Monday 26 February 2007

Election candidate calls for fort to be restored to its former glory

THE lighthouse at the end of Dun Laoghaire East Pier is one of the best known landmarks in the country - but none of the tens of thousands of people who walk to the end of the pier has ever caught a glimpse inside the big stone fort that surrounds it.
Now, as the big iron gates rust in the salt spray, as the roofs are falling in and pigeons have begun to colonise the buildings, there is a move to restore the Victorian fortification to its former glory.
Sean Barrett, a Fine Gael candidate in the General Election, wants the Kingstown Fort to be reopened, with the addition of a coffee shop and a museum or art gallery so that the many walkers can spend time in the area and enjoy the unique surroundings once they get to the end of the pier.
"People walk out, and it's very pleasant, but it would add so much to it if there was actually something to do, or something to see," says the former Fine Gael minister.
The lighthouse tower was built in 1845 and was finished two years later. The cost of the granite was recorded as £937. There was already a fortification, but it was "in a state of complete dilapidation".
By 1857 the British government proposed "a circular battery to be constructed on the East pier-head, armed with 68 pounders [guns]" to be completed within a year.
The result was Kingstown Fort, which was fully equipped with its own artillery and furnaces for making cannon shot. But in the end its main use was in firing gun salutes for visiting dignitaries - including King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.
Over the years, with the automisation of the lighthouse, the buildings have fallen into disrepair. But even up to 1951 there was "a large quantity of explosives" stored in the magazine, according to Caroline Pegum, who researched a booklet on the subject for the Office of Public Works (OPW).
In 1979 Patrick Flood wrote to the OPW inquiring about leasing the building for a "small institute for historical research, particularly of a marine nature".
However, the OPW apparently wrote back, saying it couldn't be let because the buildings were being used to store parcels around Christmas time for Post Office District 13, which needed extra capacity at that time of year.
Now Sean Barrett is appealing to Defence Minister Willie O'Dea to come up with a plan to make the fort more accessible to the public, who enjoy the amenities of the East Pier in their thousands.
Liam Collins
© Sunday Independent

No lift-off for Bill Cullen's helipad plan

BESTSELLING author and businessman Bill Cullen (above) has been refused planning permission to keep a landing pad for a helicopter at his property in the heart of Killarney National Park.
However, he has been granted permission for other structures there, including a large house.
An Taisce had said permission for a helipad should not be granted and planners at Kerry County Council said a helipad would adversely affect the natural environment and interfere with the character of the area.
Glencullen Properties Ltd, owned by Mr Cullen, had sought retention permission for the helipad, along with tennis court and landscaping at Killegy Upper, a prime special amenity area between Mangerton and Torc Mountains.
The application was also for retention of a large house and cottage with a total floor area of 691 square metres.
A separate application is seeking retention for works to apartments at the nearby Muckross Park Hotel which is also owned by Mr Cullen and his partner Jackie Lavin.
An Taisce , the national trust for Ireland, had submitted the location in the 12.6 hectare property was not a suitable location for a helicopter landing pad, because of its location .
"The main function of a national park is the conservation of nature and noise disturbance landing and taking off would cause disturbance to the wildlife," Dr Catherine McMullin, honorary planning officer said.
An Taisce also said any unauthorised large scale works "may need to be removed".
"The existing main house and associated guesthouse make up a very large structure which is visible from a public walkway through the nearby woodland which is part of the Killarney National Park. Any unauthorised building may need to be removed and the existing landscape and planting must be supplemented," Dr McMullin said.
The council has granted permission for the houses, subject to conditions.
The National Parks and Wildlife Office which governs the Killarney National Park were notified by the county council and asked for their comments, but did not make any submission.
There is still time to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanala.
© Irish Independent

CIÉ plans for Galway criticised

A row has broken out over a €1bn plan by CIÉ to develop a transport hub and new urban quarter for Galway city centre, writes Lorna Siggins .
Labour Party president Michael D Higgins has accused CIÉ and Minister for Transport Martin Cullen of a "sleight of hand" over the plan.
Mr Higgins and several environmental groups have criticised the fact that only one-quarter of the six-hectare site is to be used for public transport, while three-quarters of the area is to be developed for housing, retail and commercial outlets.
© Irish Times

140% rise in Irish transport gas emissions

GREENHOUSE gas emissions from transport in Ireland jumped 140% in 14 years, the second highest in the EU where the average increase was 25%.
The European Environmental Agency has warned that this massive increase will make it very difficult for Europe to meet its Kyoto commitments to reduce CO2 by an average of 8% below 1990 levels by 2012.
The report comes ahead of the EU summit in Brussels next week when the Taoiseach and other EU leaders are expected to pledge to reduce emissions by a further 20% — 30% by 2020.
Ireland blames the country’s rapid economic growth for the increase in emissions over the past decade that saw the number of car owners grow dramatically.
Transport is now responsible for a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU 15 with road transport emitting most of this. But emissions from aviation are growing even faster and increased by 86% between 1990 and 2004.
Luxembourg topped Europe’s transport emissions league with an increase over the 14 years of 156% followed by Ireland with 140%, said the Copenhagen-based agency.
The increase was harshly criticised by the Green party. Transport spokesperson Eamon Ryan said: “As long as the urban sprawl goes unchecked, as long as people are forced to use private transport to travel to basic community facilities, and long as investment in transport remains so disproportionately in favour of roads, it is inevitable that our emissions will continue to rise”.
Many other countries have managed to cut their emissions but Ireland’s level has increased to 28% over the 1990 level. It promised to reduce it to 13% over the 1990 level by 2012.
The report said that all countries would find it difficult to achieve its targets and that new measures need to be taken.
The legislation to force car manufacturers to make cleaner cars announced by the EU earlier this month may not be enough, the European Environment Agency head, Jacqueline McGlade warned.
Ann Cahill
© Irish Examiner

Agency decisions signal end to 'shameful illegal dumping'

Decisions made by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year requiring the removal of all polluting material from two sites in Co Wicklow "should bring to a close a shameful episode of illegal dumping in Ireland", according to its director general.
Dr Mary Kelly said the EPA's decisions in relation to illegal dumps on lands owned by Roadstone Dublin Ltd, near Blessington, and Brownfield
Restoration Ltd, at Whitestown, "should send a clear message to those involved in illegal waste disposal practices".
In the agency's annual highlights report for 2006, issued yesterday, she said enhanced powers given to the EPA under the Protection of the Environment Act for "tackling environmental crime" had been used to good effect by its Office of Environmental Enforcement.
Three licensees were convicted in the Circuit Court and a further 15 were prosecuted in the District Courts. "Those convicted have committed substantial investments - up to €4 million in some cases - to carry out environmental improvements at their facilities."
In December, the High Court ruled in favour of the EPA in two judicial review cases. The cases related to decisions to grant waste licences for landfills at Kilcullen, Co Kildare, and Grangemockler, Co Tipperary. Judgment in both cases upheld the agency's decisions.
The EPA also issued two legally-binding directions during 2006 requiring local authorities to take immediate action in areas where an imminent risk of significant environmental pollution had been identified. Both issues were resolved satisfactorily, Dr Kelly said.
A total of 173 investigations were carried out on foot of 499 complaints made to the EPA about activities that were the responsibility of local authorities. The majority of these complaints related to either waste management or water management issues.
As a result of these investigations, seven directions were issued to Louth, Leitrim, Kildare, Sligo, Roscommon, Galway and Kilkenny county councils, while 92 advice and recommendation notices on environmental complaints were issued to other local authorities.
Frank McDonald
© 2007 The Irish Times

Board to quash permission for landfill

An Bord Pleanála has agreed before the High Court that its decision granting planning permission for a landfill site in Co Kildare must be overturned.
A local residents group which challenged the permission had claimed the manner in which the board had dealt with the planning application had been "peculiar throughout". The board yesterday conceded that its permission, granted on the basis of certain conditions, should be quashed because the board had reached that decision on the basis of inadequate records.
The court heard there was no record of any meeting of the board as to how the planning conditions as finally prepared were approved. The issue of how the matter should now proceed will be decided later.
The Usk and District Residents Group said the conceded shortcomings in the board's decision failed to address other matters relating to how the board had reached its decision, including the group's concerns relating to further information being sought from the landfill developer by the board after an inspector had recommended that permission be refused for the development.
The board had not followed the inspector's recommendation to refuse permission but instead directed that a further information request prepared by the inspector be issued in its entirety, the group said.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday heard submissions from the sides as to how the matter should now be addressed in light of the board's concession that its permission should be quashed. The judge said he would reserve his decision on how the planning application should be dealt with in the future.
The challenge to the board's decision of July 24th, 2006, had been brought by the residents group and related to a proposed landfill at Usk, Kilcullen, being developed by Greenstar Recycling Holdings Ltd for 200,000 tonnes per year of non-hazardous waste for 10 years.
An inspector who conducted a four-day oral hearing into the proposed landfill, submitted a report to the board in July 2005 recommending that permission be refused on four grounds. The board later sought further information from
the developer and that was assessed by the inspector who, in a second report, reduced the number of grounds for her refusal to three.
The board decided in July 2006 to grant permission on certain conditions. It said that, in deciding not to accept the inspector's recommendation to refuse permission, it had regard to national policy; a waste licence granted by the Environmental Protection Agency on June 8th, 2004; the previous use of the site as a sand and gravel quarry and the location close to the national road system.
The residents group suggested the second of the inspector's reports was delivered after the board meeting of June 20th and, therefore, it did not have the required information when it made its decision. The board later said the conditions were prepared after the June 20th meeting which, it said, was not unusual because no conditions had initially been prepared by the inspector because she had recommended refusal of permission. It said the conditions were fully discussed at the June 20th meeting.
However, because there was no record of any meeting of the board at which the planning conditions as finally prepared were approved, the board conceded its decision granting permission should be overturned.
John Collins, solicitor for the residents group, said his clients have no faith in the objectivity or impartiality of the board relating to the landfill development appeal. The manner in which the appeal had been dealt with "has been peculiar throughout", he said.
© 2007 The Irish Times

Wicklow County Council pre-planning

The debate this week in the Wicklow People over the quality of planning applications is an old one. The quality of planning applications - or lack thereof - has long been a bone of contention among planners, both in the public and in the private sectors. How to improve planning applications requires clients to only hire Irish Planning Institute or RIAI members.

