Monday 30 April 2007

Parked plans may be back on agenda for Van

THEY say that high walls make good neighbours. Except, in the case of Van Morrison and Eddie Irvine it didn't work.
Van the Man, particularly, felt the wrath of wealthy neighbour Alphonsus O'Mara who went all the way to the Supreme Court in 2003 - and won - in his bid to stop the singer widening the shared driveway between their homes, Kilross and Monte Alverno, in expensive Dalkey, Co Dublin.
One of the hearings heard that racing driver Eddie Irvine and Phons had had their run-ins too. Eddie bailed out of Kilross Cottage, which he transformed in late 2004 from a two-bedroom cottage into a gigantic home, shelling out €5m or so in the process.
In a letter between the architects for the two warring parties, Phons complained that callers to Van's house were using Phons's bell, that he was an answering service for The Man and that he just wanted to be left in peace. So, no love lost there then.
Van's missus, Michelle Rocca, complained that the safety of her children was at risk on the driveway. And in an earlier High Court judgment, Mr Justice Kelly said: "This case attests to the fact that the payment of a substantial price for a good house gives no guarantee of good neighbours."
All this is by way of preamble. Phons has just put Monte Alverno on the market which will probably make tonight a marvellous night for a moondance for Van. The house has six bedrooms, stands on 1.2 acres and is priced at €25m.
Not bad considering he bought it from socialite Renata Coleman in 1992 for about €1.3m. Time to lob in that new planning permission, Van.
Kevin Murphy
© Sunday Independent

Bord Pleanala slammed for Boyle hotel delay

THE repeated deferral by An Bord Pleanala of a decision on plans for a luxury hotel in Boyle has angered politicians and business owners in the Co Roscommon town. Plans for a 25m, 120-bed hotel in the townland of Doon were appealed to the board in August last year and a final decision has been deferred on 10 separate occasions since then. Now public representatives are calling for a change in legislation to force the authority to rule with greater alacrity on what are seen as important local planning issues.
Local Fianna Fail TD and general election candidate John Ellis describes the board's failure to rule on the issue as "astonishing" and "unacceptable". "This delay is unacceptable both from the promoters' and region's point of view and denies all concerned the benefits of what this project will deliver. I'm calling on An Bord Pleanala to notify a decision forthwith and give the Boyle region a muchneeded injection which has been denied for so long".
Roscommon county council last July granted planning permission in Castlerea to AOL Developments for the construction of the 120-bed spa hotel. Permission was also granted for a 134-space car park.
"Tourists from abroad, families holidaying in Ireland as well as business people expect modern facilities, " says Paul Wynne, president of Boyle chamber of commerce.
"Unless we are in a position to offer these facilities people will not travel to or stay in the area, except for the briefest of visits."
Referring to the Doon proposals and plans for a smaller hotel in the town centre he claims that "significant time and resources have already been put into the planned developments and, if that investment and potential is not to be lost, it is essential that the delays in the planning process be resolved quickly so that both developments can proceed as soon as possible."
Developer Raymond Devine is planning the demolition of three premises on Elphin Street to facilitate the construction of a 22-bed hotel.
Councillor Peter Flannery (Fianna Fail) told a recent meeting of Boyle town council that the wait was "just like waiting on death row. Saddam Hussein didn't have to wait as long for his punishment."
"There should be a time limit on the decision process, absolutely, " says Fine Gael councillor Jan Flanagan. "No one should have to wait this long for a decision on their development. I wonder myself if there is some degree of political interference at play here and if the board has been asked to hold the decision until after the general election. If the decision is to refuse permission it will have a negative impact on the local Fianna Fail candidate's chances. On the other hand, if it's positive, I wonder will it be announced just before the election when it would have a positive impact on his chances."
An Bord Pleanala says it has a statutory timeline of deciding appeals within 18 weeks and that last year it met this target in 52% of cases. "The board has the power to extend the period and it does so on the basis that the overriding consideration is the proper planning and development of the area rather than the timeline, " says board secretary, Diarmuid Collins. "This particular appeal is in the final stages of the appeals process. The inspector's report has been completed and the appeal is currently before the board."
© Sunday Tribune

‘Serious concerns’ about planning process

A PROMINENT Mayo businessman has voiced ‘serious concerns’ about the current planning system, which allows organisations like An Taisce to lodge objections and delay much-needed developments in rural areas.
Mr Noel Howley was this week granted permission for a new warehouse/delivery depot in Belgarrow, Foxford – nine months after Mayo County Council had initially granted permission.
“The new depot is badly needed because where we are currently located we could not expand. I was delighted when I got my planning permission from Mayo County Council but on the very last day they could object, An Taisce lodged an objection.
“I actually spoke to someone in An Taisce and he admitted to me that the only reason they lodged the objection was because the National Roads Authority did not. I’m stuck in the middle, I had to put my plans on hold for nearly a year,” said Mr Howley, who is Managing Director of Howley Distribution Services Ltd.
Mayo County Council had originally granted permission for the development but the decision was appealed by An Taisce to An Bord Pleanála. In their appeal, An Taisce criticised both Mayo County Council and the National Roads Authority, by stating that they are both failing to systemically implement policy which controls development along national roads where the maximum speed limit of 100km per hour applies. An Taisce also criticised the Council for being deficient in exercising its forward planning functions in zoning and designating development boundaries.
“I know people are entitled to voice their concerns in relation to planning and I have no problem with objections in general, as long as the objector is an
interested party. However, An Taisce had no real problem with my development, they just objected because they felt the NRA were not doing their job.
“Everyone was in agreement that the new site is a much better location than the old one and I’m glad common sense has prevailed in the end. But it can be very stressful, waiting and wondering if the development is going to be shot down at the very last minute.”
In their appeal, An Taisce also claimed that Mayo County Council had not evaluated this application properly, as all reports, with the exception of that of one Senior Executive Planner, had failed to address the relevant NRA or local authority national road development control policies.
Mayo County Council usually do not respond when an appeal is lodged with An Bord Pleanála but on this occasion they made a detailed response, with the County Manager Des Mahon listing six reasons why he chose not to accept the recommendation of his Senior Executive Planner.
The reasons were: the strategic nature of the proposed development to a significant geographic part of the county; an existing similar development adjoining the proposal; the proximity of the 60km/h speed limit sign; the suitability of the site for the proposed development; the recommendations/reports of the National Roads Authority, the Regional Design Office and the Roads Department of Mayo County Council, and the benefit to the town and the local community of the relocation of the existing business to a more appropriate site.
Mr Mahon agreed that the issue of a lack of local area plans is a valid one but he felt it was unfair to blame the Council due to a government embargo on public sector staff increases.
“Rather than wait two to three years for a Local Area Plan to be in place the proposal was assessed on its merits. The site is unlikely to be zoned anything other than commercial/industrial in any future plan given its location and adjoining uses,” said Mr Mahon.
Mr Howley also sent a response to the board, saying that the current location of Howley Distribution in Curradrish, Foxford was ‘totally unsuitable due to the continued growth of the business’.
Ms Emer Doyle was the planning inspector who adjudicated on the application and ultimately she felt the principle of the development was acceptable and was a ‘planning gain’ for the town of Foxford.
“I consider that the proposed development is acceptable having regard to the pattern of development in the vicinity and the proximity of the 60 km/h speed limit signs,” said Ms Doyle. Permission was given subject to eleven conditions, one of which means Mr Howley has to pay €4,000 to the County
Council to allow for the relocation of the town sign of Foxford and the extension of traffic route lighting in the vicinity of the application site.
Michael Duffy
© Mayo News

Campaign begins to protect retail sector in small towns

THE WEST of Ireland will be faced with a situation where its smaller towns will be reduced to virtual ghost towns if the current trend of business closures is not reversed.
This was the bleak picture painted by speakers at a meeting in Kiltimagh last Thursday night when business people, community activists and interested members of the public gathered to discuss the future of the retail sector in small towns. The meeting heard a variety of views with some accusing the shopkeepers for failing to remain competitive while others pointed the finger of blame at the multi-nationals who are establishing a monopolistic stranglehold on the retail sector.
The meeting was organised by IRD Kiltimagh and chaired by John Coll, Director of Community and Enterprise, Mayo Co Council. It was attended by a number of candidates in the General Election as well as local councillors, some of whom are in business.
Mr Joe Kelly, CEO, IRD Kiltimagh, said a campaign called Communities Under Threat had been launched in East Mayo in the 1990s but the problem of shop closures had escalated significantly since then.
“Contrary to beliefs, the silent cancer of the decline of the retail sector is not just affecting the small towns in rural Ireland, though they are the most vulnerable and show the effects in a more dramatic fashion. It is also evident in the larger towns as the Irishowned traditional retailers close as a result of the predatory effects of the multi-national.”
Mr Kelly said the success of multinationals like Tesco, Aldi and Lidl were having a devastating effect on the traditional retail sector. The problem was to be seen in Kiltimagh where three businesses had closed since the beginning of the year. The knock-on effects of these closures were enormous.
“This problem is not just killing jobs in the retail sectors and local economies. It goes much further than that. Jobs are being lost in manufacturing and production, including in agriculture as a result, as more and more produce is being imported from the cheaper Third World economies so as to compete with Irish produce. Irish jobs are being lost as a result.”
Mr Kelly said people believed they were getting value-for-money in supermarkets but they were really only making themselves hostages to fortune.
“The multinationals have taken over our lives, our areas and our livelihoods. We don’t understand that when they have delivered their lethal blow and achieved their Tesco town status we are at their mercy. They can do what they want and charge what they like. They will have no competition and no controls will be able to be placed upon them.”
Cllr Gerry Murray said the burden of responsibility ultimately fell on the Government which had done nothing to stop the decline of the retail sector in
our small towns. He said the most obvious step that should be taken to help the shopkeepers was a re-evaluation of the rates system which was “unfair and outlandish”. Tax incentive schemes could also be provided in our smaller towns while there was no reason why the corporate tax rate of 12.5 per cent could not be adopted for the retail sector.
It was resolved to hold another meeting after the General Election to further advance the campaign to protect the retail sector in the West’s smaller towns. The promoters of the venture - IRD Kiltimagh - say they are very determined to ensure that the matter remains uppermost in the minds of the public in the months ahead. There is a feeling that a crisis point has been reached and the thorny nettle of shop closures has to be grasped once and for all.
James Laffey
© Mayo News

