Saturday 30 June 2007

Dublin facing water shortage disaster

DUBLIN could be faced with a severe water shortage by 2050. And as a result, the capital may have to resort to water privatisation.

According to Dr Conor Murphy, a geography lecturer at NUI Maynooth, the capital will be the worst affected by the impact of global warming.

At present, Dublin relies heavily on rainfall - or surface-based resources - for its water supply.

If there is a large scale reduction in rainfall, this could have serious implications for that supply.

"The water supply of Dublin City is very vulnerable to climate change," said Dr Murphy.

"By 2050 we expected to see a 35pc reduction in the amount of surface water available and a population increase of 2.5 million."

"Both factors will have serious implications for Dublin, which relies heavily on surface based resources."

According to a 2003 EPA report conducted by Dr John Sweeney of NUI Maynooth, decreases in river, lake and reservoir levels are likely to occur over the next decade.

The report also pointed to dramatic changes in the rainfall pattern and temperature.

Winter rainfall will increase by up to 10pc while summer rainfall will decrease by up to 40pc in parts of the south and east coasts.

However, according to Dublin City Council, plans to carry out a feasibility study will not be expected until mid 2008.

According Dr Murphy, a twin-track approach is needed to stop the crisis or we will have to resort to water privatisation.

"Population growth coupled with climate change means that if this situation continues there is a real threat of privatisation."

Patricia McDonagh
Irish Independent

Friday 29 June 2007

An Bord Pleanala website updated

The An Bord Pleanala website - always a bit clunky - has been updated. It's much more user friendly now, worth a look for anyone interested (

Surpised to see a photo of a housing estate on the home page, but otherwise the site's functionality is upgraded and more visually accessible.

Tracking latest rail expansions

* NUMBER of Dart carriages has increased from 80 to 154 in past seven years.

* Dart trains are now eight carriages instead of six at peak times.

* Commuter rail carriages increased from 44 to 180.

* New Docklands station opened in March ahead of schedule, clearing the way for expansion of west Dublin commuter services.

* Work is under way on doubling the tracks on the Kildare line, opening up new high-frequency commuter services.

* New rail station opened at Adamstown in April to cater for thousands of new homeowners.

* New rail station at Phoenix Park almost completed. Due to open in September.

* Rail services between Dublin and Cork now run every hour, instead of less than every two hours.

* Some 183 high-speed rail carriages are being rolled out on the Dublin-Sligo route in August and shortly afterwards to all inter-urban destinations.

Irish Independent

Dempsey doesn't know date for Luas missing link

TRANSPORT Minister Noel Dempsey has admitted he does not know when the red and green Luas lines in Dublin will be joined up.

The lack of a link was "dividing up the city", Fine Gael transport spokesperson Olivia Mitchell told him.

She said the urgency of the matter could not be overstated.

Asked when the lines would be joined, Mr Dempsey said, "I do not know." The matter was not completely in his hands nor in those of the Rail Procurement Agency (RPA). There were outside agencies such as the city council which had to be consulted.

Ms Mitchell said it should be a "relatively simple project" to join the lines. The difficulties demonstrated the lack of any kind of a body in Dublin to coordinate decisions and ensure they were made.

The minister said he did not disagree with Ms Mitchell that greater coordination was needed.

That was why one of his first actions in the department had been to ask about the Dublin Transportation Authority legislation.

"I have indicated my wish to have it brought to Government as a matter of urgency and I hope we will have it in the House in the early stages of the autumn session," said Mr Dempsey. It would help expedite projects such as the Luas link line.

Ms Mitchell said she would welcome getting that legislation running and making the Dublin Transportation Authority a body "with teeth".

On delays caused by consulting outside bodies, she said it was time for the consultation to stop since it had been going on since 2005.

There should be no outside agencies but rather a single agency to drive matters ahead. It was essential that the trams could bring people right into the city centre and on to the south side.

The minister said preliminary results of the city council's traffic-modelling exercise were expected in the autumn.

The scheduled completion date for the overall project, including the cross-city link and subject to the statutory approval process, was 2012.