The Wicklow People article follows up on recent moves to regulate those who undertake planning applications. This debate raises a number of issues, but from a planner's perspective, the most important is that those who wish to make a planning application obntain advice before they do so. This advice needs to cover:

1.Whether the proposed development has any chance of obtaining planning permission. Remember, an agent may really want your work and will tell you what you want to hear to get it.
2. Who is the best agent to hire for any given planning application? For example, if it is for engineering works requiring planning permission use an engineer. An architect is not always the only possible agent. Get the best agent for your job. If you need advice contact a planning consultant such as bps (0404-66060)
3. Review the cost of a range of agents and remember that the lowest cost agent is the lowest cost for a reason.

But, in the end, the person who needs a planning application must choose the agent which best meets their needs and more often than not this will involve taking cost into account, with some architects simply too expensive for many people.

It is the issue of cost which is at the root of the concerns of Des O'Brien and Padraig Smith in this week's Wicklow People. The fact is that many people choose the cheapest option for making their planning application, which can often mean hiring an unqualified person who may be undertaking a 'nixer' to work on your behalf. This person may have limited experience and no insurance or professional qualifications. Padraig and Des are right that if such agents were not used the quality of planning applications would rise, but they do not detail why they think it is that people use those who produce poor planning applications.

I entirely understand these reasons. But it is a clear case of caveat Emptor - buyer beware - as such agents who work for low cost and produce poor quality work are unlikely to turn any work away. In other words, they will encourage you to make a plannign application in order that they can make money from the work. A professional architect or planner (members of the RIAI or Irish Planning Institute)will tell you whether it is worth spending any money at all.

As planning consultants, bps suggests that those who need a planning application made contact us prior to help answer the above questions. We'll advise on:

1. Whether planning permission is required.
2. The chances of obtaining planning permission given the planning policies for any given site. If you have no chance, we tell you.
3. The best options for having your planning application produced.

We answer all of the pre-preplanning questions, so that it is often not necessary to ask Wicklow or any other County Council for a pre-planning meeting. Just give us a call on 0404-66060.

The wider issue of the number of applications which are invalidated or refused is a much longer debate. It is about how Planning Authority's interact with the public and with those who produce plans and planning applications. This issue continues to be debated at national planning policy level.

Quarry company slammed in court

A Blessington Quarry Company were called 'grossly irresponsible' by Judge William Earley on Tuesday for allowing, what he described as, a 'lethally defective' vehicle on the road.

Richard Seale, Colliga, Donard and Kearney Seale Quarries Limited were before the court for allowing the truck, which had exceeded its maximum load, on the road at Timmore, Newcastle.

Garda truck examiners said that the vehicle had a worn tyre, broken recording equpment, had an air tank that was only held on by stretched plastic ties, and had seized steering.

The Garda described the tipper truck as 'dangerously defective'.

'It was lethally defective and it was grossly irresponsible to allow it on a public road,' said Judge Earley who imposed fines which totalled e4,100.

'This was one of the most dangerous vehicles I have heard of in evidence. It was very fortunate that Garda Roisin Daly stopped the driver before a serious injury or fatality occurred,' he said.

Wicklow People 22/2/2007

Permission sought to build new sewage facility at Ballyraine Lower Plans lodged for e35m sewage treatment plant

Mystery still surrounds a shock new plan to build Arklow's long-awaited e35 million sewage treatment plant on a new site in Ballyraine Lower.

A council-built facility has been earmarked for Seabank, but objections have delayed the project in the courts for the past 10 years.

But now a private developer has applied for planning permission to build a sewage treatment facility big enough to cater for a population equivalent of 45,000 on a new site.

The facility could then be leased back to the council, saving them the set-up costs of their own plant.

But Wicklow County Council officials say they know nothing about the development and are still committed to their own Seabank scheme, which comes up before the courts again on March 20.


'Our scheme has been in the pipeline for a long time and we have no intention of abandoning it,' said council spokesperson Phillip Duffy.

Mr Duffy said the planning permission documents and environmental impact statement had not arrived at the council by yesterday, and he did not know who was behind the application.

The planning permission application is in the name of a Dublin solicitor, but the Wicklow People has learned that the development team includes local man Greg Kavanagh.

He was keeping tight-lipped this week, though.

'I won't be commenting at all, it's just too sensitive at the moment,' he said.

The location of the intended sewage plant is the marsh behind the new St Anne's Halting Site on the Vale Road.

This land was recently sold to the developers and workers were busy on the site on Tuesday.

News of the facility took almost everyone in Arklow by surprise this week, with Arklow council officials and councillors saying they were in the dark beforehand.

One theory suggests that if the treatment plant is not intended to be used for the town's sewage needs, it could signal the arrival of a major new industry in the town with heavy wastewater treatment requirements.

Arklow harbour and river to be dredged

Arklow harbour and the mouth of the Arklow River is set to be dredged for the first time in 20 years.

Harbour officials have applied for a permit from the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources to carry out the work and dump the sediment in a specified zone off the Arklow coast.

Harbourmaster James Heaney said sand and sediment had built up and was affecting the usability of the harbour at low tides.

He said a removal of the sediment might also help to alleviate some of the flooding risk in the town.

If permission is granted it is estimated the work will take approxamitely a month to complete, depending on weather conditions.

Review to study housing for people with special needs

Arklow Town Council will audit current and planned housing stocks to ensure there is sufficient housing available for people with special needs.

Cllr Sylvester Bourke proposed a notice of motion and last week's meeting calling for the review of Arklow's social housing policy.

Cllr Bourke said a review was important given a recent ruling against Fingal County Council by the children's ombudsman for failing to provide adequate social housing for people with special needs.

He said people may have been offered an inappropriate council-provided house in the past, but, after rejecting it, may have been 'put on the long finger'.

Town clerk Des Nichols said the council was currently auditing its housing stocks but said social housing schemes soon to be constructed in Arklow had good provisions for people with special needs.

'It is the intention of the council that there are houses there that are capable of being adopted by applicants with special needs and people with children with special needs.'

Wicklow People 22/2/2007

Developers asked to leave room for road beside river

Developers of the river-fronting Marine Hotel and Alps sites have been asked to leave room for a new road beside the Avoca River that it's hoped will solve the town's traffic woes.

But it is likely to be years before the new road would be built.

The road would basically follow the path of the existing Riverwalk, beginning at the N11 beside the Bridge Hotel and linking with the Vale Road below St Saviour's church.

At last week's town council meeting, councillors discussed a meeting they had earlier attended with the Arklow Chamber where the idea for the road was discussed.

Cllr Donal O'Sullivan supported further investigation of the idea of the roadway.

'The idea did have merit and it would be worth looking at,' he said.

'It would be very unfair to impose it (on developers of the sites) but if it could be accommodated in the plan it would be good.'

Town clerk Des Nichols said the issue of leaving room for a roadway had already been raised in pre-planning discussions between the council and the Marine Hotel developers.

He said the developers had had no objections to the proposal and setting back their buildings so the road could be accommodated.

If built, it is hoped the river-side road would relieve pressure on Arklow's Main Street and even help lead to its eventual pedestrianisation.

Mr Nichols said a one-way road was envisioned, linking the N11 behind the Bridge Hotel with either Upper Main St, or the Vale Road.

But Cllr Nicky Kelly said there was already a potential problem with a Vale Road link.

'If the road ends under St Saviours that includes land that the developer doesn't have yet.'

Mr Nichols said the road was first proposed in Arklow's development plan of 1946.

Wicklow People 22/2/2006

Moves must made to ensure the protection of historic landmarks before any development at the Alps site in Arklow's Main Street commences, Arklow Town

Moves must made to ensure the protection of historic landmarks before any development at the Alps site in Arklow's Main Street commences, Arklow Town Council has been told.

Cllr Pat Fitzgerald told the meeting that he wanted to see the Victorian postbox and a historic marker stone preserved on the site.

'I welcome the development but there are historic things there that people don't want left under concrete.'

Cllr Fitzgerald called for them to be relocated somewhere else in the town if the development gets the go-ahead.

Mayor Vincent McElheron also raised the issue of preserving the old castle wall.

'In the wall that houses that postbox, the stones were from part of the castle.'

He asked town engineer Kevin Scanlon to investigate whether the development would affect the stonework.

Mr Scanlon also revealed that the developers behind the Alps-site project had paid almost e40,000 in planning fees to the council, with no guarantee of the project even getting approval.

'It's common knowledge that the maximum fee is e38,000 and they paid close to the maximum,' he said in response to a question from Cllr Sylvester Bourke.