Farmers take case against golf club

More than 30 farmers from the midlands have brought High Court proceedings alleging a golf club is interfering with their long-standing grazing rights on commonage in Co Laois.
The farmers, who live on lands known as the Great Heath near Portlaoise where they have grazed animals for many years, have taken the action against the Heath Golf Club, Portlaoise; the Minister for Finance and the Office of Public Works, which manages the land. The defendants deny the claims.
The farmers, who mainly graze sheep on the heath, are seeking a declaration that they are entitled to graze animals over the heath and they also want an injunction preventing the club from interfering with that right.
They want to restrain the golf club from carrying on any business beyond the area of land leased to them by the State in September 1971. They say the State should ensure that the club complies with the terms of that lease.
The farmers want the court to grant additional orders preventing the club from carrying out activities which, they contend, interfere with the rights of common
pasture, including planting trees, enclosing parts of the heath for a driving range or mowing the grass to an excessively low length.
They say the club also should not be engaging in the daily collection of animal droppings from the course as this deprives the grass of its natural nourishment, nor should it be removing sods of turf from the heath to repair greens or extending the course beyond 18 holes. The club should also be restrained from using tractors and quadbikes which had caused flooding, they say.
The farmers are also seeking to have taken down a number of structures allegedly built without planning permission. In addition, they want the club to reinstate grazing lands where three additional golf holes were constructed.
Cormac Ó Dulacháin SC, for the farmers, said in court yesterday it was his clients' contention that their rights had been infringed as the golf club has expanded.
The case, before Mr Justice Thomas Smyth, is expected to last several days.
© 2007 The Irish Times

Statoil plans heightens concern

CAMPAIGNERS opposed to the controversial Corrib gas pipeline and refinery at Bellanaboy have said that possible plans by Statoil to use the pipeline to transport gas from a field four times bigger than the Corrib field have reaffirmed fears that the site will be used for further development.
Statoil, who are one of the partners along with Shell in the Corrib gas project, have begun searching for gas in an adjacent area off the Mayo coast and they have confirmed that if any gas is found it is possible that Statoil could use the Corrib gas pipeline being built by Shell to transport it.
Statoil co-owns the exploration rights to the two areas it plans to explore with Shell, but unlike the Corrib gas project, Statoil are the senior partner and are solely responsible for the exploration work. The companies have held on to one of the two areas since 1994 and secured the rights to explore another area last year. The size of the two areas totals 1,970 square kilometres compared to 467 square kilometres for the area that produced the Corrib gas find.
The news of the gas exploration work and the possibility of using the Corrib gas pipeline came as little surprise to the opponents of the Corrib gas project who said they have constantly raised the issue of further development of the site. Dr Mark Garavan said there is a potential for more gas finds off the Mayo coast and the real reason for the development of the Bellanaboy site is for for further expansion.
“That news has come as no surprise, it has been one of the arguments we have been making for years. Bellanaboy as a development was never only about Corrib but it is clearly going to be about the development of further gas fields in the north east Atlantic. The reason Shell and the Corrib developers were so keen on a land base for a refinery site was for the expansion of a development of a future well and it accounts for the reason for a high pressure pipeline. We always argued that this was not just about Corrib, and what’s really the real issue here is the development of a site with the capacity for expansion,” said Mark Garavan.
A spokesperson for Shell to Sea, John Monaghan told The Mayo News that at all the planning stages they have always tried to highlight the issue of expansion at Bellanaboy, but this was refuted by the developers, who said it was a once-off. He said the news that Statoil would look to use the site is confirmation that the site will not just be about Corrib and will lead to the increase in the industrialisation of a rural area.
“This is confirms the statement of the Department of the Marine, Communications and Natural Resources who have been promoting new licences to explore in Atlantic waters and have advertised the Corrib infrastructure as potentially reducing the development costs of any other find. The developers were never pushed on the future expansion of the site and it seems our fears are coming true and are well-founded,” he said.
In light of the new exploration of the gas field, Independent TD, Dr Jerry Cowley called for the re-negotiation of the gas exploration deals to ensure that Ireland benefits from the new finds. He said that at present the Norwegian Government will be the beneficiaries of the Corrib gas find while Ireland will receive nothing from the riches of the gas coming ashore.
Efforts to contact a Shell representative on Monday failed.
Anton McNulty
Mayo News

An Taisce appeals Tara motorway order

An Taisce appeals Tara motorway order
An Taisce has brought an appeal to the Supreme Court against the High Court's refusal to permit it to challenge the legality of the development of the M3 Clonee to Kells motorway near the Hill of Tara, Co Meath.
The High Court refused leave earlier this month to bring the action, which could have major implications not just for the M3 but other proposed road schemes.
John Rogers SC, for An Taisce, yesterday told the Chief Justice, Mr Justice John Murray, that an appeal was being brought against that refusal. He would also be seeking an early hearing of that appeal, which he estimated would take two hours.
The Chief Justice said the Supreme Court would fix a date for hearing at a later stage and suggested that counsel consider whether submissions should be filed.
In its action, An Taisce contends the National Roads Authority unlawfully approved on March 13th last its own tolling scheme for the motorway and now proposed to enter into a public-private partnership to that effect without having met necessary statutory requirements under the Roads Act 1993.
The proposed tolling scheme was prepared despite the express opposition of Meath County Council which must, under law, be consulted about any such
plan, it also claims. In promoting and pursuing the construction of the M3 motorway scheme in the absence of the necessary approved plan, the Minister for Transport, it is contended, has also acted unlawfully, unreasonably and in excess of his powers.
If An Taisce succeeds in its Supreme Court appeal and gets leave to bring the challenge, it will have significant implications, not just for the M3 but for other road schemes as it is claimed the NRA has breached its statutory duty under section 18 of the Roads Act to prepare and adopt, once every five years, a draft plan for the construction and maintenance of national roads.
Among the reliefs sought in the proposed action is an order that the NRA cannot take any steps for the implementation of a tolling scheme intended to finance the M3 until the draft plan has been prepared and adopted under section 18.
In an affidavit, Ian Lumley, national heritage officer with An Taisce, said that of all the developments currently contemplated, the M3 Clonee to Kells motorway was "probably the most significant in terms of its likely adverse effects".
The motorway was likely to have a significant adverse impact on a great range of different environmental issues, in particular the national monument on the Hill of Tara and the Tara/Skryne valley, which is of international and worldwide importance, the River Boyne, expressly designated as being of European importance, and a series of landscapes classified as high amenity.
© 2007 The Irish Times

Put people first by design, says civic leader

ARCHITECTS must strive for higher standards and place people at the centre of their work, a leading civic figure said at the weekend.

John X Miller, the head of Cork’s Civic Trust, a non-profit voluntary organisation dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the city’s architectural heritage and environment, made the comments at the launch of his new book Emerging Cork on Friday night.

It captures in photographs the cutting-edge architecture which has changed the face of the city.

It highlights the impact of many of the newest buildings — some up to seven years old but others which have yet to be opened.

It features striking images from some of the city’s top professional photographers, including Janice O’Connell, Kevin Dwyer and Tony O’Connell, who also acted as photographic adviser.

It also includes artists’ impressions of projects under construction.

The images focus mainly on the outside of the buildings, highlighting their architectural impact. However, interior elements, which Mr Miller said were crucial in many ways to achieving work-life balance, have also been included.

He described the book as an extended snapshot and record of the swift pace of unprecedented development in the city in recent years

“It dawned on me that no one seemed to be keeping a visual record of how these changes were impacting on the city and its existing built heritage,” he said.

“Even as we speak, the city is still developing and changing, a fact which makes keeping a visual record of these changes all the more important.”

Mr Miller said the rising architectural standards must rise further.

“All involved in creating a vibrant living city need to aspire to the highest of standards, be it in planning, construction and aesthetics. Most of all, people and their needs must be placed at the very centre of this creative process,” he said.

The book, funded by the Civic Trust and Cork City Council, includes a foreword by Irish Examiner property editor, Tommy Barker. The book was launched by Enterprise Minister Micheál Martin.

It is on sale at Cork Vision Centre, North Main Street, and bookstores, at €25. A companion DVD is being made for pupil education.

Irish Examiner

Council plan to bulldoze gangs out of city estate

Radical move to make way for urban centre

AN estate of almost 500 houses which is home to the country's most dangerous criminal gangs could soon be completely levelled to make way for an ultra-modern development.

St Mary's Park in the heart of Limerick city, known locally as the Island Field, is the heartland of the Keane and Collopy gangs who are central to the drugs trade and criminality in the city.

Limerick City Council plans to put radical proposals for the demolition and regeneration of the area before the local authority members by the end of the year. If agreed, all 480 homes in the area could soon be demolished to make way for a new urban centre in Limerick, including around 30 owned by members of the gangs. The demolition proposal follows a recent report into social problems in Limerick by former Dublin city manager John Fitzgerald, which proposed the demolition of another 1,000 houses in Southill and Moyross.

Representatives from the Department of the Environment and the city council have already met on several occasions to discuss regeneration of the St Mary's Park area and the plans are at an advanced stage.