Geraldine Collins
Irish Independent

Buyer's €350,000 vanishes . . . into thin air

IN a move that echoes the mania at the height of the property boom, a developer has agreed to splash out €350,000 on a plot of air.

The unnamed developer's "unusual" buy is a tract of air between two period houses in Dublin's Sandycove. It came to the market courtesy of the owner of the access road between the houses.

The owner is retaining the road but selling the air above.

It could be developed - if an upper-storey structure were built between the houses and above the road.

The €350,000 price tag on the space of air raised some eyebrows when the property came to the market earlier this year. After all, the air came with no planning permission and the site's owner had bought the access road for just €20,000 in 2005.

However, estate agent Tom O'Higgins of Remax's Dun Laoghaire branch yesterday confirmed that the sale of the property was now agreed for a price "bang on the €350,000 mark".

The site could house a single-storey of 1,500 square feet, but any value to the new owner hinges entirely on securing planning permission for development.

Planning permission for unusual residential developments in south Dublin is notoriously hard to come by these days, and local people living near 21 and 22 Summerhill Road are expected to oppose any plans to develop there.

Mr O'Higgins said the site's buyer had been well aware that planning could be difficult to get. "He knows that a lengthy planning process is involved."

In a previous interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Jones said he was putting the site up for sale "to see what the market would hold at this stage".

Despite his considerable architectural experience he wouldn't consider developing the site himself because "that's not where I'm going with it at the moment".


This is an unusual opportunity to acquire a very well located property which has potential subject to planning permission to enhance and further develop.

This 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

Irish Independent

Thursday 28 June 2007

Interference in environmental issues angers 'light green' society

Resentment of the interference of Government and big corporations in environmental issues is contributing to a sense of frustration and a lack of trust across all sections of Irish societies, a major new study has concluded.
The study, carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, sought to draw on a cross-section of Irish society and included environmental activists, civil servants, teachers, large and small farmers, commuters, business people and the unemployed.
The findings are contained in Environmental Debates and the Public in Ireland , one of two books launched yesterday by the Institute of Public Administration.
Author Mary Kelly, a senior lecturer in sociology at University College, Dublin, said there was real sense of anger and disempowerment among local people on issues such as roads, incinerators and commercial projects like the Corrib gas pipeline.
"It was a discourse which pitted 'us', the 'little people', against 'them', 'the big boys', 'the money', especially used to characterise perceived alliances between political and economic interest groups," she said.
Ms Kelly said environmental awareness was becoming more mainstream in the last 15 years, but was surprisingly less prevalent among the under-25s than any other age group. Most people were now "light green", favouring both economic progress and environmental protection.
In Environmentalism in Ireland: Movement and Activists , author Hilary Tovey said the majority of those involved in the environmental movement are from families with a strong tradition of civic involvement. They are usually of a left-wing persuasion but not necessary from a middle-class background, she added.

Ronan McGreevy
© Irish Times

Native American Indians visit site of Corrib dispute

WHEN, in 1895, Glenamoy National School was built, chances are that the local north Mayo men who laid the bricks would never have imagined that, over 100 years into the future, that national school - now a community centre - would be playing host to a talk by native American Indians.
But it is the quirks of circumstance - the ongoing dispute about the Corrib gas project in particular - which, last week, brought an all-woman delegation from the Six Nations Reserve, Ontario, Canada to the isolated bogland of north Mayo, connecting once isolated areas to a global network of protest.
The Six Nations are part of an indigenous American group called the Haudenosaunee. In February last year they reclaimed forty acres of land which had been granted to them by the British in 1784 but sold, in 2005, by the Canadian government to a housing company.
Members of the Haudenosaunee set up camp on the land and stopped the bulldozers’ work. A representative from the site of the ongoing land reclamation, Kathy Garlow, said that every day there were confrontations. “Some of us gave up everything we had to stay on the site but that was not a problem because it was our land,” she said.
In April 2006, an armed raid by the Ontario Provincial Police failed to dislodge the people from the land. Although the 150 police used taser guns and arrested people they found sleeping in tents, hundreds of residents of the nearby indigenous reserve turned up and walked the police off the land. Following the raid, barricades were set up around the area on roads and rail lines that prevented any further police action, and severely disrupted the local area and a main national railway line. By June, the Canadian government announced it was buying the land back from the developers.
“Your countryside is very beautiful,” she said to those assembled in Glenamoy, “but if Shell comes through, it’s not going to be that way.”
She added that any protest must remain peaceful. “Being peaceful is also defending yourself. Maintaining a presence is probably the biggest thing,” she said.
One local Glenamoy woman said that it was like hearing “our own story”.
The Haudenosaunee women visited members of the Ross-port 5 and attended the morning protest at the gates of the proposed refinery at Bellanaboy on Thursday. Their tour also involved a meeting at the House of Commons in London with the All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group, as well as local communities, universities and schools.