He said the planning application had included an environmental impact statement, and archaological report of the old castle, as well as full details of the proposed development itself.

Sunday 25 February 2007

Notice of proposed Amendment (No.1) of the Clonmel Environs Local Area Plan 2006

Notice of proposed Amendment (No.1) of the Clonmel Environs Local Area Plan 2006

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to Section 20 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, South Tipperary County Council being the Planning Authority for the County, propose to amend the Clonmel Environs Local Area Plan 2006

A Copy of the proposed amendment may be inspected during the period Monday, 19th February, 2007 to Tuesday, 3rd April, 2007 during the hours 9.00a.m. to 1.00p.m. and 2.00p.m. to 5.00p.m. Monday to Friday, excluding Bank Holidays at the Planning Office, Aras an Chontae, Clonmel.

A copy can also be downloaded from the following link Proposed Amendment (No.1) of the Clonmel Environs Local Area Plan 2006

Submissions or observations with regard to the proposed Amendment may be made in writing to the undersigned or by e-mailing not later than 4.30 pm on Tuesday, 3rd April, 2007

Westmeath County Council Draft County Development Plan 2008-2014

Westmeath County Council Draft County Development Plan 2008-2014
In accordance with Section 12 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, Westmeath County Council has prepared a Draft County Development Plan for the period 2008 to 2014.

The Draft County Development Plan will be on public display from Saturday 24th February 2007 to Friday 4th May 2007 (both dates inclusive, but excluding public holidays).

A copy of the draft may be inspected at:
Athlone Civic Centre, Church Street, Athlone
Coole Civic Centre, Mullingar Rd, Castlepollard
Kilbeggan Civic Centre, Kilbeggan
Mullingar Area Office, County Buildings, Mullingar
Monday – Friday 9.00am to 4.00pm
Observations or submissions regarding the Draft County Development Plan 2008 - 2014 are invited.

Submissions or observations may be made online or in writing ONLY.

Please call 0404-66060 if you require support to make a submission.

Plastic bags levy to be increased to 22c from 1 July next

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr. Dick Roche, T.D., has announced that the environmental levy on plastic shopping bags would be increased from 15c to 22c per bag, with effect from Sunday 1st July 2007.

The plastic bag levy - which came into effect on 4th March 2002 - had an immediate effect on consumer behaviour - with plastic bag per capita usage decreasing overnight from an estimated 328 bags to just 21. This had an immediate benefit to our environment - with a decrease in excess of 95% in plastic bag litter.

Surveys indicated that up to 90% of shoppers used long-life bags in 2003, compared with 36% in 1999.

"It is now five years since the plastic bags levy was introduced and its success in Ireland has attracted considerable international interest, with the Irish model being replicated in other countries. We need to ensure that the success story continues into the future.

"There has been no increase in the levy since its inception and I am anxious to ensure that its impact is not diminished. Income from the levy has been increasing in the recent past and data from levies remitted - and population estimates provided by the Central Statistics Office - would indicate that plastic bag usage rose to 30 bags per capita during the course of 2006.

"I am increasing the levy to the maximum of 22 cent allowable under the existing legislation. I am satisfied that it will have the desired effect in stemming the pattern of increased usage of plastic bags that has been evident" - the Minister said.

"As far as the plastic bags levy is concerned - 'less is more'. I will be happier to see a decrease in revenue on account of the increased levy. What I want to see is less use of plastic bags and more use of long-life bags" - the Minister concluded.

Energy Show 2007 to showcase Irish sustainable energy sector

Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) has announced details of The Energy Show - the annual event for Ireland's energy professionals, which will be held at the RDS Industries Hall, Dublin on the 25th and 26th of April.

The event is now recognised as Ireland's showcase for manufacturers and suppliers of sustainable energy technologies and is expected to be attended by approximately 4,000 people over the two days.

The Energy Show is a two-day trade exhibition and seminar programme, covering the practical aspects of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Almost 900 delegates attended last year's seminars and this number is expected to increase further in 2007. The seminars provide an opportunity for professionals with a responsibility for - or an interest in - energy in business, to interact and gain fresh insights into topical aspects of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

This year's programme includes seminars on -

* Effective Energy Management
* Renewable Energy in Buildings
* Innovative Commercial & Public Buildings
* Renewable Electricity
* Liquid Biofuels
* Energy Pricing and Trends
* Energy Saving Opportunities
* Solid Biomass.

David Taylor, Chief Executive, SEI said - "The growth in the sustainable energy sector over the past twelve months - and the increased level of interest in the Energy Show - clearly demonstrates that energy cost and availability issues and a willingness to embrace sustainable energy are now high on the national agenda."

Over 100 exhibitors will be present at this year's event, covering a wide variety of areas, including -

* Sustainable Building Technologies
* Energy Management Services
* Combined Heat and Power
* Metering and Monitoring Systems
* Heating Systems
* Lighting Technology
* Solar, Wind and Bio-Energy.

Interest in the event has been such that exhibition space for the Energy Show 2007 has been fully subscribed since January. Among the attendees will be -

* construction and engineering professionals
* energy, environmental and waste managers
* architects
* forestry and timber professionals - and
* local authority employees.

In addition to Irish-based attendees, an increased number of visitors from outside Ireland are expected to attend.

€43m National Geoscience Programme

Noel Dempsey TD, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources has launched a new National Geoscience Programme for Ireland.

The programme - a collaborative effort by the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) - provides for a total investment of some €43 million over seven years in the geoscience sector.

Speaking at the launch in the Academy, Minister Dempsey said - "This programme has been crafted to enhance many aspects of Irish life, including the sustainable management of our environment, the development of our natural resources and infrastructure and understanding and predicting natural hazards."

The Awards Scheme and the Geoscience Programme will both operate on an all-island basis. Speaking at the launch, President of the RIA, Dr. Jim Slevin said - "Geological parameters do not recognise political borders, so this strategy has been explicitly created in an inclusive 'All-Island' context."

Noting that 2008 has been designated by the UN as International Year of Planet Earth, Minister Dempsey urged the geoscience sector to avail of this opportunity to show its importance to the wider public.

At the launch, Minister Dempsey also announced the launch of a €10 million research initiative - 'The Griffith Geoscience Research Awards Scheme'. This award scheme - named to honour Richard Griffith, the celebrated geologist and engineer, who lived from 1784 to 1878 - will boost research in the geoscience area, targeting the vital pillars of energy, environment, marine and infrastructure.

The Griffith Awards follow on the successful Charles Parsons Energy Research awards (Click Here) launched in 2006 and the Marine Research Awards (Click Here) announced recently. The 3 Award schemes are based on the provision of 7-year research funding and 7-year Researcher contracts.

"This commitment to early stage researcher career development, demonstrates the importance with which I and my Department view the contribution of researchers. I am convinced that the 7-year funding mechanism - which is the first such funding approach across the EU - will be significant in attracting young International mobile researchers to Ireland."

A key Griffith award will be presented to a competent research group who will work with the GSI in digitalising and web enabling their data bases. "This will allow open access, without charge, to these data bases and so optimise the use of the data for productive purposes."

Another Griffith award will fund the development of an All-island Graduate school in Geoscience, where PhD students will have access to modules related to Energy, Environment, Marine, Transport and Infrastructural Development.

"The Programme announced today is a highly ambitious one that sets out a clear vision for how the geoscience sector will evolve over 2007-2013. By driving a strongly focused knowledge and research agenda, the Programme will improve our understanding of how our planet works and highlight the often unseen importance of geoscience in our daily lives" - concluded Minister Dempsey.

Geoscience-based industry contributes more than €2 billion each year to the Irish economy. This figure is comprised of mining operations, aggregates, plasterboards and other materials for the construction industry, gas production and various high-level consultancy services, mostly carried out by highly skilled graduates of Irish science universities.

Dublin Waste to Energy project is still on track

Dublin City Council has said that the Dublin Waste to Energy project is still on track and the statutory processes - including the planning application by Dublin City Council to An Bord Pleanála and the application to the Environmental Protection Agency for a license to operate the proposed waste to energy plant for up to 600,000 tonnes of waste annually - are continuing.

Danish Oil and Natural Gas (DONG Energy) - Elsam's new owners - wish to make changes to the commercial arrangements that were agreed between Elsam Ireland and Dublin City Council in 2005 - and discussions are ongoing between Dublin City Council and DONG Energy. Elsam was selected to design, build, operate and finance the Dublin plant.

"The waste to energy project for Dublin is still going ahead" - says Matt Twomey, Assistant City Manager, Dublin City Council. "DONG Energy wish to make changes to the commercial arrangements of the project - including how the project will be financed - and we are in discussions with them about the changes they wish to make. We will issue a statement when these discussions are concluded."

An Bord Pleanála has asked Dublin City Council to put on public display new information recently submitted by the City Council to An Bord Pleanála. This is being arranged.

Corrib Gas Partners announce award of two significant contracts for Corrib Project

The Corrib Gas Partners have announced the award of two further contracts on the Corrib Natural Gas Project.

The first of these contracts was signed with Mercury Engineering and covers the mechanical and piping works package for the onshore gas terminal. The value of the contract is in the order of €40m.

The second contract was signed with Roadbridge Ltd. This civil engineering contract comprises the civil works and foundation package and the value of this contract is in the order to €20m.