Limerick City Council owns the vast majority of the houses in the area, but residents who have bought their own homes will be forced to sell up under a compulsory purchase order.

Senior council official Paul Foley said: "We have engaged the services of Ennis-based Tom McNamara & Partners as consultants to work with Limerick City Council and the department to draft a strategy for the regeneration of St Mary's Park.


"It is expected the strategy will be put before the council at the beginning of the autumn and it is envisaged it will be the first of the regeneration schemes to be rolled out in the city," said Mr Foley.

St Mary's Park was built in the 1930s and is surrounded on three sides by water. In recent years, the area has suffered from anti-social behavior, criminal elements and a lack of government funding and state initiatives.

It is understood the consultants will meet with the four local councillors early next month, to gauge their views and to share ideas. Also next month there will be a walkabout with city officials and local residents.

Reports advocating the demolition of the estate and arguing for renovation have in the past been knocked by the Government. However, finance is now available for a massive regeneration of the area.

Barry Duggan
Sunday Independent

Scammers beat new CIE ticket gates

THEY cost more than €9m to install, but Irish Rail's new electronic ticket checkers have been hit by a "Noah's Ark" scam with fraudsters beating the system by going in "two by two". The new validation machines for Dart and commuter rail services are being effortlessly outsmarted by those who want to get away without purchasing a ticket.

The problem is the time lag of two seconds when the doors are left open after a paying customer walks through. Others can then take advantage by rushing through the still-open turnstile without having to insert a valid ticket.

Security at the station have confirmed that commuters of all ages, including groups of friends and even entire families are trying to outsmart the newly installed devices.

One security man at a city station said "I'm seeing dozens of people trying to do it every day, families and everything, all types of people. But we catch them once they're on the platform because we have two or three people waiting there to check that everyone has their tickets. And when we do, we send them straight over to the desk where they get fined €50."

Although a number of security staff have been posted to keep an eye on commuters as they use the machines, he admitted peak times are proving to be the most difficult period to spot scammers among the crowds.

"At rush hour it's harder to see them doing it. Some of them are a lot cleverer than you'd think but others don't even know where to put the ticket."

Another staff member said that clever commuters are also wising up to another way of dodging the machines.

"Quite a lot of people have copped on to the fact that if you block the beam [which controls the gates], the doors stay open, so you sometimes catch two or three people trying to come through at a time, while their friend stands in front of the beam. You could stand there for ages and let loads of people through."

But Jane Cregan, a spokeswoman for Iarnrod Eireann, denied that the company has been experiencing significant problems with people taking advantage of the expensive new machines.

"We have a person assigned to each validation area so it is not a problem that we are experiencing and, although tailgating is hard to quantify, there has been a noted reduction since the machines were first introduced," she said.

Irish Independent

Lawlor widow fails to block probe

Tribunal's public hearings on Quarryvale to go ahead after 18-month delay

THE public hearings of the Quarryvale Two module of the Mahon Tribunal got the green light yesterday after Liam Lawlor's widow failed in her bid to stop it.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill in the High Court refused to put a stay on the tribunal module hearings and said the delay of 18 months in bringing such an application was "unacceptable".

However, the judge ruled that Hazel Lawlor could continue with her legal challenge to the module, but on certain grounds only.

The judge said that Mrs Lawlor, whose husband died in a Moscow car crash two years ago, was not the only person to be interested in the proceedings of the tribunal.

Many others, he said, were affected by the proceedings and wanted an opportunity to deal with allegations against them.

The Quarryvale Two module into the rezoning of lands at Carrickmines has not gone into public hearings since the initial opening statement in November 2005 because of a court challenge by developer Owen O Callaghan - which was unsuccessful before the Supreme Court last month.

The module is due to begin on Monday with a new opening statement and developer Tom Gilmartin will take the stand the next day. More than 130 witnesses have been listed for the public hearings, including Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who is due to give evidence at the end of May.

Delivering his judgment on an application by Mrs Lawlor for a stay on the public hearings of the module pending the hearing of her legal challenge before the High Court, Mr Justice O'Neill said there was a great public interest in having the tribunal inquiries in the Quarryvale module completed expeditiously.

The Oireachtas, he said, and more importantly the public were entitled to know that the inquiry could be brought to a conclusion.

The longer the delay in concluding the inquiries, the more the quality of the inquiry work would be susceptible to hazard, he said.

The delay had not been explained to his satisfaction and was unacceptable, Mr Justice O'Neill said.

Ann O'Loughlin
Irish Independent

One of Rossport Five quits Corrib hearing

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One of Rossport Five quits Corrib hearing

BRENDAN Philbin, one of the Rossport Five, withdrew in protest yesterday from an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing into an operating licence for the Corrib Gas project.

Mr Philbin told the hearing in Mayo into the granting of a licence for the refinery that there was not yet a pipeline. "There's a gas field, there's a site for a refinery, but there's a big blank in between . . . You cannot deal with an license when there's a vital piece of infrastructure missing."

He said that the pollution prevention control licence should not be issued until ongoing court proceedings were concluded, and asked how the EPA could reach valid conclusions by calculating imaginary figures - the new pipeline could be 5km or 50km long, he said.

Chairman Frank Clinton said his legal advice was "to press on", and that the company had informed the agency it was not yet in a position to clarify matters.

Mr Clinton agreed he would have to consider such problems in his report. "You are absolutely right; the changing situation in the background has a bearing."

He added that the new pipeline could change the inventory of what was needed for the project.

The hearing reconvenes next Tuesday.

Irish Independent

Friday 27 April 2007

1,400 acres on Dingle peninsula for over €5m

Landholdings: A large landholding along the Conor Pass, including a lake
featured in the film of The Field, will interest wealthy individuals and the State,
given its potential as a park, writes Jack Fagan .
One of the most spectacular mountain ranges in Ireland with 1,400 acres
along the Conor Pass on the Dingle peninsula in Co Kerry is to be offered for
sale on the international market.
It is one of the largest land holdings to go for sale in recent years and includes
400 acres of mature forest. The remaining 1,000 acres are mainly located in a
valley though there is also mountain grazing lands.
Joint selling agents DTZ Sherry FitzGerald in Limerick and Jim O'Shea
Auctioneers will today begin marketing what they describe as "one of the most
unique properties in Ireland". It is being sold for an American owner and is
expected to fetch over €5 million.
With the general election in the offing, local politicians are likely to come
under pressure to persuade the Government to acquire the land for the
purposes of setting up a national park.
The Conor Pass is known to millions of tourists as one of the most beautiful
and panoramic driving routes in the south of Ireland.
It is the second highest pass in Ireland and adjoins the village of Cloghane
which has a population of about 300. Driving over the pass, there are
magnificent views over Brandon Bay and the Atlantic ocean as well as over
Dingle town. The lands are largely at the foot of Mount Brandon, running all
the way to the Owenmore fishery which forms the western boundary.
The Conor Pass acts as a stunning southern boundary while Sliabh Mhacha
Re marks the eastern boundary. The extensive holding includes three lakes:
Lough Atlea; Lough Clogharee; and the famous Pedlar's Lake which was
used as the backdrop in the filming of The Field. The property has a wide
range of flora and fauna and, as well as the established forestry, the lands
sustain a herd of Connemara ponies and a diversity of wildlife.
There are various ruins scattered about the land, possibly opening the way for
a house to be built at one of the access points from the Conor Pass road.
Forestry land in the area is valued at between €5,000 and €6,000 an acre
and, according to the selling agents, there is scope to increase the acreage of
land under forestry. About a year ago, the six-mile long Owenmore river and
the adjoining 300 acres are believed to have been sold to the Roche family for
over €2.5 million.
John Buckley, director of DTZ Sherry Fitz-Gerald, said a property of such
outstanding natural beauty rarely comes to the market. "Without doubt, this
holding is a world heritage site and will generate phenomenal national and
international interest."
Jim O'Shea, a specialist in forestry and development land, said the potential
for this landholding was endless. It could be acquired by the private sector for
an eco-tourism-based venture, as a private nature reserve or as an estate. In
addition, the State may well consider the acquisition of the land for a national
© 2007 The Irish Times

Corranure Landfill smell unacceptable – Manager

Major works are currently in train to control the foul smell of gas from the
Corranure Landfill site, adjacant to the Cootehill road but the County Manager
Jack Keyes points out that the total elimination of all odour from current
landfills is an impossibility.
The Manager told a meeting of Cavan County Council this week that he
wished to acknowledge the presence of foul odours in the area surrounding
Coranure landfill. The situation has been unacceptable for some time.
Significant resources have been inputted to find a solution. Expert companies
from Ireland and the UK have played roles. There have been a noticeable
improvement in recent weeks.
Cavan County Council has recently undertaken significant works at Corranure
Landfill to address landfill gas odour emanating from the facility and intends
shortly to provide a permanent capping system to the current active cell which
will significantly reduce gas emissions.
Specialist landfill gas management companies have been employed in the
upgrading and monitoring of the gas collection and flaring systems. To
improve the efficiency of the gas collection system and reduce odour
emissions, the Council has recently provided a 0.5m clay capping layer to the
active cell on all areas except the working face, which has resulted in a
noticeable reduction in gas emissions at the facility.
"I would like to thank all those who have made submissions or expressed
opinions and assure them that progress is being made. The fact that the
situation has existed in many other landfills across the country is of little
comfort to those whose quality of life has been affected. The focus is now on
the future", stated the Co. Manager.
Mr. Keyes pointed out that the kernal of the problem is the use of the landfill to
dispose of ever increasing quantities of waste. The decomposition of waste
leads to the production of methane gas which causes smell. The
accompanying technical statement gives details of some of the measures
used to deal with same.
"The medium term solution we are developing is to cease the landfilling of
composable material and to develop alternative technology to deal with waste.
I am happy to confirm that the planning for this is advanced".
"Corranure now needs to re-establish itself as a landfill/waste disposal facility
of the highest reputation. The civic amenity site, used by many members of
the public, is an example of the quality Cavan County Council provides. It is
my intention, working with my professional and willing staff and the elected
members, to bring forward a solution for the people residing adjacant to
Corranure, and the county at large", stated the Co. Manager.
Sean McMahon
© Anglo-Celt