Daniel Hickey
© Western People

Gormley pledges to release entire file on Lismullen site

Minister for the Environment John Gormley pledged to release to the media the entire file about the national monument found at Lismullen on the controversial M3 route near the Hill of Tara.
Mr Gormley told the Dáil he would release the file in the near future "to ensure the highest levels of transparency and accountability".
He also accused Fine Gael of "sour grapes" after the party's environment spokesman Fergus O'Dowd accused him of doing a U-turn on the routing of
the M3 motorway. Mr O'Dowd claimed Mr Gormley had "failed at the first hurdle" and that "his predecessor emasculated the Green Party by going against one of its core values". He added that Mr Gormley had stressed this core value before the election when he said "this controversial motorway must come to an end".
The Minister also announced the first meeting yesterday of a special committee formed at the recommendation of the director of the National Museum "to ensure excavation of the national monument at Lismullen is carried out to the highest and most transparent standard".
Fine Gael is in favour of the current approved route for the M3 but Mr O'Dowd raised the issue last night to highlight the Green Party's acceptance of the route since going into Government, while it was against it in Opposition. Mr Gormley, however, said that "had Fine Gael been in Government it would have insisted on the current route being followed. Fine Gael is not in Government and what we are hearing from it at present is sour grapes and nothing more."
The Fine Gael TD said the Green Party "has betrayed its base", and Mr Gormley had been left "to defend the indefensible from his party's point of view", after the decision by his predecessor Dick Roche to give the go ahead to the controversial route at Lismullen.
The Minister said he first heard of Mr Roche's decision in a text message while he was in the chamber on the day the Government was formed. He had subsequently examined the file on the Lismullen monument and that Mr Roche had followed procedures under current legislation.
The "unequivocal legal advice from the Attorney General" was that "without a change in the material circumstances relating to the newly discovered monument, it is not open to me to review or amend the directions given by my predecessor".

Marie O'Halloran
© 2007 The Irish Times

Gormley appoints critic to advise on Tara site

Minister for the Environment John Gormley has attempted to limit the embarrassment to the Greens over the destruction of a national monument on the route of the M3 at Lismullen by appointing a leading expert on the archaeology of Tara to advise on the excavation of the site.
The last-minute decision of his predecessor Dick Roche to sign an order permitting the road works to proceed after the excavation of the monument overshadowed Mr Gormley's appointment as a Minister.
He was initially criticised by the Opposition for not reversing the order and then for not challenging the advice he received from the Attorney General suggesting that he had no power to overturn it. The order allowed for the destruction of the monument after it had been excavated.
Mr Gormley has now appointed Conor Newman, a lecturer in archaeology at NUI Galway, to a special committee to advise on the excavation of the site which was uncovered during preparatory work for the M3.
Campaign group TaraWatch has welcomed the appointment.
Mr Newman is the author of Tara - An Archaeological Survey (RIA, 1996). In his submission to the oral hearing, he said the Hill of Tara was one of the most important and famous archaeological complexes in the world, and how it was treated would become "the yardstick against which our reputation as guardians of cultural heritage will be judged".
Mr Newman said that from the outset of the M3 project, the route now chosen "was identified as the least desirable from the archaeological point of view" and "the attrition rate on the archaeological heritage will be far greater here than for any other of the proposed routes".
The special committee, which had its first meeting yesterday, is chaired by Finian Matthews, principal officer with the National Monuments Service, and includes Prof Gabriel Cooney of the school of archaeology, UCD and representatives from the National Museum and the National Roads Authority.
The committee has been set up on the recommendation of Dr Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum.
The Minister said the committee would advise on how to ensure that the excavation is carried out to the highest and most transparent standard.
TaraWatch welcomed Mr Newman's appointment but called for his remit to be broadened to allow him to inspect the newly-discovered souterrain complex.
Spokesman Vincent Salafia said a second beehive souterrain chamber has been revealed, and the National Roads Authority could not deny the site is potentially a national monument.