"We are delighted to be working with Irish companies such as Mercury and Roadbridge" - said Andy Pyle, SEPIL Managing Director. "The calibre of these companies and their staff is second to none and I am confident that these companies will continue the excellent standard of work that is already being produced in the development of the Corrib gas terminal."

There are, currently, almost 200 people employed as a result of the ongoing work on the Bellanaboy terminal site. Peat removal will commence in late-March and will see a further 100 jobs created. Full construction will commence in autumn.

At peak construction period, there will be approximately 700 people employed on the terminal site. In the-long term there will be 100 full-time permanent positions created in the local area as a result of the project.

Oral hearing on waste-to-energy facility

In February 2006, Indaver Ireland lodged a revised planning application with Meath County Council for the company's proposed Meath Waste-to-Energy Facility.

The principal change was to seek approval for an increase in capacity from 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes per annum - in line with the new North East Waste Management Plan. Other changes included a revised layout of the facility and new design features, in line with best practice.

Meath County Council granted planning permission in August 2006 (Click Here). Subsequently, An Bord Pleanála received five valid appeals to the Council's decision to grant planning permission.

In January 2007, Indaver was advised that An Bord Pleanála were to hold an oral hearing of appeals for the company's planning application. The Board has confirmed that the oral hearing will take place at the Boyne Valley Hotel, Drogheda, from Tuesday 6th March to Friday 9th March 2007 - commencing at 10.00am.

Finance Bill closes stamp-duty loopholes

Gillian Nelis in the Sunday Business Post tells us that Minister for Finance Brian Cowen has proposed changes to close stamp duty avoidance schemes in which property developers leave site purchases ‘‘resting on contract’’ or enter into licence agreements with landowners.

Minister for Finance Brian Cowen has proposed changes to close stamp duty avoidance schemes in which property developers leave site purchases ‘‘resting on contract’’ or enter into licence agreements with landowners.

The changes were introduced by amendment at the committee stage of the Finance Bill last week and affect both the purchase of land and agreements for leases.

Until now, land purchase transactions could be structured in such a way that developers could pay no stamp duty on the purchase of multi-million-euro properties.

Among the changes proposed are that if the holder of an interest in land enters into a contract or agreement for its sale, and payments amounting to 25 per cent or more have been made, an executed conveyance or transfer must be presented to the Revenue Commissioners for stamping within 30 days from the date of the contract.

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‘‘If this is not presented, then the contract or agreement is deemed a stampable instrument as if it was a conveyance or transfer,” said Conor Lupton, a partner in McKeever Rowan solicitors in Dublin.

‘‘The minister has also proposed that if a holder of an interest in land enters into an agreement with another person where the other person is entitled to build on that land or carry out development, and payments amounting to 25 per cent or more of the market value of the land has been made, then within 30 days from the date of the agreement it is chargeable with stamp duty as if it was a conveyance or transfer.”

Another change tabled by the minister involves the leasing of land.

‘‘If an agreement for the lease of land is entered into for a term exceeding 35 years, and where 25 per cent or more of the consideration has been paid, then this agreement would be charged with the same stamp duty as if it was an actual lease made for that term and consideration mentioned in the agreement,” said Lupton.

The Finance Bill has now passed committee stage, and the amendments are likely to be included in the Finance Act, which is due to be introduced into law some time before April 5.

"However, these provisions will be introduced by ministerial order subsequent to the legislation being enacted,” said Lupton.


The Environmental Protection Agency has been accused of failing to monitor air quality on Irish motorways.

In a submission to the EPA, Friends of the Irish Environment have claimed that the Environmental Impact Assessment for the M50 revealed levels that breached air quality regulations yet the EPA has no monitoring sites on the motorway.

The group claims air quality exceeded the permitted levels were found in the EIA for the M50 widening at Castleknock Road, Park Drive Green, Holyville Terrace, Halting Site at N7, and the Ibis Hotel.

'The public would have never known their health was at risk from the EPA, who are the ones supposed to be monitoring air quality in Ireland', said a FIE spokesman. 'Even early Guidance Documents on the EC Air Quality Directives state that the key pollutants are mainly caused by emissions from automotive traffic. Yet the EPA will not locate their air monitoring sites at our motorways.'

'Monitoring sites should be in the area directly adjacent to our motorways. Roads leading to and from the M50 or any other motorway should also be included as houses on these would have a direct effect from the traffic.' The failure of the EPA to locate their monitoring sites along our major roads conceals the extent of the potential health effects and their contribution to greenhouse gases.

The World Health Organization has shown that the average European city dweller can expect to die a year before the end of his or her natural life span because of air pollution. Children's' lungs develop poorly, making them more vulnerable throughout their lives - particularly to pneumonia and asthma.

And the pollution produced, particularly ozone, can travel many miles into rural areas damaging human health, forest & crops. In California USA estimates of financial cost of plant injury form ozone were as high as $500 million in lost revenue per year.

The European Environmental Agency has stated that Ireland has the 'highest level of growth' in per capital transport emissions in the EU. The EPA itself stated this month that 'the rise of transport emissions was by far the largest in any sector in 2005 and reflected a 160 per cent increase on 1990 figures. 96% of transport pollution came from road transport.'

FIE claims that the Air Quality Directive requires Member States to provide for measures to control and, where necessary, suspend activities, including motor-vehicle traffic, which contributes to the limit values being exceeded.

The submission also reveals:

- that audits to industrial establishments have fallen 68% in the last 2 years while the number of establishments that must be monitored is increasing

- that present water quality standards are not sufficient to save legally protected endangered species

- that contrary to years of promises, no soil monitoring network has been established

- that the EPA itself in spite of openly publishing persistent and critical failures in water quality and monitoring by Local Authorities, has yet to use the powers given to it by the Environment Act 2003 to enforce the law.

Friday 23 February 2007

Roche favours Wicklow in roads allocation

Roche favours Wicklow in roads allocation
By: Suzanne Pender

ENVIRONMENT Minister Dick Roche allocated €20million to non-national roads in his native Co. Wicklow, three times the total received by Carlow, so argued Cllr Tom Kinsella at a recent meeting of Carlow County Council.

Cllr Kinsella said that he was very disappointed with Carlow’s 2007 roads allocation.

“Carlow got a 7% increase on 2006, which, when you take into account road construction costs there’s no real increase at all,” said Cllr Kinsella.

“He gave •20million to Wicklow, that’s three times what Carlow got, and Carlow got a disappointing 2% less than the rest of the country,” he added.

Cllr Mary White described the roads in Borris as “a lace curtain of potholes”.

“I congratulated Cllr Kinsella in supporting my campaign,” she said, a comment that rose more than a few heckles around the chamber.

Cllr Jennifer Murnane O’Connor welcomed the plans to repave the Kilkenny Road and also asked if the allocation would include work on signposts within the county.

Cllr PJ Kavanagh thanked Minister Roche for the allocation of

•500,000 for the road at Boggan/Kilbride, •750,000 for Tullow and •100,000 for the bridge in Rathvilly.

However, Cllr Kavanagh was critical of the council’s outdoor staffing levels in Tullow.

“Whenever I contact the office there’s no one on the ground to do the work, they’re all occupied,” he said. Cllr Kavanagh then proposed a solution to free up staff and suggested the purchase of a specific lorry, similar to one operated by Wexford County Council.

“That lorry does the same work as any number of men, if we got that it would free up five men. You should have seen it working away, it was a pleasure to look at the man flying up and down the road patching up his holes,” said Cllr Kavanagh.

Director of Services Eamon Walsh stated that his own impression since arriving to the county was that Carlow had a high standard of regional roads but some of its smaller roads had been damaged due to bad weather. He stated that the allocation was in proportion to the length of national roads, adding that the council requested a 15% increase in surface dressing and we got that.

Referring to Cllr Kavanagh’s suggestion, Mr Walsh said there must be a health and safety issue to operating in such a manner with just one man.

Cllr Michael Abbey stated that the Green Road was in need of major repair and this couldn’t wait until 2008.

Cllr William Paton stated that the footpaths on the Castledermot Road in Tullow were “a disgrace”.

“It is so unkempt... a perfect example of the real problem. We are at the coalface and we are the ones getting the abuse. We want extra men in Tullow,” said Cllr Paton.

Cllr Jim Townsend said that when he read the allocation for non-national roads he thought it must be a misprint it was so bad.

“And that’s with 20% more traffic and an increase in building costs. That’s a cut back in any man’s language,” Cllr Townsend said.

Cllr Enda Nolan, however, was upbeat about the vast improvement to the county’s road in recent years.

“I remember a time when you’d be driving with your finger constantly to the windscreen such were the chippings flying everywhere, children falling on them and having to get stitches. It’s unprecedented the amount of good work that’s been done on the county roads,” Cllr Nolan added.

Record Numbers of Cars on the Road

The total number of licensed (taxed) vehicles at 31st December 2006 was 2,296,393, an increase of 157,713 or 7.37% on the 2005 figure.

The huge increase in vehicle numbers in recent years is a clear indication of the economic prosperity of recent times. The 11% increase in goods vehicle suggests a continued increase in economic activity, while the extra private cars indicates greater disposable income. It also reflects the fact that there is a greater number of people at work and therefore a greater need for people to use the private car.

However increased car usage presents its own difficulties, and from the motorists point of view, traffic congestion is the obvious one, particularly around our major urban centres.

Increased car usage has also resulted in a concomitant increase in greenhouse gas emissions, as outlined by the EPA in its recent report.