Mansfield scales back plans for conference centre

Jim Mansfield has scaled back his plans to build a large convention centre at
his Citywest hotel complex in the hope of getting the green light from
The businessman has applied to South Dublin County Council for permission
to build a 4,000-capacity centre at Citywest, at a cost of €70-€90 million. The
facility will cover 7,500sq ft with a ceiling rising to 13m or more in height to
allow for big stage sets that are required for major conferences.
Mr Mansfield's latest application comes less than a year after An Bord
Pleanála refused him permission to build a significantly larger, 6,000-capacity
conference facility at Citywest. This followed appeals by An Taisce, the
heritage body, and businessman Harry Crosbie, who runs the Point.
Mr Mansfield, whose property portfolio is valued at €1.4 billion, had earlier
built a steel-frame structure for the building without permission and was
ordered to take it down by the council. The structure remains in place.
Ciarán Hancock
© Irish Times 2007

Statoil to discuss Corrib gas project concerns with TDs

Norwegian company Statoil is due to meet a delegation of nine TDs in Dublin
today in relation to concerns about the Corrib gas project. Helge Hatlestad,
senior vice-president of international development and production at Statoil,
will travel to Dublin at the invitation of Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley (Ind).
Statoil is a partner with Shell E&P Ireland and Marathon in the project,
currently the subject of an Environmental Protection Agency hearing.
Three Labour Party deputies - party president Michael D Higgins, marine
spokesman Tommy Broughan and Joe Costello - will attend, along with the
Green Party marine spokesman Eamon Ryan, Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins
and Independent TDs Tony Gregory, Catherine Murphy, Finian McGrath and
Dr Cowley.
Dr Cowley, who had planned to bring a cross-party group to Norway late last
year, said the meeting was requested in relation to his concerns about the
project and its impact on his constituents.
Dr Cowley's proposal, supported by NUI Seanad candidate Dr Mark Garavan,
for an independent commission to examine the entire project as a "means to a
permanent solution", would also be discussed, he said. Such a solution would
have to have "community consent", he added.
"The fact that Statoil is exploring two areas adjoining the Corrib field, and that
finds from same may feed into the Corrib gas network, makes it all the more
important to find a solution that is safe and that has the support of the local
north Mayo community," Dr Cowley said yesterday. "Nobody is against
bringing gas ashore if it can be done safely."
Last year, Statoil said it was committed to the project, and halting work on the
terminal was "not an option". However, it was critical of a failure by the original
developer to "communicate with residents in north Mayo".
Terje Nustad, head of the Norwegian energy workers' union, SAFE, has
pledged support for the Shell to Sea campaign, following a visit to north Mayo
last year, and called on Statoil to withdraw its involvement in the project.
SAFE represents 7,000 workers in the Norwegian energy industry, mainly
employed with Statoil, but also some with Shell.
Lorna Siggins
© 2007 The Irish Times

New technology 'not for Corrib'

A new gas-processing technology, used by Shell offshore in Malaysia, was
debated at the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) hearing into the
issuing of an integrated pollution prevention control licence.
An expert witness for Shell E&P Ireland argued that the innovative Twister
technology, which condenses and separates water from hydrocarbons and
natural gas, was not suitable for the remote Corrib field and would not reduce
the overall "footprint" of the project.
Shell senior process engineer, James McBrien, said that Corrib's hostile
conditions, coupled with drilling requirements, made it impractical to use the
technology on an unmanned field.
"Given the gas composition, and when environmental and safety impacts are
considered, a subsea tieback to an onshore gas processing facility is the best
available technique for developing the Corrib field," said Mr McBrien in his
He was responding to an objection which argued that Shell had a
responsibility to inform the EPA of Twister and as to "why it had not been
considered" for Corrib.
Micheál Ó Seighín, one of the Rossport Five, asked Mr McBrien if he would
accept that this alternative was best for the community.
"I'm not in a position to comment on your valid concerns," said Mr McBrien.
Shell to Sea campaigner John Monaghan asked Corrib project manager Gerry
Costello had Shell ever considered offshore, unmanned platforms at the
concept stage and their positive impact on levels of emissions.
Mr Costello said it would have been discussed but the consideration was not
mentioned in the environmental impact statement, which outlined the
suitability of the onshore option.
He also said that "emissions from a shallow-water platform were considered
to be considerably higher than from an onshore platform".
Aspects of Shell's security of supply of Corrib gas were also challenged.
Áine Ryan
© The Irish Times

Corrib gas hearing warned on bias

The "demonisation and vilification" of the people of Erris, along with the
continued large presence of gardaí, militated against the Environmental
Protection Agency's oral hearing forming an objective decision, the hearing
was told yesterday.
On the seventh day of the hearing into the issuing of an integrated pollution
prevention licence for the Corrib gas refinery, Seán Harrington - who is
objecting to the licence - suggested to the chairman, Frank Clinton, that since
he was "only human", he was bound to be influenced by such factors.
"In certain sections of the press we have been demonised and called such
pejorative names as aboriginals, pseudo-intellectuals and druids. Last week's
High Court decision [ in which Shell was ordered to pay costs of about €1
million] and the environmental award received by Willie Corduff have totally
exonerated the Rossport Five," said Mr Harrington. He said local people were
intimidated by the large Garda presence in the mornings and by the fact that
two plain-clothes gardaí attended the hearing.
"This is no longer an engineering problem, this is an international human
rights issue," he added.
Mr Clinton said that since, as far as he was aware, the gardaí were clients of
the hotel, he would not wish to deprive them of their breakfasts.
"I will not seek to bring any influence to bear on the Garda presence here," he
said. However, he did say that he had conveyed an earlier complaint to an onduty
Mr Harrington also asked if Shell could confirm that there was any quarrying
activity at Bellanaboy; if so, had it the necessary consents, and did it intend
depositing the material that it is at present depositing in a Bord na Móna
cutaway bog, 11 kilometres from Bellanaboy, on site. He was alluding to the
site's location in a drinking-water catchment for 10,000 people and the
increased potential for run-off.
In reply, senior counsel for Shell Esmonde Keane said "the development was
proceeding according to the planning permission obtained", which did include
the movement of material around the site. Mr Keane also confirmed no
concrete was being manufactured on site and it was being supplied by a local
Mr Keane strongly challenged a contention by Dr Dave Aldridge, a military
systems engineer and an expert witness for the Friends of Rossport, that "the
proposal to store 3,627 tons of methanol at Bellanaboy in close proximity to
houses and release upwards of 1,800 tons per year into the environment
could lead to another Bhopal here in Co Mayo". He argued that Dr Aldridge
had made "an incredible quantum leap" in his assumption that under certain
temperatures and conditions, such as a breach of pipes, the liquid methanol
would transform into a toxic and potentially fatal vapour cloud.
Dr Aldridge said he was referring to "the worst-case scenario". The chairman
said "major accident scenarios" were outside the hearing's parameters.
Áine Ryan
© Irish Times

Cullen accused of borrowed bus 'confidence trick'

YOU wait and wait for a bus and when one finally arrives you discover it has been borrowed!

Yesterday Transport Minister Martin Cullen was accused of taking part in a "crude attempt at a confidence trick" on the public after Bus Eireann unveiled plans to extend its fleet.

For the double-decker used in the publicity photo-shoot to launch the campaign in Dublin was borrowed from Northern bus company Translink.

Labour's transport spokesperson Roisin Shortall said the coach was covered in Bus Eireann stickers just for the occasion.

"Not since Ray Burke famously had trees planted in a housing estate prior to polling day - only to have them removed once the votes had been cast - has their been such an attempt at a crude confidence trick," she said.

But the claim was strongly rejected by Mr Cullen's department which described the suggestion of an attempt to dupe the public as "ridiculous".

Bus Eireann confirmed the bus had been borrowed from Translink for the occasion but also pointed out the coach had signs on both sides saying "Coach provided by Translink".

The company was tendering for 32 similar vehicles each costing around €460,000.

"The idea was to show the public the new type of coach we will be using," said a spokesperson.

Fergus Black
Irish Independent

Commuter belts expand

POPULATION growth has shot through the roof in the ever-widening commuter belts of Ireland's biggest cities.

New Census 2006 figures show that people are moving out of cities and into smaller towns.

And these are groaning under the pressure of seeing their numbers double or even treble in just a few years.

The five cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford have lost population share compared to the rest of the country with a total growth of just 4pc that is half the rate of the country as a whole.

Galway was the exception to this as its population has grown by 10pc since 2002. It now stands at 72,720 and could hit 100,000 by 2020 if growth continues at this rate.

But the number of large towns has increased from 28 to 34, with Mallow, Wicklow, Arklow, Cobh, Midleton, and Ballina the new arrivals on a list dominated by Leinster with 22 towns inhabited by over 10,000 people.

Balbriggan was the fastest growing big town. Its population soared by 51pc to 15,559, while, also in north Dublin, Swords saw its population soar to 34,000.

Drogheda narrowly pipped Dundalk to become the largest town in Louth, and with a population of 35,090 is now Ireland's biggest urban centre outside the main cities.

Towns near Cork city such as Carrigaline, Midleton and Mallow also saw massive increases, most notably in Carrigtwohill which saw its population double to 2,782.