Fiona Gartland & Stephen Collins
© 2007 The Irish Times

RTÉ appeals mast decision

RTÉ has appealed a decision by Kerry County Council to refuse planning permission to erect a 36-metre transmission mast on the Slieve Mish mountains.
The local authority has refused permission on the grounds that the mast would seriously injure the amenities of the area and the character of the landscape.
RTÉ said the mast would be used to provide digital television to Kerry viewers and it is a necessary upgrade of the old analogue transmission which is expected to be turned off by 2012.
The 36-metre lattice mast, containing a number of dishes, was to be located alongside existing television and mobile phone masts at Knockmoyle mountain, Killeenafinnane Slieve Mish. The location is a well-known beauty spot on a small road between Blennerville and Castle-maine.
In its application, RTÉ said that digital technology cannot be accommodated on the existing masts.
"This site could be described as being part of the backbone of the network and vital for Kerry transmission," the company argued.
The council received objections from local landowners who said that RTÉ had no permission to use their private roadway to access the location.
Following the council’s rejection of the application, RTÉ has referred the matter to the planning appeals board, An Bord Plean·la. A decision on the appeal is expected to be made by October of this year.
RTÉ said that failure to secure permission for the mast will prevent vital digital television services being transmitted and the company described the proposed mast as a vital cog in the RTÉ network.

Alan Healy
© The Kerryman

Another blow for Poolbeg waste plans

Plans to locate a municipal waste incinerator on the Poolbeg peninsula in Dublin received a further blow yesterday as MEPs indicated they were against the site selected by Dublin City Council.
The EU's Petitions Committee met Minister for the Environment John Gormley, city council officials and residents opposing the incinerator and visited the proposed site.
The delegation, which included Irish MEPs Proinsias De Rossa, Kathy Sinnott and Mairéad McGuinness, are investigating whether EU environmental legislation was breached during the site selection process.
The investigation was initiated by an appeal to the committee by Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews on behalf of local group Combined Residents Against Incineration (CRAI), which claims the site was selected on the basis of inaccurate information.
Mr Gormley said he was precluded from commenting on the proposed incinerator at present because it is the subject of a live planning application to An Bord Pleanála. However, Mr Gormley had, prior to the general election, appealed to the planning board against the project and has long been one of the strongest opponents of the incinerator.
The committee is due to make its recommendation to the EU Commission in September. The recommendation will also be forwarded to the Government. If it is determined that EU regulations have been broken, the commission can issue infringement proceedings, including an order to restart the site selection process.
Meanwhile, contaminated drinking water in Connemara and the environmental impact of the Corrib gas project were among issues raised at the EU Petitions Committee public meeting in the Ardilaun Hotel in Galway last night.
The meeting heard that over 1,300 people in Carraroe, Connemara, have been boiling or buying drinking water for over two decades. This is due to continued sewage contamination of the public supply.
Galway County Council has plans to upgrade sewage treatment, following a 2002 European Court of Justice ruling which found it to be in breach of the drinking water directive. However, the environmental impact statement for the upgrade has had to be re-advertised, due to a flaw in the tender.

