CONFLICTING EVIDENCE about the impact of the proposed €150 million incinerator planned for Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour on the architectural heritage of the area was given at the public hearing yesterday.
The impact would be minimal in the context that it is already an industrialised area, according to archaeologist Deirdre Sutton on behalf of Indaver Ireland.
She told An Bord Pleanála’s hearing that one of the notable archaeological features she found in her assessment was a Martello Tower in Ringaskiddy which is a protected structure.
But the tower is located some 70m to the south of the proposed incinerator and will not be affected or impacted by the facility while construction work on the incinerator will not cause any vibrations to the tower, she said.
Ms Sutton acknowledged that views of the tower would be visually impacted from the northeast by the incinerator but said the tower would be visible from most locations around the harbour.
She suggested the impact of the incinerator when viewed from the tower might be mitigated by colouring the incinerator building and constructing a landscaped earthen mounding between the tower and the incinerator. The proposed incinerator would not prevent the development of Spike Island as a heritage site in the harbour contrary to what some objectors had argued in a planning board submission.
However, environmental consultant Marcia D’Alton, on behalf of Cork Harbour Environmental Protection Association, disagreed in her submission and said the facility would have an adverse effect on the heritage of the area.
Ms D’Alton said the tower was the biggest of five such towers to be built in the harbour which are different to the 47 others built in Ireland during Napoleonic times and it was the only one with a dry moat cut into the rock.
The tower is an integral part of historic fortifications including Fort Camden and Fort Carlyle around the harbour built by the British in the 19th century which the Cork Harbour Forum group is seeking to market abroad as a unified tourist attraction, she said.
The tower was built at the peak of the Ringaskiddy promontory to prevent an enemy from taking the hill and bringing batteries to bear on Fort Westmoreland, the major fortification on Spike Island.
Indaver had suggested the construction of an artificial earthen berm or mounding would disguise the top of the process building from the tower and this should be done in such a fashion as not to block the wider harbour views.
However, given the tower is built 47m above sea level and the ultimate height of the incinerator building is 48.27m, views of the harbour intrinsic to the function of the tower will be blocked irrespective of how organic the mounding is, said Ms D’Alton.