Towns near Galway such as Athenry also boomed, while the population of Oranmore doubled to 3,500.

Near Dublin, the population of Stamullen in Co Meath trebled to 2,500 in just four years.

Other commuter-belt towns around the capital such as Lusk, Rathcoole, Blessington, Kilcock, Kilcullen and Duleek also witnessed population explosions, with the phenomenon reaching out as far as Portarlington in Co Laois, Enfield in Co Meath and beyond.

Overall, the Irish population has grown by 322,645 since 2002, but most of these live outside the big cities.

This means that the city share of the population fell from 35.5pc to 34.2pc, the census figures just published by the Central Statistics Office show.

The biggest population increases were in villages with a population of between 50 and 1,500 people in Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow which grew by over a third, twice as fast as villages elsewhere.

Irish Independent

TD says minister must publish spur rail link feasibility study

THE Minister for Transport has been called on to publicise a feasibility study carried out on a spur rail link connecting Shannon to the Limerick-Ennis line.

Labour education spokeswoman Jan O’Sullivan, TD said the report has been lying on the minister’s desk.

Ms O’Sullivan said: “The Minister for Transport told me in a parliamentary reply on February 20 that the draft final report was completed at that stage and that the final report would be available shortly. It’s now more than two months later and there’s no sign of it. It should be published without further delay.”

She said there is no commitment to funding the line in the Government’s proposals under Transport 21.

Ms O’Sullivan said it was vital for Shannon’s future that it is easy to get to by public transport and rail is the best option.

She said: “The Limerick-Ennis line has already proved to be a great success. I have no doubt that a link to Shannon be equally successful for visitors and locals alike.”

Deputy O’Sullivan also accused Minister Martin Cullen of reneging on his promise to implement an Economic and Tourism Development Plan to prepare the region for the consequences of Open Skies which will end Shannon’s right to an equal number of transatlantic flights with Dublin.

She said: “There is a real threat to jobs and prosperity in the Mid-West. We will lose business to Dublin if nothing is done to market and support Shannon. Open Skies is upon us and the Government is still sitting on its hands.”

Ms O’Sullivan expressed great disappointment at the minister’s response to the debate. She said: “He was flippant and dismissive and gave no date for the publication of either the rail study or the plan. Mr Cullen is coming to the Mid-West this weekend and I’m calling on him to give us positive news on these issues.”

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has publicly come out against a rail spur into Shannon saying it is not necessary. He told a meeting in Limerick recently that the roads into Shannon were good.

Irish Examiner

Retirement village plans rejected by An Bord Pleanála as unsustainable

PLANS for one of Ireland’s largest retirement villages have been overturned.

An Bord Pleanála yesterday refused planning permission for a multi-million euro convalescence centre near Conna, east Cork.

A number of local objectors, including Séamus and Helen Hogan from Belvedere House, Templevalley, were joined by An Taisce in opposing the project promoted by west Cork businessman Danny Lordan.

Mr Lordan is the founder and director of a nursing homes’ company, Golden Meadows, which currently provides amenities in counties Cork and Waterford.

Cork Co Council previously granted planning permission for the 181-unit retirement village at Templevalley, Curraglass.

But An Bord Pleanála ruled the proposed development would be unsustainable and contrary to the local development plan.

Mr Lordan planned to construct a 64-bed single-storey nursing home along with 33 apartments, 36 cottages and a 48-suite convalescence centre at Templevalley.

The greenfield site, on a regional road between Midleton and Tallow, is 3.5 kilometres south-east of Curraglass, straddling the Cork-Waterford border.

Mr Lordan’s proposal also envisaged the development of a six-hole golf course, a 217-space car park and an effluent treatment centre.

In his report, An Bord Pleanála inspector Bryan Ward said the development, in a remote rural area zoned for agricultural use with poor existing services, was unsustainable and contrary to the local development plan settlement strategy.

He added the development would appear prominent and obtrusive in the surrounding landscape and would seriously detract from the visual amenities of this scenic rural area. Furthermore, it would give rise to significant traffic and potentially endanger public safety.

The inspector added he was not satisfied waste water discharges from the planned effluent plant would not damage the nearby salmon-breeding Glenaboy River.

Meanwhile, the leaseholds for two of Mr Lordan’s retirement homes — in Clonakilty and Dungarvan — are on the market with a combined asking price of €4.5 million. Both, up and running facilities, are being sold as a turnkey operation.

Mr Lordan built the Clonakilty facility in 2001. The lease for the 46-bed home expires in December 2011, and the purchaser of the leasehold will then have the option of purchasing it outright for an agreed fixed price. The guide price for the leasehold is €2m.

The leasehold for the 64-bed Dungarvan facility is also for sale, with a guide price of €2.5m.

Irish Examiner

Thursday 26 April 2007

Planning stories

I've had a few emails in the last two weeks asking me my opinion on a range of planning stories in the media and made available on my site. I'd love to have time to spend responding to each story; to get involved in chatrooms, filling the Internet with new material, but I don't have time. I am also interested in reading planning stories myself and to read and then to write would take considerable time. Most people assume that to be interested in a subject, one should show this by writing about it. However, what such people forget is how those we know who write about their interests are most often paid to do so. These people are our journalists, novelists and website content providers. The link between being interested in a subject and needing to write about it is mistaken. I work in the area in which I am interested; I am involved in day to day planning stories which are sometimes interesting and sometimes less so, but I don't need to write about it. From time to time I read or see something worth writing about, but most of the time I'd have to try hard to find stories worth my attention. I leave the writing to the professionals; I enjoy it and collect the stories for others to share. For those who appreciate this, enjoy.

Brendan Buck

Commuters can look forward to buses every 12 minutes in 2008

Commuters can look forward to buses every 12 minutes in 2008

SUPER-BUSES every 12 minutes are promised for tens of thousands of car-dependent commuters living in Dublin's expanding satellite towns.

But don't stand at the bus stop waiting just yet - the new services will not start until early next year.

The long arm of Dublin continues to reach up to 100km into the countryside.

A major expansion plan unveiled yesterday will transform public transportation for commuters in booming towns in Meath, Kildare and Wicklow, Bus Eireann pledged.

Services from areas such as Navan, Naas and Ashbourne to the capital will take place with "city-style service frequency" every 12 minutes.

The new services will be introduced early next year with the addition of 70 new big double-deck buses and coaches.

Key improvements include:

* A new "city-style service frequency" on all major commuter routes into Dublin city, with buses running as regularly as every 12 minutes throughout the day.

* On the busy Ashbourne/Dublin there will be a bus every 12 minutes all day, while commuters on the equally busy Navan/Dublin and Naaa/Dublin routes buses will run every 15 minutes also throughout the day.

* Mullingar/Enfield/Kilcock/ Dublin will run every 30 minutes.

* Rathoath/Dublin buses every 30 minutes.

A range of new services including direct hourly bus services from Dublin Airport to locations such as Mullingar/Enfield, Wicklow/Bray and Newbridge/Naas on a dusk-till-dawn basis are also being introduced.

Dr John Lynch, CIE chairman, said the new buses would enable them to deliver in a very short timeframe significant and tangible improvements to the transport service in the expanding commuter belt.

"The implementation of these plans is vital - not only if we want to provide for the needs of the next generation of commuters but also if we want to reduce congestion car usage, traffic volumes and ultimately carbon emissions in the greater Dublin area," he added.

Treacy Hogan
Irish Independent

School to house €50m social plan campus

ONE of Ireland's most famous hurling schools and seminaries is to be transformed into a €50m education campus to tackle social disadvantage.

The ambitious redevelopment blueprint for St Finbarr's-Farranferris College in Cork was unveiled yesterday by the Bishop of Cork, Dr John Buckley.

The plan was drawn up by multi-millionaire developer and St Finbarr's past pupil, Michael O'Flynn, who described the project as one of the most exciting he was ever involved with.

Under his proposal, the 22-acre St Finbarr site will be developed to include:

* A total refurbishment of the main building.

* Construction of six new high-tech office buildings.

* Sell-off of a 13-acre site for the development of 108 private residential units.

The buildings will house services by Cork VEC, FAS, Cope Foundation, Rehab, Cabas and Northside Community Enterprises, UCC and CIT.

Irish Independent

Here's one €350,000 property you'll need to get on the ladder to acquire

A RENOWNED architect has put an unusual site on the market in a leafy Dublin surburb with an asking price of €350,000.

The catch?

The "site" is in fact a tract of air between two existing houses, which overhangs the current "owner's" access road.

"This is an unusual opportunity to acquire a very well located property which has potential subject to planning permission to enhance and further develop," the property's brochure boasts, adding that the opportunity "should be of interest to a shrewd investor/developer with the resources to undergo the planning process and create an innovative and cutting edge property of striking appeal."

"It's a very competitive price," insisted Tom O'Higgins of Remax's Dun Laoghaire branch, who is selling the property on behalf of architect Alfred E Jones. "It's an excellent location, you'd get €700,000 if the site already had planning," he added.

The private access road to the Summerhill Court development was acquired by the architect in December 2005 for €20,000.

Mr O'Higgins said he had already had "more than 60" calls about the site in Sandycove in south Dublin. "There have been a number of offers conditional on planning permission, but that's not the way we're selling it," he said.

Mr Jones said that a buyer would be able to get 1,500 sq ft of accommodation on the site.

Mr Jones himself is an architect of considerable expertise, so would he not seize the "opportunity" himself? "I put it on the market because I would like to see what the market would hold at this stage," he said.

"Developing it myself, that's not where I'm going with it at the moment."

The site's value to any prospective owner hinges entirely on the success of planning permission. Planning permission for "unusual" residential developments in south Dublin is notoriously hard to come by these days, and Mr Jones himself fell foul of local opposition last year when he tried to change the use of his own premises on the same terrace.