Olivia Kelly & Lorna Siggins
© 2007 The Irish Times

Donegal councillors to relax rules for builders

Councillors have proposed significant changes to the Donegal county development plan in order to relax building restrictions in favour of developers.
A series of meetings began in Lifford last Monday after councillors called for a review of the plan which was adopted last August. A spokeswoman for the local branch of An Taisce said the proposals were "awful".
Monday's meeting between councillors and planners was held behind closed doors and the policy on urban housing was the main topic. The contentious holiday home issue is to be discussed in the coming weeks.
The existing urban housing policy stipulates that developers must demonstrate how housing developments contribute to the future infrastructure and services of a town or village.
A quota system is in place to protect villages from over-development.
"We talked about increasing the quota system," said one councillor. "The council will carry out a survey of each village to establish its housing capacity, then developers can be approached with a view to providing services such as water, sewerage, footpaths and roads."
Councillors are also proposing to relax restrictions on building houses in rural areas and, in addition, a "small builder policy" is being proposed.
Planners have been asked to insert a policy in the plan so that small builders will be allowed to build one-off houses and small housing schemes in rural areas.
It is also proposed to relax restrictions on "ribbon development" and to support "resource-related tourism product development" alongside holiday homes in rural areas.

Cronan Scanlon
© 2007 The Irish Times

EU laws must be upheld, say Greens

The Green Party has said EU anti-discrimination laws must be upheld, following a European Commission ruling against Irish local authorities' practice of restricting planning permission to locals or fluent Irish speakers.
Minister for the Environment John Gormley had not yet received the commission's letter yesterday and his department said it would not be commenting on the ruling until official notification was received.
However, Mr Gormley's party has said its position is that while it does not favour unplanned haphazard development, EU laws guaranteeing equal treatment must be respected.
The EU has ordered Ireland to explain why 23 authorities discriminate in favour of local people. After months of examining the issue, officials believe the rules break articles 43 and 56 of the EC treaty which guarantees freedom of establishment and the free movement of capital.
They examined planning rules in Carlow, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Fingal, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Laois, Longford, Limerick, Louth, Offaly, Sligo, Tipperary north and south, Wexford, Westmeath and Wicklow.
These authorities require either residency or family ties to the area before giving permission for one-off houses. Several authorities require that an applicant be employed locally in agriculture.
Mr Gormley has two months to respond to the letter which states: "The commission requests observations from Ireland on the discriminatory aspects of the restrictions, their objectives, and the proportionality of the measures with the objectives pursued." The Green Party yesterday said there was a "fundamental dilemma" because the demand for rural housing vastly outstripped infrastructure and services capacity and unplanned urban sprawl could not be tolerated, but EU laws could not be ignored.
Local authorities yesterday said they would be studying the EU ruling to assess its implications.

Olivia Kelly
© 2007 The Irish Times

Gormley heard of Roche's decision 'by text'

ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley first heard about his predecessor Dick Roche's controversial decison on the Lismullen monument near Tara by text message.

He was sitting in the chamber on the first day of the new Dail.

"Neither I nor any of my party colleagues had any prior contact with Mr Roche on this issue," he said.

The decision means that archaeologists will record the monument before it is built over for the M3 motorway.

The minister said that he had examined the department file regarding the directions given to the National Roads Authority on the Lismullen monument and that Mr Roche "followed the procedures prescribed under the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 2004".

He said the unequivocal legal advice from the Attorney General to him is that he cannot amend or review the decision made by his predecessor.

Fine Gael TD Fergus O'Dowd, who raised the issue in the Dail and said his party were supporting the selected route of the M3, criticised the Green Party, saying it had "betrayed its base" on the issue.

However, Mr Gormley said that all he was hearing from Fine Gael was "sour grapes and nothing more" because they were not in government.

He always had the impression that Fine Gael was totally committed to building the road through the Tara-Skryne valley and Mr O'Dowd had confirmed it, he said.

Meanwhile, the special committee established to ensure that excavation of the monument at Lismullen was carried out to the highest and most transparent standard, met yesterday for the first time.

Mr Gormley appointed Dr Conor Newman of the Department of Archaeology at NUI Galway, who is recognised as an expert on Tara, to the committee, which also includes Dr Pat Wallace of the National Museum, Prof Garbiel Cooney, head of archaeology at UCD, and the National Roads Authority.

