Gorden Deegan - Irish Times - writes: IT'S a battle of bulldozers versus butterflies, and so far the butterflies are ahead on points.
The showdown centres on the fate of a protected species of the insect.
Their existence is a stumbling block to plans to develop a retail park near the Ennis by-pass.
The Department of the Environment has rowed in behind the rare Marsh Fritillary, insisting it is Clare Co Council's responsibility to safeguard the protected species. The site of the proposed retail park is at Skehanagh, Clarecastle.
The safe transfer of the butterfly from the site of the Ennis by-pass scheme to the proposed retail park site was a legal requirement when planning for the €204m by-pass was agreed.
Neither the developer, Stephen Harris, nor the previous owner, JJ McCabe, were informed of the transfer of the populations of the butterfly to the site.
Mr McCabe sold the 48-acre site to the Galway developer for over €18m as it was zoned commercial under the 2003 Ennis and Environs Development Plan.
The plan is for a retail warehouse park, motor sales village, travel lodge hotel, drive-thru restaurants and a petrol station. Permission is only being sought for the retail warehouse park at this time.
The developer is seeking 100pc site coverage and looking to raise the entire site by two metres, which would spell the end of the Marsh Fritillary on site.
The Department of the Environment, in a letter to the council, said:: "The responsibility for the protection of these sites and for the proper implementation of mitigation measures in the Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS) for the road scheme lies with the council. This must be reflected in any decisions made on planning applications in this area."