Laura Noonan
Irish Independent

Follow up:

IN APRIL 2006, Alfred E Jones secured planning permission for a "change of use" and extension to a property he owns to the rear of 20 Summerhill Road.

The permission allowed Mr Jones to change the property's use from a studio to a residential unit, and to add an extension.

However, his joy was shortlived when several neighbours lodged complaints with An Bord Pleanála later that month.

The neighbours complained that the development would "seriously injure the amenities of the area" and "would depreciate the value of residential property at Summerhill Court [behind Summerhill Road]".

In August an Bord Pleanála overturned the local authority's decision noting that "the Board considered that the proposed development would constitute disorderly backland development".

However, Mr Jones remains optimistic. "I wouldn't say it didn't work out," he said. "It's not never over. You just keep at them."

Irish Independent

Wednesday 25 April 2007

Launch Of Campaign to Save Tara

An Bord Pleanála gave permission for the four lane, twice-tolled M3 Through The Gabhra(TaraSkyrne) Valley in 2003 and since then there has been a huge campaign to have that section of the road re-routed.
The Campaign to save Tara is an alliance of voluntary groups involved in this lobbying. The Campaign was officially launched on Tuesday the 24th of April 2007 at an event in the Cultivate Centre, Temple Bar beginning at 1pm. The campaign also announced their electoral strategy and approach to the upcoming general election.
The electoral strategy was outlined by Michael Canney who said that they are asking for a re-route of the section of the M3 that runs through the Gabhra Valley. He said
"We are asking people to consider each candidates and party's position on the route at the ballot box. We will encourage people to vote for the candidates who provide written commitments that they will support a review of the route, if they are elected to government."
Dr Muireann Ni Bhrolcháin, senior lecturer in the School of Celtic Studies, National
University of Ireland in Maynooth and long term campaigner on the issue, said 'The Tara issue is the line in the sand. If the Gabhra Valley is not safe- nowhere in Ireland is safe from future development in the spurious name of progress. It is physically distressing to see huge sites being excavated in such haste".
She quoted Duncan Stewart's evaluation of the proposed road, 'The M3 is the worst example of unsustainable development- this artery will encourage more sprawl and development in Meath. The developers will be the only ones to benefit and it will delay, if not prevent the re-opening of the more desirable railway line'
Professor Daithí Ó hÓgáin of the Dept of Folklore, National University of Ireland, Dublin who has a long standing concern regarding the project has said of the area: " Tara is the focal centre of Irish Heritage and culture- there is an extraordinary rich complex of myth and symbolism associated with the site"
The bardic poet from Cork, Diarmuid Ó Dálaigh, summed up the significance of the Tara
Valley for the majority of people in Ireland with a recitation of his poem 'Tara'.
The Campaign also launched their literature for the election that will be distributed in the Meath constituencies and other target areas. A 16-page newspaper has also been
produced and will be sold for €2 as a fund raising project. It includes a number of pages on archaeology and photographs of the sites.
Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin 087-9249510
Campaign to Save Tara / photographs at

City manager defends land sale

CORK’S city manager has defended the contract governing the multi-million euro sale of 111 acres of public land to a top developer almost five years ago.

Following probing questions from two city councillors, Joe Gavin issued a detailed two-page report this week outlining the issues surrounding the sale of city-owned land at Mahon to developer Owen O’Callaghan.

In 1999, the then Cork Corporation advertised the sale of the land-bank in Mahon.

O’Callaghan Properties bid €44 million and won the tender with ambitious plans for the development of Mahon Point shopping centre.

Although it was not the highest bidder, the company’s offer to build a trade centre on a portion of the site helped clinched the deal.

Under the terms of the sale, which was finally signed off in 2002, Mr O’Callaghan entered in to a trade centre agreement which would see him build a trade centre, or in default of this, pay €6,094,742 to the council.

But a trade centre was subsequently deemed unsuitable at this location as the council earmarked a CIE-owned site near Kent Station as its preferred location.

As efforts to secure the centre on that site dragged on, Mr Gavin announced two weeks ago his intention to call in the O’Callaghan bond to help fund the construction of a conference centre elsewhere in the city.

He invited proposals from the private sector to build the facility within two kilometres of the city and said the council was prepared to invest up to €12m in the project to demonstrate its commitment.

But Fine Gael Cllr Patricia Gosch and Socialist Party Cllr Mick Barry asked Mr Gavin why the €6m O’Callaghan bond was not index-linked to take into account rocketing land values.

The site could now be worth up to €8m.

They also asked why he was not being forced to hand back to the city the prime site which was originally earmarked for the trade centre.

Mr Gavin confirmed that the amount agreed was not subject to indexation and that there was no provision for the return of lands to the city council.

“The payment of €6,094,742 which was the money to be expended on the trade centre by purchasers was the agreed default situation,” he said.

He said formal negotiations between the council and O’Callaghan Properties will take place on the terms of the trade centre agreement.

But a spokesman for O’Callaghan Properties said the company has always been, and still is willing to build the trade centre in Mahon.

He said once a decision is finally and officially taken to not proceed with the Mahon Point option, it will honour in full the terms of the bond.

Cork City Council

Raw sewage pumped into river

RAW sewage is being pumped daily into a scenic river which has been designated a 'special area of conservation'.

Independent tests show that the River Barrow contains a very high count of cryptosporidium - the same bug that has contaminated Galway's drinking water supply and left hundreds of people sick.

The untreated sewage, which contains used condoms, tampons, lumps of human excrement and shredded toilet paper, is being pumped into the river through two pipes in the heart of Portarlington, beside a park where children play.

The source of the sewage has been identified as a block of apartments and a number of houses and businesses in the town. These premises were incorrectly connected to the water surface system meaning untreated sewage was being channeled directly into the river.

Local anglers, angered at the number of fish kills along the river, began independent tests of the water three years ago. The tests, which are carried out fortnightly, show that the Barrow is a 'moderately polluted river' with a high level of cryptosporidium. Laois County Council has consistently rejected claims that it is behind the pollution but was forced yesterday to admit that untreated effluent is regularly pumped into the river because of "misconnections" in the sewage system.

Last night Kildare County Council stressed the town's drinking water is safe. It does not come from the Barrow but from the Poulaphoca Reservoir and wells at Hybla and Rathangan.

Breda Heffernan
Irish Independent

Landowner rights 'can't be ignored'

THE rights of landowners cannot be ignored just to give walkers greater access to the countryside, said Minister Eamon O Cuiv.

With regard to the debate around charging for entry to land, the minister told Green Party TD Dan Boyle there was a charge for entry to the zoo and to golf courses which were owned by somebody.

The best way forward was through a community-based approach, he said.

Irish Independent

Tuesday 24 April 2007

€1.2 billion record housing allocations for 2007

Mr. Noel Ahern, T.D., Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal has notified housing authorities of their financial allocations for their local authority housing programmes in 2007.

The 2007 exchequer allocations total almost €1.2 billion and will fund the following programmes -

* Provision of local authority housing - €1,013.000
* Improvement Works Programme - including Ballymun - €127.000
* Central Heating - €33.000
* Total - €1,173,000.

The allocation of over €1 billion for the provision of local authority housing provides for work in progress on over 8,300 housing units and for authorities to complete construction and acquire 5,500 houses this year - including new dwellings completed under regeneration projects.

Minister Ahern said - "The funding of €1 billion I am providing today to local authorities is the highest ever allocated for the main local authority housing construction and acquisition programme. Total funding is almost €1.2 billion when one includes the improvement works programme and central heating."

The Minister continued - "Local authorities are already aware of the substantial funding available for this and future years, for social housing and have been urged to press ahead with implementation of their programmes in order to commence as many projects as possible in the current year. I would anticipate that some 7,000 housing units should be started or acquired by local authorities in 2007 - including new units provided in regeneration projects such as Ballymun."

Record funding of €127 million is being provided to local authorities for improvement works relating to Regeneration projects and Remedial Works Schemes. The Minister said that the improvement works allocations include an amount of €65 million to fund the continued regeneration of Ballymun.

The Minister continued - "Substantial progress is now being achieved in the regeneration of Ballymun. It is anticipated that a further 400 houses will be completed this year and 300 new houses will be started. I am pleased that a total of over 1,000 new social housing units were completed up to the end of 2006 and that another 560 were under construction."

An amount of €37 million is being provided for refurbishment work under the Remedial Works Scheme. In addition, the Minister said - "I am making specific funding available of €25 million to seven urban authorities to undertake major regeneration work to a number of estates in their areas. I believe it is essential that local authorities tackle the problems in these estates and the funding I am making available is a testament of my commitment to improving the lives of the people in these estates."

These seven authorities are - Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Waterford City Councils, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Dundalk Town Council and Sligo Borough Council.

Finally, the Minister concluded by saying that, in addition to the €127 million provided for improvement works, local authorities now have delegated authority from this year to the use of proceeds from the sale of their dwellings under the Tenant Purchase Scheme, to fund planned programmes of improvement works to dwellings in their stock.

The Minister commented - "I anticipate that some €100 million will be expended nationally, this year, on improvement works programmes for local authority social housing from internal capital receipts. This represents additional expenditure over and above the allocations I have announced, which will go towards improving local authority housing stock."


The Quarter 4 2006 Housing Statistics Bulletin, on the number of social and affordable houses delivered in 2006 is published. It tells us how 2,198 units of social and affordable housing were provided under Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 – 2006 in 2006. This represents a 60% increase on 2005. A further 3,845 units were in progress at the end of 2006.