End of Stage Payments in Housing Estates

Following negotiations with the Irish Home Builders Association and officials of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, it has been agreed that the practice will not apply to such houses where contracts are entered into after the 30th of June of this year. The Association is also advising its members that phasing out of the practice should begin immediately.

The Minister said: "Stage payments were a particular issue in the Cork area and everyone is aware of examples over the years where people were left high and dry when construction companies when bust. Thankfully this will now come to an end."

Stage payments require the purchaser in a new housing development to make payments to the builder at a number of set intervals or stages in line with progress of the building. The practice has been common in Cork and some other areas of the country. It will no longer apply after June of this year.

One of the problems with the stage payments system was that purchasers often found themselves making payments before they were in a position to live in their new houses. This was particularly problematic in cases where buyers had to pay rental costs at the same time. The system could also place an undue share of risk on buyers. "On balance, stage payments do not seem to be in buyers' interests generally and they are not essential or appropriate in estate developments since the market works perfectly well without them in most parts of the country," the Minister said.

The change will come into operation by way of a new code of practice, operated by the Irish Home Builders Association, under the auspices of the Construction Industry Federation. Although the code of practice will be a voluntary one it will apply to approximately 80% of home builders. There will be a complaints procedure regarding members who break the code.

Paying tribute to the positive approach of the Irish Home Builders Association, the Minister said that "While legislation being developed by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to regulate property sale is both welcome and necessary, I am glad that my Department could facilitate improvements where possible through our ongoing engagement with the industry."

The Minister emphasised that stage payments can continue to apply in the case of one-off housing by agreement between the buyer and the developer. "I am aware that for one-off or specially commissioned houses, stage payments can be appropriate or even necessary in many cases," the Minister said. The new code of practice will not affect such cases.

Wind farms in Wicklow

I had an email from a woman in Arklow, County Wicklow asking where someone could find the June 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines as she was nterested in seeing how Wicklow Council Council planners had assessed the Arklow Bank windfarm. I told her to look at the files in the Council office in Wicklow Town, but also to have a look at the
the Wind Energy Development Guidelines online at:$FILE/Wind%20Energy.pdf

OPW concerned at plan for Battle of Boyne hotel

The Office of Public Works has sent a strongly worded letter to planners in Co Louth outlining concerns about an application to build the country's first eco-friendly hotel on part of the site of the 1690 Battle of the Boyne at Tullyallen.
Eugene Keane of the heritage services division said the application was "premature" and the 23- bedroom four-star hotel is proposed for "a significant historic part of the site of the Battle of the Boyne, the most important battle site in Ireland".
It is also adjacent to where King William was wounded by a cannon shot and is opposite the 18th century Obelisk Bridge erected to mark the historic event.
The application by businessman Gavin Collins proposed using a wood-pellet heating system, solar panels and recycling of grey water and said the hotel was designed to be eco-friendly and also to "become part of the interactive heritage facilities in the area".
It proposed what is described in the planning application as "a prime viewing platform over the Battle of the Boyne site".
The OPW is developing a visitor and exhibition centre, new walkways and a peace garden at the site. When it is completed in about two years, the Government will have spent €30 million on purchasing the 500-acre Oldbridge estates, house and works on it.
"Work is in progress on this significant heritage and tourism project which will attract an estimated 100,000 visitors annually and deliver benefits over a wide region in Louth and Meath," Mr Keane said. "The project is predicated on maintaining the high visual quality of the historic landscape".
The OPW said the planning application was premature "in the absence of a detailed planning strategy for this highly sensitive area and may establish an undesirable precedent".
Elaine Keogh
© 2007 The Irish Times

Louth planning rules 'victimising homeowners'

Planning requirements in Co Louth are "victimising homeowners and encouraging rentals", according to a local councillor who has persuaded his colleagues to vote for a review of strict planning criteria applying in the area.
Cllr Terry Brennan (FG) won the support of county councillors to carry out an interim review of the county development plan in relation to the strict criteria on applying to build one-off rural houses.
At the moment the plan states a housing need is established where "the applicant does not currently own a house or has not owned a house within the previous five years or where his/her current accommodation, as accepted by the Planning Authority, is insufficient to meet his/her accommodation needs".
Cllr Brennan said: "Our plan penalises home owners and discourages people from getting on the property ladder. I don't want a carte blanche here but I believe that local people are being victimised."
Last week 13 such planning permission applications were refused. "People are being forced to sell their own homes and rent another property" to meet the criteria, he said.
The guidelines were adopted with the plan last July and it dictates development in the county up to 2009. The official review of the plan is due to begin at the end of this year and usually takes up to two years to complete.
"Quite often the problem is the different interpretation by different planners of what an applicant's needs are, and I want this clarified so we all sing off the same hymn sheet," he said. "I also want people to be able to state what their own needs are."
The council's director of services and planning Rose Kenny advised that the issue was one interpretation of the guidelines and could be resolved.
Elaine Keogh
© 2007 The Irish Times

Runway extension for Sligo airport

AN airport which was at the centre of a serious flight safety incident is to receive €8.5m to extend its runway.
Sligo Airport is one of six regional airports to benefit from €86m capital grants package. It will use the funding to extend its runway to meet safety and aviation requirements.
In 2002, a Euro Celtic plane overshot the airport's runway on landing and ended up with its nose in the sea. None of the 36 passengers, which included the members of the Dublin band Aslan, was injured.
Local shellfish farmers have raised concerns about the plan to extend the runway by building a platform over mudflats. But the airport has said that with the Atlantic Ocean close to the west end of the runway and the waters of Sligo harbour near the east end, there was no affordable alternative.
Under the Transport 21 plan funding, Ireland West airport in Knock will receive €27m. Kerry Airport will receive €17.7m to provide better terminal facilities to cope with the increase in tourist numbers, while Waterford, Galway and Donegal airports will receive €22.3m.
Michael Brennan
© Irish Independent

€86m in capital grants for Ireland's six regional airports

KNOCK was the big winner yesterday when the Government announced €86m in capital grants for Ireland's six regional airports.
Ireland West Airport (IWA) at Knock received €27m, which will be spent on a new aircraft parking area and an extension to the existing terminal building.
Liam Scollan, the IWA managing director, welcomed the news.
He said: "This, together with the relocation of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs here, the development of the Western Road and Rail Corridor, and the new impetus to driving tourism growth in the region forms part of an overall picture of increased confidence to invest in the growing success of the West of Ireland."
Waterford Airport was the next big winner yesterday. It received €22.3m, including €13m for a runway extension and other improvements.
Kerry Airport will receive almost €17.7m, including €13.1m for the development of the terminal to facilitate more short-haul traffic.
Sligo airport is to get €8.5m, which will be used to improve runway safety. Galway Airport was allocated €6.3m, including €3.5m which will be spent on development works. Donegal Airport will get €3.8m.
Tom McEnaney
Irish Independent

€1bn plan to transform public transport in Galway city - On track?

A €1bn plan to transform public transport in Galway city was at the centre of a row yesterday.
No sooner had Transport Minister Martin Cullen and CIE Chairman, Dr John Lynch (pictured) spoken in glowing terms about the plan at a function in Galway, than proceedings broke up in disarray. Local heritage group, Cairde na Gaillimhe and Labour Party President Michael D Higgins both slammed the project.
All of those at the top table refused to answer questions or enter into debate about the use of the hugely valuable city centre site at the heart of the transport plan. The 14-acre Ceannt station landbank is the last available development site in the city centre.
Brian McDonald
© Irish Independent

Clare County Council approves its seventh wind farm

Clare County Council has approved the seventh wind farm in the county despite some local opposition.
This follows German company Pro Ventum securing planning permission for a €10 million six-turbine wind farm at Tullabrack near Kilrush.
It is the second wind farm that the company has secured permission for in the west Clare area and the previous proposal also faced opposition.
Currently there are two wind farms operational in the county - the Pro Ventum wind farm at Monmore and the second 11-turbine wind farm near Connolly in mid-Clare.
The Pro Ventum application was first lodged four years ago and the application was only reactivated recently when the company lodged further information.
The Monmore Action Group opposed the plan.
However, the council granted planning permission having regard to the national policy in relation to the development of sustainable energy resources and the provision of wind energy guidelines.
The council also granted planning because of the general suitability of the site for a wind-powered energy generating facility, the wind energy resources available and the nature of the landscape in the area, including a nearby wind farm and a suitable ESB sub-station.
The council also ruled that the proposed development would not seriously injure the visual amenities or landscape, interfere with views or injure the amenities of residential properties in the vicinity, or be prejudicial to public health.The council has prohibited wind farms in large tracts of Clare.
© The Irish Times

All change for Shell in the public relations stakes

Current Account: SHELL E&P Ireland is not known to be shy when it comes to the press - particularly since its extensive shake-up of public relations over a year ago after the 94-day jailing of the Rossport Five. However, one detected a slight coyness within the company this week about the future of its "external communications support".
Up to now this combination of public relations and backroom lobbying has been provided for the troubled Corrib gas project by lobbyists Financial Dynamics (FD), headed by Paul MacSharry, and Powerscourt Media, co-founded by Irish journalist Rory Godson. However, FD's three-year contract is up, and Shell confirmed to Current Account that the PR company had asked "not to be considered" for any new consultancy arrangement.
Shell says it is "still in the process" of appointing an alternative, but the successor is believed to be Q4 Public Relations, run by former FF press handlers Jackie Gallagher
(ex-Irish Times and Bertie Ahern's advisor from 1994 to 1998), Martin Mackin, along with Angie Kinnane, formerly of FD, and Gerry O'Sullivan, Eircom's former director of corporate affairs.
With some State consents still to be secured for aspects of the project, it would appear Shell is still banking on FF in power after the general election.
© Irish Independent

