Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Bats to be protected in castle development

Clare County Council has granted planning permission for a €70 million plan to transform the 18th-century Carnelly House near Clarecastle, Co Clare, into a retirement village.
Part of the 39 conditions imposed by the council in giving approval is a condition that measures contained in a bat conservation report be carried out in full after the discovery of a nationally important maternity roost for the rare
and protected lesser horseshoe bat. Some €120,000 is to be spent on ensuring the welfare of 30 bats.
The lesser horseshoe bat can be found across northern Europe and Africa and is listed as a vulnerable species as they have become extinct in much of their former range. They are 3.5-9cm in length and have a wingspan of between 22 and 25cm.
As part of the conservation report, the spend on the bats will include the refurbishment of a coach-house building at Carnelly.
Also, the construction of a "fly-over" on a new internal road - which may consist of netting - will be installed to ensure the bats can commute up and over the new road without danger of collision with traffic.
Master Group, the Dublin-based developer, is to also dedicate the coach-house entirely as a maternity roost for the lesser horseshoe bats and will create a new dormer-style home.
The project will create more than 100 jobs on 75 acres of grounds surrounding Carnelly House, five miles from Ennis. The retirement village will include 120 houses of various sizes, 35 apartments and a 64-bed retirement home.
Village facilities will include a leisure centre with a 12-metre pool and a specially equipped gym.
In granting permission, the council ruled yesterday that having regard to the nature, scale and intended use of the proposed development, under the policies of the Clare County Development Plan, the proposed development would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or property in the vicinity and would not be prejudicial to public health.
As part of the conditions, Master Group is required to contribute €818,000 towards public infrastructure.
The council granted permission for the proposal in spite of strong opposition from An Taisce and local residents.
In its objection, An Taisce claimed that "this development is entirely inappropriate in an unserviced rural location".
Gordon Deegan
© 2007 The Irish Times

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