€100m jail to be built on Army land

A €100m-plus 'super-prison' to house 600 male and female inmates will be built on Army lands in Cork.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell revealed that the Cabinet has agreed in principle to the Kilworth location for the new jail over the long-favoured site on Spike Island. The Cork harbour island is expected to be developed as a multi-million euro tourism, leisure and heritage site.

Mr McDowell - who toured the Lynch Camp site in Kilworth last January - confirmed that he now expects work to begin shortly on the project. "The Cabinet has approved it in principle and we have had a survey of the land which has been adopted as suitable," he said.

The Kilworth 'super-prison' will eventually result in the shutdown of the ageing Cork Prison on Rathmore Rd and the transformation of Limerick Prison into a dedicated remand/short-term facility.

The proposed prison would be the largest new jail in the State.

"Cork Prison is overcrowded and conditions there, while it is a well-kept prison, are not up to modern standards and there is still slopping out taking place there," he added.

Mr McDowell said he had been impressed by the Kilworth site both in terms of the available land, access to the site and the local infrastructure.

Ralph Riegel
Irish Independent

Monday 23 April 2007

Irish Times writer fights club licence

'IRISH Times' environment editor Frank McDonald has objected to a night spot close to where he lives getting a song and dance licence.
In October last year, he was refused leave by a judge to object at District Court level to the licence being granted to the Peig Sayers Hotel Partnership, which trades as The Mezz, The Hub and The River House in Temple Bar, Dublin.
Mr McDonald, whose address was given in the Circuit Court yesterday as The Granary, Temple Lane South, has appealed to the Circuit Court on his own behalf and that of Granary Management, which manages The Granary.
© Irish Independent

Tesco fails in rezone bid for new store

RETAIL giant Tesco Ireland has failed in its bid to open a store in the only county currently without one of its outlets.
Frustrated county councillors have voted against rezoning a plot of land in Kilkenny which would have given Tesco a presence in every county in the State.
A number of councillors voted against a material contravention to their county development plan in protest after officials refused to allow a debate on the issue at a recent council meeting.
A planning application by Tesco Ireland for a large store outside Callan, Co Kilkenny, which would have created 100 jobs, has now been withdrawn and the company says it is reviewing its options with regard to Kilkenny.
The vote, which was expected to be carried unanimously, was rejected after councillors failed to return a three-quarters majority in favour of rezoning for the store.
The process was thrown into further disarray after three councillors went missing from the meeting as the vote was being held.
Two councillors abstained after Green Party councillor Malcolm Noonan was refused an open debate on the Tesco proposal.
Mr Noonan claimed he was not allowed to give his opinion on the issue and voted against rezoning the land at Callan on "ideological grounds".
"'This is about protecting the core of rural communities," said Mr Noonan.
wA spokesperson for Tesco Ireland told the Irish Independent: "We are reviewing our options with regard to Callan and Kilkenny".
It is expected that a fresh application by Tesco Ireland will come before the council in the coming months.
Dara deFaoite
© Irish Independent

Dingle sewage treatment plant may not be able cope with tourist influx

THERE are fears that An Daingean sewage treatment plant may not be able to cope with demands when the population grows hugely during the tourist season.
The plant is designed for a population equivalent of 8,600 people but, according to a Kerry County Council development plan for An Daingean, the peak load in July 2005 was 13,209 people. Also, because of the growth in housing and holiday homes, the plan says the treatment capacity of the plant could be “a constraint on new development in the short term”.
A local development group has written to the Environment Minister Dick Roche and EU Commissioner Stavros Dimas about the matter. In spite of the council’s concerns, no constraints are being applied to development in Dingle, according to Sean Brosnan, of Dingle Sustainable Development Group.
“For instance, planning permission has recently been granted for 76 housing units in the Grove. Planning permission had of course already been granted to scores of holiday homes now coming on stream, such as those on Greenmount, above the town,” he said in the letter. “We are concerned that the Dingle Wastewater Treatment Plant cannot cope in the summer and we have brought this concern to the attention of the Kerry County Council on a number of occasions.”
A report on the issue from the EPA is awaited.
The group has also called for a moratorium on the building of holiday homes in An Daingean until the sewage treatment plant issue is addressed.
“There are also other issues, such as the effects of holiday home developments on the price of general housing and on the landscape,” Mr Brosnan said.
A situation has been reached where some local people can no longer afford to build, or buy, houses in the area.
Councillors have rezoned a large amount of land for housing and holiday homes, against the advice of the county manager and planners. “They have gone so far as to move the town boundary for the sole purpose of encircling fields a mile away from town,” Mr Brosnan said. He has urged Mr Roche to “dezone” some of the land which has been rezoned in An Daingean.
Meanwhile, an excess of holiday homes is having a negative impact on the character of Gaeltacht villages west of An Daingean.
This is according to a new draft development plan for the West Kerry Gaeltacht which highlights an imbalance between a large number of holiday homes and houses occupied all year round by local people.
Senior planning engineer Tom Sheehy said holiday homes which were unoccupied for most of the year were a deterrent to locals wishing to live in villages. He also maintained enough land had been zoned for holiday homes in An Daingean to cater for the needs of the general area (58 acres with potential to provide for about 600 houses).
“This provision will satisfy the demand for holiday homes and maintain the economic benefits from tourism accommodation.”
Donal Hickey
© Irish Independent

EPA Hearing: Shell Mayo Terminal

Blame for the Corrib gas controversy was firmly laid on the doorstep of Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey and former minister Frank Fahey by an An Taisce member at thee Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) oral hearing into the issuing of an integrated pollution prevention licence (IPPC).
Leo Corcoran, a former Bord Gáis engineer, argued that the issuing of "dodgy consents" was the biggest mistake, and that the manner in which the project has been handled would never have been countenanced by Bord Gáis.
His claim that Shell was in breach of codes of practice adhered to throughout Europe was vigorously challenged by Shell's senior counsel, Esmonde Keane, who was accused by appellant Ed Moran of "using and abusing" court-room techniques in his cross-examination.
Mr Corcoran said there were significant differences between the Bellanaboy refinery and one at St Fergus, in Scotland, which was used as an evaluation basis by the EPA inspector who granted the conditional IPPC licence last January. The St Fergus refinery is located exactly on the coastline, has a short production pipe, is not adjacent to a water catchment area and is located in a specially designated area for oil development, he said.
He said the fact that a Shell expert witness, Dr Nigel Peters, a health, safety and environment consultant with the company, had refused to answer a key question was telling. Mr Corcoran had asked whether it would be acceptable
practice in Scotland to have instead located St Fergus adjacent to the nearby town of Peterhead, which, like Bellanaboy, is within a catchment area of drinking water for 10,000 people.
In his submission, Leo Corcoran said the Scottish Environment Protection Authority - "an organisation with considerable experience in licensing such facilities"- agreed the terminal should not be located within a drinking water catchment.
He quoted its head of water policy, Martin Marsden: "When consulted on the location of major industrial facilities, SEPA would normally recommend against placing such facilities at locations which could affect public drinking water."
Concerns about excessive aluminium levels in Carrowmore lake, the main drinking water supply for the Erris area, have been ongoing.
John Monaghan, a Shell to Sea campaigner, asked the hearing's chairman, Frank Clinton, if he was aware the company was regularly breaching its own limits on the site since October 2005.
Cross-examining Dr Peters, Micheál Ó Seighin revealed the company may have used a questionable statistic to gauge run-off impact from extreme rainfall within a 24-hour period.
"How could you base your figures on a catastrophic event [ the Pollathomas landslide in September 2003] from the Belmullet weather station. There was no rain in Belmullet that day; it was a spatially limited catastrophe," said Mr Ó Seighin. He added the statistic used was from Inver national school, which was not monitored properly.
He observed that while experts concerned themselves with possible failure, a community concerned itself with possible consequences.
Bríd McGarry, a landowner involved in Wednesday's High Court proceedings, claimed the vacating of the compulsory acquisition orders for the original pipeline route may have a legal bearing on the IPPC, since there is a conduit pipe which will now take a new route into the refinery.
Suggestions that Shell E&P Ireland held a series of formal consultation meetings with residents living near the Bellanaboy site regarding the decision to cold-vent the gas rather than flare it have been described as an "insult to the intelligence of the people".
Agnes McLaverty, of Shell, said there had been a series of public exhibitions in Rossport, Belmullet, Ballina and other areas where the issue of cold-venting and flaring was raised.
She was responding to the chairman of the hearing, Frank Clinton, who asked Shell representatives to provide detailed documentation of a consultation process it said it carried out with Mayo County Council and the community. She said they chose cold-venting to ease residents' concerns over the visual impact.
Cold-venting of gas, usually methane, entails its release directly into the environment without being burned.
However, appellants said that cold-venting was rarely mentioned at meetings and the majority of the people did not know what it was. One appellant, Anthony Irwin, claimed that the documentation cited by Shell as proof that it had conducted a consultation process was an "insult to the intelligence of the people". In his opinion, the main document issued for planning approval was incomplete and flawed.
The hearing resumes on Tuesday.
Áine Ryan, Anton McNulty & Lorna Siggins [Edited]
© 2007 The Irish Times

Rossport five man wins 'Nobel' prize for environment

A north Mayo farmer who was jailed over his opposition to the Corrib gas pipeline and an Icelandic businessman who lobbied the Government to implement the new ban on driftnetting for salmon are among six winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize.
Willie Corduff, one of the "Rossport five", and Orri Vigfusson of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund have been selected for Europe and for the islands and island nations respectively - the first time that the award has gone to Ireland, or an Irish-related campaign.
Along with winners from Peru, Mongolia, Zambia and Canada, they will be celebrated in San Francisco Opera House on Monday and will meet US congressional leaders as part of a series of functions in Washington DC next week.
Each winner of the prize, known as the "Nobel" of the environment, is awarded $125,000 (€92,000). It is endorsed by more than 100 heads of state and eight previous winners have been appointed to or elected to national office in their countries. The 1991 winner for Africa, Wangari Maathai, was also awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2004, and the late Nigerian writer, Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed with compatriots over his opposition to Shell's activities in Ogoniland in the Niger delta, received the award in 1995.
Mr Corduff said he did not start objecting to the Corrib gas pipeline to win prizes.
"It isn't about the money, it is about our health and safety and that of our children," the father of six, who is being accompanied by his wife, Mary, said.
He added that he hoped to use the money to help further the campaign, while acknowledging that his family had undergone considerable hardship since the Corrib gas developers - Shell, Statoil and Marathon - sought access to the couple's land.
Mr Corduff, and fellow landowners Philip McGrath, Bríd McGarry and Brendan Philbin were permitted by the High Court earlier this week to continue their counter-claims against Shell E&P Ireland, and the consents held by the project for the existing pipeline route must now be dropped.
The company, which says it is working on a modified pipeline route, must also pay legal costs associated with the injunctions which led to Mr Corduff's jailings.
Shell says it is studying the judgment.
Lorna Siggins
© The Irish Times

revor Sargent addresses Terminal 2 oral hearing.