Objections lodged over Corrib gas licence ruling

Shell and its Corrib gas partners and An Taisce are among 12 objectors to the Environmental Protection Agency's preliminary licensing approval for the Corrib gas refinery in north Mayo.
The 12 objections include at least four requests for an oral hearing into the preliminary decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency has at least four months, and perhaps longer, to rule on the hearing applications before making a final decision on the licence.
The IPPC licence is one of a series of procedures handled by various different State agencies in relation to the €900 million project. It deals with emissions and the environmental management of the facility.
The EPA's preliminary approval, issued a month ago, stated it is "satisfied that emissions from the refinery, when operated in accordance with the conditions of the proposed licence, will not adversely affect human health or the environment and will meet all relevant national and EU standards".
However, Shell is objecting to the wording in eight of some 85 conditions attached to the proposed licence, and it proposes changes.
An Taisce's objection recommends that the EPA board refuse a final licence for seven reasons, including the failure of the Bellanaboy location to comply with international codes of practice because of its proximity to a major water catchment - Carrowmore lake, which supplies 10,000 people.
An Taisce quotes the Scottish EPA as agreeing that the terminal should not be located within a drinking water catchment. The Scottish EPA has "considerable experience in licensing such facilities", it says.
An Taisce also says that Bellanaboy's inland location exposes connecting production pipelines to "terrorist attack", and it notes that the flaring of gas in Nigeria and other regions by Shell is "contributing significantly to global warming".
Objections have been lodged by the Erris Inshore Fishermen's Association, local parish priest Fr Michael Nallen, and a number of residents in the Erris area - with four coming from the Shell to Sea network. Dr Mark Garavan, Shell to Sea spokesman and Independent candidate in the forthcoming Seanad elections, contrasted comments made yesterday by Minister for Justice Michael McDowell in relation to the Poolbeg incinerator in Dublin with his stance on the Corrib gas field.
"Minister McDowell has hailed the possible decision not to proceed with the proposed Poolbeg incinerator as a 'victory for local democracy'," said Dr Garavan.
"If this is so, why do the Minister and the Government not acknowledge the same right of local democracy to the threatened communities of Bellanaboy and Rossport in north Mayo?"
Lorna Siggins
© 2007 The Irish Times

The proposed site for an incinerator at Poolbeg

A DELEGATION from the European Commission is to travel to Dublin next month to inspect the proposed site for an incinerator at Poolbeg.
In addition, Dublin City Council have been ordered by An Bord Pleanála to publish key information which was not given by the council at the time of the original advertisement.
According to Damien Cassidy of the Ringsend Environment Group, representatives of the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament are to examine the chosen site and ask why it was chosen when it is so near to people’s houses.
They will also look for details of the consultation process which the council engaged in.
News of the delegation’s visit comes as the council prepares to re-advertise key details of the proposal which Dublin City Council has not made available before.
Further information was submitted to the council in November 2006 and also earlier this month.
On February 15, An Bord Pleanála wrote to the council telling the local authority it must republish adverts in the national media outlining that it has submitted more information on the project.
Among the areas that information covers is the likely effects on the environment of the proposed development and the ‘Dublin Waste to Energy Project Major Accident Hazard Assessment’ which was revised as late as this month.
The board also told the local authority all that information must be made available to the public and that they must be given the opportunity to make submissions.
Mr Cassidy said: “There was a public consultation process, but there was no consultation.
“Staff from the city council and foreign engineers brought by them gave their version of how it would be great.
“We asked for the other side of the story to be given. That was never done.”
Dublin City Council issued a statement on Wednesday saying the Poolbeg project was still on track despite claims from by Tánaiste Michael McDowell that it was to be abandoned.
It said last night it would not issue any further comment.
During a special Dáil discussion on the proposed incinerator in Poolbeg last night, Áine Kerr writes that Labour’s Ruairi Quinn said it would be the “height of irresponsibility” if the Environment Minister Dick Roche allowed the project to proceed when it was “never going to fly”.
Mr Quinn queried if there had been a breach in confidentiality when the Justice Minister announced that plans for the incinerator had collapsed.
Stephen Rogers
© Irish Examiner

Thursday 22 February 2007

Architectural Conservation Areas

I had a call this morning asking what an Architectural Conservation Area is - they have found their house to be located in one after a recent plan review. The answer is simply

Architectural Conservation Areas aim to protect the special character of places, areas, groups of structures or townscapes that:

a. have special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest or value, or

b. that contributes to the appreciation of protected structures, by the introduction of Architectural Conservation Areas.

The purpose of an Architectural Conservation Area designation is to protect and enhance the special character of the A.C.A and to ensure that all proposed developments are carried out in a manner sympathetic to the special character of the area.

The basis for ACAs is set out in the Planning and Development Act 2000 and most recent Development Plans now contain one or more ACAs.

Wednesday 21 February 2007

Greenhouse emissions could be reduced through planning and urban design

Given recent attention on emissions, I was wondering how often we think, as planners, of how planning and urban design could reduce emissions.

In fact, have you ever though about how greenhouse emissions could be reduced through planning and urban design? Here’s a few things planning authorities could do.

Three types of changes to traditional urban form could reduce greenhouse gas emissions: increasing densities on the fringe, general urban consolidation within existing urban areas, and more intensive mixed use local activity centres close to public transport nodes. Studies indicate the potential for reductions in greenhouse emissions with higher densities, more mixed use and energy efficient dwelling design. There are many opportunities for reducing greenhouse emissions in the urban planning stage, through considering:

• integration with transport modes and systems
• location
• infrastructure
• site design
• building design
• choice of appliances and fittings

These can be targeted via:

• identifying sites suitable for higher density development (greenfields or urban consolidation) with particular attention to access to public transport;
• developing codes, guidelines and performance standards to improve the treatment of energy and transport issues, including explicit reference to the greenhouse-efficiency of urban form, building design and building operation;
• including greenhouse issues when negotiating site and building requirements.

Note: Urban consolidation is policy in Ireland now, and much medium density development is taking place close to public transport.

Other actions to reduce greenhouse emissions related to urban form and development.

Planning authorities can take a range of other actions to reduce greenhouse emissions related to urban form and development. For example, they can:

• support more mixed-use energy-efficient public transport-oriented development around nodes within established cities and in new development areas;
• use infill development on sites close to public transport;
• limit car parking allocations for medium density development;
• be more proactive in regulatory and educational measures; and
• develop new mixed-use higher-density zones and apply mandatory density and energy efficiency criteria.

There are many opportunities for local councils to use the planning process to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is important as few councils have included specific reference to energy efficiency or greenhouse considerations in their policies and planning schemes for development in their areas. Irish designs and building practices have so far achieved only poor energy efficiency.

A major reason has been that planning permission for land development is reactive: designs are routinely drawn up by the development company, and then councils formally ratify these, having exerted little influence on their form.

Councils will need to be much more proactive and seek to set agendas rather than just provide an approvals mechanism for decisions essentially made before the process begins.

Planning authorities have enough power under planning and building legislation to develop design parameters which could be marketed strongly and used as the basis for voluntary agreements with developers or included in various ways in statutory approvals processes. This is a particularly powerful tool at the rezoning stage, but could also be used with effect in the planning permission-issuing process.

Tuesday 20 February 2007

Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them, by Philippe Legrain,

I read this book last week. It's worth a read. Here's a review:

There are two virtual certainties about Ireland in 2007. The first is that immigration will continue to have a profoundly transforming effect on our society.

The second is that, during the general election campaign, no leading politician will want to talk about it.

This is a depressing state of affairs, but we really only have ourselves to blame. The issue of immigration has been hijacked by extremists from both sides: those who want an open-door policy and those who don’t want to let anyone in at all. In this stormy climate of insufferable piety and poisonous xenophobia, we desperately need voices of moderation and good sense to speak up.

Financial journalist Philippe Legrain isn’t exactly a moderate, but his new book does contain a lot of good sense. It is a straightforward argument for a vast increase in the free movement of people, using first-hand reportage and detailed analysis to make his case.

Along the way, he demolishes some of the more transparent anti-immigration myths, scorns the ineffective border policies of the US and Europe and insists that national identities are far more fluid than cultural conservatives would like to admit.

Legrain’s book is full of striking information and thought-provoking statistics, and even those already well-versed in the subject will learn a lot from it. But it is, in the end, a polemic and, like most polemics, it is ultimately undermined by its blatant lack of balance.

Legrain is, at heart, a free marketeer (his previous book was an equally passionate argument for globalisation),and his argument for mass migration is primarily an economic one. He contends that if we want to increase global trade in goods and services, as most people do, it is nonsense to place restrictions on the people who are actually providing those goods and services.

The obvious answer to this, in a phrase that is becoming increasingly popular with the Irish left, is that we live in a society rather than an economy.

The French exchequer has presumably benefited just as much from foreign workers as the Irish one has, but that isn’t much consolation when ethnic tensions lead to riots on the streets of Paris.

If countries were just giant pieces of land with no national characteristics, as Legrain sometimes appears to believe, then these problems simply wouldn’t exist.

