrian Greaney's Solicitors ground floor offices in 8 Catherine Place
illustrates how even the inappropriate alteration of one floor can ruin the
character and quality of an entire building (below right).
FIRE SAFETY PROBLEMS OF ALUMINIUM AND uPVC WINDOWS.
Most prefabricated uPVC or aluminium based replacement window systems in
older buildings are double glazed and top hung. This means that the window
is impossible to climb out through in an emergency ladder rescue evacuation
situation. Because of the air cushioning effect of the double glazed seals
windows are difficult to break without heavy implements either from inside
or outside. The above photograph shows the behaviour of uPVC/Aluminium
frames in a recent fire in 32 Denmark St. Limerick. While new fire
Regulations coming into effect on July 1st.1998 require that bedroom
windows should be openable to facilitate emergency ladder assisted egress,
this is not applicable to the converted flats such as Mallow St. (above
right) and hotels such as in Glentworth St (below right). While the fire
trapped occupant of a uPVC double glazed sealed room would of course die
primarily from loss of oxygen, once sufficient temperatures are reached
uPVC building components such as fascias, windows etc. are subject to
meltdown emitting dioxins posing a risk to firefighters.
I refer to previous correspondence about complaint P99/4449 concerning the failure to undertake an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in respect of the redevelopment of Ballymun Dublin. EU Directorate IX
12 December 2000
I refer to previous correspondence about complaint P99/4449 concerning the failure to undertake an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in respect of the redevelopment of Ballymun Dublin.
I would like to confirm that the Commission has recently notified a Letter of Formal Notice (first warning letter) to Ireland arising out of the failure of Dublin Corporation to ensure the EIA of Phase 1 of the redevelopment.
The Commission notes that the thirteen separate developments making up Phase I were all closely related and that when taken together they exceeded the relevant threshold of the Irish legislation for EIA. Nonetheless the Corporation did not require EIA in respect of the developments.
In its decision of 21 September 1999 in Case C-392/96 Commission v Ireland the European Court of Justice points to the need for Member States to ensure that a requirement of EIA is not circumvented by project splitting.
In the Commission's view Phase 1 of the re-development of Ballymun represents an example of project splitting circumventing the requirement of EIA. As an example it is of particular concern given firstly the close connection between the applicant Ballymun Regeneration Ltd. and the decision-maker Dublin Corporation and secondly the major responsibilities the latter has for urban development.
In notifying this Letter of Formal Notice the Commission is not calling into question the merits of re-development of Ballymun. Substantial investments to improve the quality of life in Ballymun are clearly welcome and have the Community's support via the Structural Funds. However the scale of redevelopment the size of the population concerned and the environmental challenges presented (including potential flooding risks) all point to the need for and wisdom of EIA in respect of key phases.
The Commission acknowledges and welcomes the steps taken by Ireland's Planning Appeals Board to ensure the EIA of those developments appealed to it. However the Board's role cannot be considered as completely off-setting the deficient practice of a local authority decision-maker. In particular there is no guarantee that the Board will be involved by way of an appeal. In this case only three of the thirteen development consent applications forming part of Phase 1 of the Ballymun redevelopment were appealed. The cumulatively high administrative charges that appeals would have entailed are also noteworthy.
The response of the Irish authorities is now awaited. If you have any comments or additional information I would welcome hearing from you.