Green Party Leader, Trevor Sargent, made an oral observation at the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing into Terminal 2 at the Radisson SAS Hotel (former Great Southern) at Dublin Airport on Friday 20 April 2007.

Mr Sargent said that as Leader of the Green Party and a Dáil representative for DublinNorth he was most concerned about the proper development of the area. He wanted to put his observations on the record because some important issues were not been given the consideration they deserved. He feared the airport decision was being made without a full knowledge and appreciation of the all the issues.

He felt, for example, that the Strategic Environmental Assessment that had been made of the development plans of Dublin Airport had not adequately addressed the issue of climate change, which was now an undeniable fact. "The best way that plan could contribute to reducing climate change would be to put a hold on the development of Dublin Airport. If there is an optimum size for Dublin Airport, what is it? As far as the people of St Margaret's and Portmarnock are concerned, we are already near that optimum," he said.

According to Mr Sargent, it was important for the country to meet its future needs to be carbon neutral. We had international responsibilities in that regard. This was no longer just a matter of the Kyoto protocol where aviation had managed to stay beneath the radar, but of the upcoming post-Kyoto agreement. This agreement will be more rigorous as far as aviation is concerned. He pointed out that: "we have only ten years in which to act to prevent the earth's temperature rising by 2 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial levels."

He said that no proper consideration was being given to unbalanced regional development. He noted that the proper development of Fingal should take account of the state of underdevelopment of the Western Seaboard as compared to the Eastern Seaboard. This should be done before proceeding with the further development of the Dublin area in a laissez-faire manner and exacerbating its many problems, including congestion and pollution.

He noted that: "there had been no Cost Benefit justification for these proposals. In
terms of 'Value for Money', it is not just an issue of government funds but of land and other resources that are in the custodianship of Dublin Airport. It should not be assumed that the land involved is a given, and is therefore free. Obviously we know that would not be so, if it were sold, given the price of land in the area."

Contacted later Mr Sargent said he believed that, on the evidence, the planned expansion of Dublin Airport was socially, economically and environmentally unsustainable. He also agreed with Professor Stern that climate change was the greatest market failure the world had seen, and that unless the costs of climate change were included in our assessment of development projects, this market failure would persist to the detriment of the humanity.

O'Leary and DAA in war of words over new terminal

RYANAIR chief executive Michael O'Leary has claimed that the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) effectively tried to "buy our silence" during the planning process for Dublin Airport's proposed second terminal by offering talks on building a third one for the airline.

The DAA has confirmed that high-level meetings regarding a third terminal took place between it and Ryanair last August.

However, it said that it strongly refuted O'Leary's allegation.

O'Leary claimed to the Sunday Tribune that, during these meetings, the DAA proposed to set up a working group examining the possibility of building a third terminal on the condition that Ryanair didn't lodge a planning objection against its Terminal 2 plans.

He said that the airline immediately rejected the proposal.

"It is a bit like getting involved in a hospital study group. You'd be sitting there studying it for the next 25 years with the DAA while they build a second terminal that costs four times what it should and doubles passenger charges."

The airline subsequently lodged an objection with Fingal County Council, which granted permission for the new terminal last October. Ryanair, An Taisce and local residents later appealed that decision to An Bord Pleanala. An oral hearing into the terminal is currently ongoing.

The airline has argued that the terminal is too expensive, is the wrong design and is in the wrong place. Last week, it threatened to freeze its expansion at the airport if it is approved.

A spokesman for the DAA claimed, however, that Ryanair raised the issue of a third terminal during the talks. He said that it was one of the preconditions that the airline had placed on its support for Terminal 2.

"The DAA agreed to support Ryanair on these issues but stressed that there were many planning and logistical barriers to the construction of a third terminal on the existing airport campus that would, at a minimum, delay its delivery until after 2011, " the spokesman claimed.

He also claimed that the DAA's discussions with the airline were part of an extensive consultation process which it carried out prior to lodging its planning application for Terminal 2.

He claimed that its talks with Ryanair came to an end when the airline "unilaterally terminated these discussions soon after the submission by the DAA of its planning application last August".

Sunday Tribune

Irish wave energy project buoyed by successful trials

AN IRISH company which has developed a revolutionary wave energy device is poised to capture a massive slice of the sector’s €200 billion global market.

Ocean Energy Ltd, based in Cork, is about to ramp up its multi-million euro product development following successful sea trials in Galway Bay of its OE Bouy wave energy convertor.

A quarter-scale model of the device, designed to harness the power of the sea, was moored a mile offshore, near Spiddal, on Christmas Day, and survived some of the roughest storms in almost 20 years.

Designed to cope with swells of five metres, it was battered by regular storm surges with waves measuring up to eight metres.

A force 11 storm on New Year’s Eve swamped the device with waves peaking at 8.2 metres.

Despite the extreme conditions, the scale model remained intact and passed all its tests with flying colours, company director, Mick Whelan said.

“About 2.2 million pieces of data were analysed proving the viability of the device,” he said.

The successful trials mean Ocean Energy can now move on to phase two of the development — installing turbines on the device to generate electricity.

The company was founded in 2002 by Michael Whelan and John McCarthy.

Mr Whelan has over 30 years of experience working in an offshore environment as a commercial diver and salvage expert operating his own towing and salvage company.

Mr McCarthy is an accountant by profession, with previous experience in the field of renewable energy.

“We want to put Ireland on the map for renewable energy. We want to be at the forefront of renewable energy technology,” Mr Whelan said.

“The potential spin-off in terms of jobs and wealth creation is incredible.”

The next phase of testing will begin in the coming weeks. Power output from the turbines will be measured over a period of about four months.

Mr Whelan said he is hopeful that they can move on to the production of a full-scale model before the end of the year.

The concept has been developed over the last two years by Ocean Energy in partnership with the Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre (HMRC) at University College Cork.

HMRC director, Dr Tony Lewis, praised the company’s slow and steady approach.

“Other companies around the world are engaged in this kind of research,” he said.

“But they are not testing each stage of development properly and now they are encountering problems that cannot be easily resolved.

“This project has completed a painstaking process of research and development to get us to where we are today.”

Mr Whelan said that a full-scale model, measuring 40 metres and weighing 650 tonnes, could generate enough energy to power 500 homes at peak.

How it works
The buoy is moored on the surface of the ocean, in areas where the water is between 30-50 metres deep, with a large horizontal tunnel below the surface.

Water pressure in the tunnel forces a column of water up into a vertical duct.

As the wave motion rocks the device, the water in the duct rises and falls, forcing air at speed out through a turbine.

The air spins the turbine’s fans which in turn generate electricity.

The power is transferred back to shore via underwater cables.

Dwellings of Ireland’s early settlers found

ARCHAEOLOGISTS may have discovered dwellings belonging to some of the earliest Irish settlers.

The remains of what could be two homes in a settlement, dating back about 6,000 years, have been discovered in north Cork.

A glimpse into the light of other days came during an archaeological study along a corridor earmarked for the new Fermoy-Mitchelstown road.

The likely dwelling sites were among a number of interesting discoveries.

Ken Hanley, an archaeologist with the National Roads Authority, said his team had uncovered evidence of Neolithic houses at Gortore and at Ballinglanna North, near Fermoy.

“While the dates of the rectangular house foundations have yet to be confirmed, it is anticipated that the houses would have been occupied some time between approximately 4000-3500 BC,” he said.

In addition, he said there was some evidence of transient occupation at Gortore, where some stone tools have been uncovered dating to approximately 5000 BC.

Archaeologists believe the site was probably occupied for short stays by a hunting/fishing group in the late Mesolithic period.

The site appears to have been then re-occupied on different occasions through the later prehistoric period.

The teams also found two bathing/cooking sites, pointing to Bronze Age times (2400 to 800 BC) at Kilshanny and Ballinglanna.

“At Ballinacarriga, two ring barrows suspected of being Bronze Age, were discovered. One appears to have contained cremated human bone held within an inverted pottery urn. This was accompanied by a ceramic food vessel,” Mr Hanley said.

“A circular enclosure, with a souterrain (an underground chamber for food storage and/or taking refuge), was also identified at Ballinacarriga. This is speculatively dated to the Early Medieval (approximately 500 to 1000 AD), pending radiocarbon dating.

Another likely Early Medieval site was excavated at Gortnahown. It consisted of an iron working site with accompanying huts,” the senior archaeologist said.

It will require an extensive programme of post-excavation analyses.

Mr Hanley said it was anticipated that the sites will be fully excavated by May or June, well before road construction works begin.

Irish Examiner