The fundamental difficulty, which this book regrettably glosses over, is that a clear majority of people feel privately uncomfortable about the rapid pace of modern immigration and are resentful when told that their worries amount to little more than covert racism.

When Labour leader Pat Rabbitte pointed out the obvious fact that Irish workers might have some competition on their hands from an influx of Polish immigrants, two things happened immediately: he was accused of scaremongering by media commentators and his party’s poll ratings sharply increased.

Wherever you think the blame lies, this gap between official policy and public opinion has to be bridged.

Legrain is at his best when describing the enormous benefits immigrants can bring to society, as long as they are treated with respect and allowed to make full use of their talents.

As an Englishman with a French name, he is well placed to argue that London would be a much less exciting and prosperous place without its ethnic diversity. But when it comes to thornier issues such as speaking a common language, respect for heritage and the effects of multiculturalism on social cohesion, he too often retreats into glib platitudes and meaningless waffle.

For all its faults, Legrain’s book is a vigorous and stimulating contribution to one of the most important debates of our time. It’s just a shame that so few of our leaders show any interest in having it.

Andrew Lynch
The Sunday Business Post

Cullen confirms €600m buyout of West-Link

The Irish Times tells us that the Government has agreed to buy out the tolled West-Link bridge on the M50 motorway at an estimated cost of €600 million, Minister for Transport Martin Cullen has confirmed.

Mr Cullen confirmed the proposal had been agreed at this morning's Cabinet meeting.

Following a year of discussions with the toll bridge operator National Toll Roads (NTR), the Government agreed to pay the company €50 million a year, plus inflation, for each of the years 2008-2020.

There will be no "golden handshake" for the toll operator, which signed the contract for the West-Link in 1987, Mr Cullen insisted.

Mr Cullen said that by buying out the West-Link bridge - which is used by 100,000 vehicles a day - the State and the travelling public, rather than NTR, would be the direct beneficiary of the tolls. The bridge will revert to the State from mid-2008.

"This is being done in order to develop and manage the M50 and to provide the best possible service to motorists," Mr Cullen said.

"The buyout will allow the removal of the toll plaza on the West-Link and its replacement by a barrier free tolling arrangement along the same stretch of motorway in 2008. This will coincide with the completion of the M50 upgrade on the section between the Ballymount and N4 interchanges."

Mr Cullen said all of these measures, along with improvements in Luas, bus and Dart services, would help resolve the issue of congestion on the M50.

"The NRA will be enabled to introduce other measures at the toll point to encourage better use of the M50 at off peak times, which will help address the problems of congestion on the M50," he said.

"These developments together with the recent award by the NRA of a contract for the development of the new barrier free tolling system, represents significant progress towards the upgrading of the M50."

"Clearly the interchanges are a very significant issue," he said.

He had always made clear that the full upgrade of the M50, currently underway, in conjunction with barrier-free tolling, was the "key element" in reducing congestion.

The Minister will shortly outline how the barrier-free toll will work, including penalties for motorists who seek to evade the charges.

Revenue from the tolls will be used to fund the annual payments to NTR.

A number of issues remain outstanding in relation to the contract, Mr Cullen said. However, he said these did not include the question of giving NTR tax indemnity on the annual payments and he did not expect they would delay the conclusion of the agreement.

Mr Cullen said indications are that the introduction of restrictions on HGVs entering Dublin city since yesterday was going well, despite some difficulties and increased delays on the M50 yesterday. He attributed some of the delays to crashes and incidents on the motorway.

Group campaigns to ‘welcome back’ white-tailed sea eagles in south-west

THE tourism industry, community organisations and conservationists came out strongly, at the weekend, in support of a controversial plan to reintroduce the white-tailed sea eagle to the south-west.
They have formed the Kerry White-tailed Eagle Support Group, whose chairman, Jerry O’Grady, said the plan was “‘’warmly welcomed’’ by a large cross-section of people, despite some negative publicity.
He said the reintroduction of the eagle would bring social and economic benefits to the region.
“Together with our red deer herd and other indigenous species of flora and fauna, the return of the white-tailed eagle to our skies will add enormously to our image of a beautiful and green place, capable of supporting thriving flora and fauna side by side with the local population and visitors,’’ he added.
However, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is opposing the plan, claiming that the eagles could kill lambs and lead to the designation of more land for conservation purposes.
The project is being carried out by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and is fully backed by Environment Minister Dick Roche. But, with an election approaching, farmer pressure is being applied to drop the plan, which envisages 75 young eagles being released in Killarney National Park over a five-year period.
Some farmers have also threatened to shoot, or poison, the birds, which became extinct in Kerry a century ago.
Mr O’Grady described the project as the “‘’most exciting wildlife reintroduction programme ever undertaken in Ireland.’’
The group plans to collect thousands of signatures in support of the project.
The group rejected IFA claims that the eagles would kill lambs, saying there was no evidence of interference with sheep in Donegal, where the golden eagle has been introduced, or in Scandinavian countries.
The group claims many more lambs would die because of poor husbandry, cliff falls and fox attacks.
Donal Hickey
© Irish Examiner

Farmers shoot down sea eagle proposals

PLANS to introduce the white-tailed sea eagle to Killarney National Park and the south west have run into problems - threats to kill the birds.
The proposal could even become an election issue.
An ad hoc group of tourism, business groups and environmentalists lent support to the idea, claiming there is broad community support.
The introduction of the eagles was to get under way this summer under the direction of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and non-governmental organisation the Golden Eagle Trust. But farmers have overwhelmingly rejected the idea.
Farmers in west Cork and Kerry told a special IFA meeting in Killarney they feared disease, further designations sterilising their lands and the taking of live lambs by the giant eagles, the fourth largest bird of prey in the world.
The farmers have also asked why the sea eagle is being introduced so far inland. The meeting decided to make opposition to the eagle an election issue and the IFA has already begun to lobby general election candidates.
In a surprise move, their concerns have been largely backed by the region's fishery board, the South-Western Regional Fisheries Board. The eagle is being introduced at a time when there are severe quota restrictions to conserve and increase salmon and sea trout numbers, members of the fisheries board point out.
Yesterday the new support group said the sea eagle was "the most exciting wildlife reintroduction programme ever undertaken" in this country.
Anne Lucey
© Irish Independent

Spurious planning appeals?

SPURIOUS objections to legitimate planning applications are being lodged in a bid to extort money from developers, according to Environment Minister Dick Roche.
However, a spokesperson for the Department of the Environment was unable to give examples of dubious challenges, citing "anecdotal evidence" from An Bord Pleanala.
The Construction Industry Federation said it had no evidence of bogus objections. One industry source said: "It is one of those urban tales you hear."
Dozens of spurious objections are lodged with An Bord Pleanala every year.
Hairdressers objecting to other hairdressers looking to open a new salon, and residents claiming that people seeking permission to build a home would be bad neighbours are among the "vexatious" complaints received.
Environment Minister Dick Roche says he is planning a crack-down on such claims.
And he said that some appeals were more sinister. "People are using planning objections to extort money from neighbours," he said.
The most recent An Bord Pleanala figures show that dozens of spurious appeals are dismissed every year because they have no basis in planning.
In 2005, 34 were dismissed while in 2004 48 appeals were declared to be invalid. The total dismissed equates to about 1pc of all appeals received every year.
A spokesman for the board said it had powers under the Planning and Development Act 2000, to dismiss any appeal it considered "vexatious, frivolous or without substance or foundation".
It can also dismiss an appeal where it considers that the appeal has been made with the intention of obtaining money.
Paul Melia
© Irish Independent

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

Noise level survey for Cork Ring Road

A NOISE survey is to be carried out along Cork’s main ring road to see if traffic noise levels are within EU limits.
The South Ring Road has passed a key traffic volume marker and will be included in a National Roads Authority noise mapping exercise being carried out on some of the country’s busiest main roads.
It is due for completion in June and will recommend methods of tackling areas where noise levels are above the permitted levels introduced by the EU in April.
The completed survey will be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency by July 2008 before being forwarded to the EU Commission.
Fianna Fáil TD John Dennehy welcomed the survey.
“The EU regulations are a welcome breakthrough in the battle between local residents and public representatives on one hand and road design personnel and engineers on the other,” he said.
“There is a need for balance and residents along this road have suffered because that balance has not been achieved.”
Eoin English
© Irish Examiner