The minister said he would soon release the file on Lismullen to the media to ensure the highest levels of transparency.

Geraldine Collins
Irish Independent

We're going underground

A NEW €1.3bn tunnel vision for Dublin being unveiled today might raise more than a few sceptical eyebrows and even hearty laughs from stressed-out commuters.

It involves an underground DART running 5.3km in a giant tunnel under the River Liffey between Heuston Station and the Docklands, with stops along the way.

Commuters would be able to take the DART underground through the heart of Dublin city to Christchurch Cathedral.

Throw in DART extensions to Maynooth and Dunboyne and, hey presto, 100 million commuter journeys will have been made by trains instead of cars.

But will it be that simple?

The track record for major infrastructure projects here has not been good. We have two Luas lines that don't meet and massive cost over-runs and delays that clobbered the Luas and Port Tunnel projects, while chronic overcrowding on trains drives commuters round the twist at peak times.

An official project being unveiled today by Iarnrod Eireann and due to go before Bord Pleanala for approval may appear to many to be yet another pipedream.

Like the buses and trains, we wait ages for one, and then along come two or three. We have a raft of plans for Metros and new Luas lines - and now an underground DART through the heart of the city centre under the River Liffey.

Commuters will be waiting anxiously to see if there is light at the end of the tunnel vision for 2015.

However, rail bosses are adamant that the biggest infrastructural project since the Port Tunnel will actually happen, possibly even sooner than the target completion date of 2015.

And the track record of Iarnrod Eireann in delivering new infrastructure and expanding rail services has been very good of late.

The money is there and the underground DART tunnel under the Liffey between Heuston and the Docklands goes out to public consultation today.

Iarnrod Eireann will lodge a formal planning application with Bord Pleanala and start building it in 2010 after the usual Irish-style planning wrangles and compensation claims are sorted.


The underground DART will run from Heuston Station to Christchurch, on to St Stephen's Green, through Pearse Station, under the Liffey before linking up with the new Docklands station beside Connolly.

The line involves:

* Northern line DART services from Balbriggan and Howth, which will branch off the existing line after Clontarf Road.

* It goes underground at Docklands Station where it connects with the Luas line from Tallaght.

* It continues to Pearse, connecting with what will be the Maynooth to Bray DART line.

* It moves on to St Stephen's Green where it connects with the Luas line from Sandyford and the Metro to the airport.

* The line continues underground to Christchurch and Heuston, linking again with the Tallaght Luas, and intercity and commuter rail services before moving above ground to Hazelhatch in Kildare.

The line will quadruple city rail capacity from the present 25 million passenger journeys annually to over 100 million.

Funding for the ambitious project has been committed by the Government in the Transport 21 programme.

The new line will dramatically increase frequency and capacity for commuters on DART Northern, Maynooth and Kildare lines.

The plan includes the extension of the DART to Maynooth, Hazelhatch and Dunboyne.

Rail chiefs are gambling that it will be the single most important piece of infrastructure to convince people to move from their cars to public transport.

Crucially, the new city centre DART underground will link DART, commuter rail, Intercity, Luas and Metro to form an integrated network.

Iarnrod Eireann have yet to decide whether to locate the station directly beneath the River Liffey at the Docklands, with station entrances from both the north and south quays.

Plans for the DART Underground - to be called Dublin's Interconnector - are going on display to allow the public to view station options and routes.

Open days are being held at Dublin City Council's civic offices at Wood Quay on July 3 and 4.

Barry Kenny, Iarnrod Eireann spokesman, said yesterday that the tunnel from Docklands to Heuston Station would complete the transformation of the Greater Dublin area's rail-service capacity.

The Dart station for Christchurch will be located on the High Street area, with three alternative sites on view for the public.

Treacy Hogan
Irish Independent

Department fails to respond to Lough Lein pollution plan

THE Department of the Environment has, for almost three years, failed to respond to a proposal to extend the public sewer in Killarney to the heavily populated environs of the town.