A SLEEK new streetcar was unveiled by Bus Eireann yesterday

The 12-metre long 'bus tram', which runs on an electric/bio-fuel hybrid engine, is to be introduced to cities across the country in the coming months.
Bus Eireann unveiled the new BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system in Waterford where the company hopes to pilot the new streetcar.
Bus Eireann plans to overhaul the service in the Waterford area over the next two years.
Dr John Lynch, chairman of CIE, said that the new streetcars would run "at one-tenth of the cost of traditional tram and present light rail".
He added: "We would envisage trying out at least one of these bus trams on the streets of Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford in the coming year."
He said the bus trams, which are manufactured by Wrights in Ballymena, Co Antrim, cost just €200,000 each to put on the road.
"The BRT system can be implemented at a fraction of the infrastructure cost of the LUAS or other traditional tram alternatives," said Mr Lynch.
The CIE chairman also spoke of the company's plans to replace the entire local fleet of buses serving Waterford city and the introduction of 35 new buses by 2009.
Environment Minister Martin Cullen, a Waterford TD, gave assurances to the company that their plans would be factored in under the Transport 21 initiative.
"The attractiveness of Bus Rapid Transit lies in its potential to deliver a very high frequency service at a fraction of the cost of designing, building and maintaining a full-scale tram system," said Mr Cullen.
"These streetcars can operate on ordinary road space and are capable of running on alternative and more environmentally friendly fuels," he said
Mr Cullen stated that the streetcars fall in line with work currently being carried out as part of a new 'Government taskforce strategy on climate change' to be launched before Easter.
"A sustainable transport action plan will be prepared as part of this overall strategy," he said. "It will address a range of issues and forecast how the transport sector will significantly contribute to reductions in carbon emissions by 2020.
"The public transport sector will be expected to show strong leadership in this regard and I am prepared to support proposals to move the fleet to a more sustainable basis as speedily as it is feasible," he said.
CIE are currently looking at government proposals to move all Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus vehicles to a 5pc bio-diesel blend and to plan to achieve a 30pc bio-diesel blend in all new buses.
Yesterday's launch also heard from John Clancy, chief architect with CIE, who unveiled plans for a €10m redevelopment of Waterford's main railway station.
The plans, which have been lodged with the local authority, allow for a 340-space multi-storey carpark on the existing Plunkett station site and a new exit on to the N9 road.
Dara deFaoite
© Irish Independent

O'Brien stables will close if waste plant goes ahead

This from Treacy Hogan in the Irish Indo':

'Horrified' Ballydoyle trainer readies his big guns for battle
AIDAN O'Brien's world famous Ballydoyle horse stables could close if plans for a controversial animal-waste plant next door get the green light.
The Irish Independent has learned that the racehorse trainer believes he could not continue with the training operation, recognised as Europe's leading such facility.
In an exclusive interview, his wife Anne-Marie O'Brien said yesterday: "Ballydoyle could cease to be a racing stables."
The proposal to build a plant capable of processing 250,000 tonnes of animal waste containing potentially BSE-infected material has ignited a battle near Rosegreen, Co Tipperary.
South Tipperary County Council received the planning application last week and will make a decision after the March 2 objection deadline.
It is certain the decision will be appealed one way or the other to An Bord Pleanala.
It's a battle of the big guns: millionaire John Magnier's Coolmore Stud and Aidan O'Brien's adjoining stables at Ballydoyle, against a consortium which includes a subsidiary of National Toll Roads, the owners of the Westlink toll bridge, and Dawn Meats.
Both sides have engaged the services of two of the biggest public relations companies in the country, Murray Consultants, acting for Coolmore and Ballydoyle, and Drury Communications, for the plant consortium.
At the centre of the consortium is the Ronan family, which operated the National Byproducts rendering plant on the site at Castleblake for 40 years and where the new waste plant is planned.
Local people complained for years about the devastating effect of the smells from the rendering plant on their lives, until it closed down.
National Byproducts was named in an annual report by the Environmental Protection Agency as the plant provoking the third highest number of complaints in the country, mainly related to smells.
The consortium, called Green Organics Energy (GOE), has just applied to South Tipperary Co Council for permission to build the biggest animal waste plant in the country. They want to turn animal carcases from all over the country into biofuel and fertiliser.
A plan to build an incinerator on the site was rejected two years ago.
On that occasion, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who had close links with Aidan O'Brien, said he would sever connections with the area if the incinerator went ahead and sent a letter of support to Coolmore in their battle.
The O'Briens are to join John Magnier's Coolmore in lodging formal objections in the next fortnight.
Anne-Marie O'Brien said yesterday the location of the plant in a rural Golden Vale area was "completely wrong".
Ballydoyle was competing on a world stage and, according to its environmental impact report, the plant would be emitting chemicals that could have a harmful effect on their horses.
"The biggest single factor in racehorses not doing well is respiratory problems. We even have air-filtration systems in every stable. Horses are very sensitive to any change in air quality," she added.
"This plant will be emitting sulphur dioxide and other nitrous substances. It is unthinkable. Horses would not be able to compete.
"Ballydoyle could cease to be a racing stable.
"It is a world-class facility, an elite athletic training facility, and they are proposing to build the largest waste facility in the country beside it."
Mrs O'Brien complained that, among the materials which would be brought to the plant by road, would be specified risk material (SRM) from potentially BSE-infected cattle. Her husband Aidan was "totally horrified" at the prospect of having such a facility beside Ballydoyle.
"Anybody who looks at this will know that it just should not go ahead," she said.
Marie-Therese Mulcahy, a trainee solicitor whose family farm is only 500 metres from the proposed plant, is incensed at the prospect.
"The original plant closed down two to three years ago. It generated awful smells. We frequently couldn't go out or hang clothes on the line. I feel very strongly about having trucks bringing animal waste to a new plant."
Opponents have formed an action group, South Tipperary for Clean Industry, which also plans to lodge an objection with the council.
Leading environmental consultant Jack O'Sullivan claimed local people could not rely on the current air and water quality continuing if the plant went ahead. Because of the possibility of BSE material being included, there was always a risk of accidents.
GOE insists that the plant will be built to the highest international standards, on a site which has traditionally been used for industrial purposes, and use state-of-the art technology.
Their process was aimed at generating products and energy from products that were currently being incinerated.

Poolbeg incinerator - consultation to re-open

This from Olivia Kelly at The Irish Times:

The proposed development of a municipal waste incinerator at Poolbeg, Dublin, has received a setback following an order from Bord Pleanála to Dublin City Council to reopen public consultation on aspects of the plan.
It a letter to the council dated February 15th, the planning board has directed that the council must make available to the public new information on the likely impact on the environment of the development and its consequences for "proper planning and sustainable development" in the area.
The board makes particular reference to a document entitled Dublin Waste to Energy Project Major Accident Hazard Assessment which was not submitted with the council's original planning application.
This document was received by Bord Pleanála last September and then revised by the council and resubmitted to the board less than two weeks ago.
The council must also publish queries it received from the Health and Safety Authority and the responses it made to those queries.
The council originally applied for planning permission for the incinerator, which will burn 600,000 tonnes of waste annually, last July. More than 2,000
objections to the council's application were received by Bord Pleanála last October.
Objections to the facility were made by several environmental groups and local residents, including the Tánaiste Michael McDowell.
The council has been ordered to publish notices in at least one national newspaper stating the new information is now available for public consultation.
The new public consultation period must be a minimum of three weeks, the board says, during which time the public will have an opportunity to make further observations or submissions to the board.
The council said yesterday that it intended to make the information available to the public from next week, and would make no comment on the material until that time. The new requirements of the board would not affect its plans for the incinerator or its relationships with the chosen developer of the plant, Danish company Elsam.
An Bord Pleanála had intended to make an announcement in relation to the application, most likely the date for an oral hearing, this month. However, this has been delayed until April at the earliest.

Monday 19 February 2007

Hauliers Predict Chaos On M50 Following HGV City Ban

So were they right? Or was it scaremongering? I imagine life was that little bit more pleasant in the city today and alot more unpleasant on the M50!

The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) today ( Monday the 19th of February) predicted widespread traffic chaos on the M50 following the introduction of Dublin City Council’s HGV Management Strategy that came into operation today. This new strategy prohibits 5 axle vehicles from travelling within a cordon area of the city from 07.00-19.00hrs Monday to Sunday.

The IRHA has had lengthy discussions with DCC officials and believes that its elected councillors are “steamrolling” in this crude and unscientific strategy without any professional advice taken. The IRHA believe that this ban will lead to widespread difficulty across the city and is very premature in advance of the M50 being upgraded and barrier free tolling being introduced on the Westlink.

Jimmy Quinn, spokesperson for the IRHA said: “we are very committed to a developing a common sense solution to the DCC HGV strategy, but the mindset of Dublin City Councillors to introduce this change now will lead to chronic traffic congestion on the M50, unless a sensible solution outcome prevails involving the association and stakeholders.”

The IRHA has hosted meetings with groups that share similar concerns about the introduction of this HGV ban. The groups include IBEC, fruit importers, Small Firms Association, shipping lines and the Dublin Port Company.

Sunday 18 February 2007

Growth: The Celtic Cancer, Why the global economy damages our health and society

I was asked by a student recently about a reference for the negatives of growth. I gave her the following reference: "Growth: The Celtic Cancer, Why the global economy damages our health and society." Not everyone will agree with it, but the fact that it's available free online and provides useful material, makes it a valuable source for students.

The theme is the elimination of the human cost of economic growth and globalisation. In the opening article, Dr. Elizabeth Cullen demonstrates comprehensively how great this cost has been. She cites survey after survey to show how the stresses generated by Ireland's recent, rapid economic growth damaged its people's health and the strength of their communities.

"Although studies around the world had clearly shown that ill-health and certain crimes increase if the gap between rich and poor is allowed to widen, the Irish government deliberately increased the width of the gap by its tax policies in order to improve competitiveness" Dr. Cullen says. "In other words, they sacrificed the health of the people to improve the health of the economy. I was shocked."

Among the other 18 articles and 15 book reviews is the text of Dr. David Fleming's 2001 Feasta lecture on how we should respond to the threat that a catastrophic economic breakdown will occur in the next few years when the world's oil and gas production begins to fall as the reserves are used up. Stan Thekaekara's 2002 Feasta lecture is also there. In it, he describes how his thinking has been profoundly influenced by that of the tribal people among whom he works. "The economies of indigenous people are based on a concept of no ownership," he says. "How can you 'own' the land, the water, the forests, the birds, the animals?"