A sewer extension is seen as essential to tackle serious pollution problems in Lough Lein. At present, thousands of one-off houses, as well as several bed and breakfasts and some hotels, in the immediate surrounds of Killarney, are dependent on septic tanks.

Poorly maintained septic tanks are among the chief causes of polluting matter ending up in picture-postcard Lough Lein, according to engineering surveys.

The issue was highlighted, yesterday, at a Kerry County Council meeting for the Killarney area.

Three councillors — Michael Gleeson, Brendan Cronin and Danny Healy-Rae — had separate motions down calling for a sewer extension to the Tralee Road, Aghadoe and Lissivigeen areas.

Kathleen O’Regan Sheppard, who led a deputation of Tralee Road residents to the meeting, asked Mr Healy-Rae to refer the matter to his father, Independent TD Jackie-Healy-Rae, with a view to getting government support.

Tralee Road people had been looking for an extension for 20 years, she said.

Sanitary services engineer Paul Cremin said a brief for a major extension of the sewer — to be known as the Killarney main Drainage Project — had been submitted to the Department of the Environment for approval, in October 2004.

The green light had not yet been granted, but he is being told by the department that approval may be given by the end of this month.

“Once we get approval we will not be found wanting and we will have resources in place,” Mr Cremin added.

The scheme would cater for the expanded urban area of Killarney and surrounding areas including Kilcummin, Beaufort, Lissivigeen, Scartlea, Tralee Road, Tiernaboul, Ballymaunagh and Aghadoe.

Ms O’Regan Sheppard hit out at what she described as a lack of a “can do” attitude in local government.

“It’s incredible that there’s been no follow-through on this urgently needed extension since 2004. Private enterprise would go to the wall if it behaved in that way.”

Ms O’Regan Sheppard urged councillors to continue pressing the Department.

Mr Gleeson, who chaired the meeting, said he could not over-emphasise the importance of the sewer extension which was vital for the “salvation of our lakes”.

Irish Examiner

Wednesday 27 June 2007

EU study to put brakes on super-jail

CONSTRUCTION of a super prison in north Dublin could be delayed because the EU Commission wants a detailed assessment conducted on the impact it would have on the environment and local community.

If the Government is forced to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), as required by EU law, it could delay construction of the jail by a year - and could sound the death knell for the ambitious plans.

There was confusion last night among the state agencies involved in the prison development as to what was required to meet EU rules.

The Departments of Justice and Environment, and the Irish Prison Service, disagreed on what measures were needed to carry out a full investigation of the site and satisfy the EU.

Fine Gael Justice spokesman Jim O'Keeffe said Justice Minister Brian Lenihan needed to clarify the position.

"The whole situation seems mired in confusion," he said. "I've been worried about this from the beginning, and I don't want this compounded by total bureaucratic confusion and possibly the courts. They need to clarify the position," he said. An EIA measures the impact major developments have on roads, wildlife, water and the local community.

The lengthy study can take up to a year and it could find that the proposed site is unsuitable. If so, the project might have to be scrapped.

Paul Melia
Irish Independent

Rural housing policies illegal

Over the last two weeks I have received about three calls a day from people asking if the locals only rules in Development Plans in Wexford and Wicklow had been removed. I have also spoken to people who have been refused planning permission on these grounds. All were hoping the rules would be found to be illegal and descriminatory. They have been, but where to next?

Debate about one-off houses is sure to grow to a crescendo now. The basis of how the National Spatial Strategy, Regional Planning Guidelines, Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines and many Development Plans treat rural housing as a policy issue will now need to be reviewed.

Given the extent to which this is being discussed on the ground illustrates how emotive this issue has become over many years. I look forward to watching this issue unfold.

'Locals only' planning rule illegal and discriminatory, says EU

THE controversial 'locals only' and 'must speak Irish' planning rules have been challenged by the EU as illegal and discriminatory.

A landmark EU ruling yesterday will test the Fianna Fail/Greens coalition as the parties are poles apart on the issue of one-off houses in the countryside.

The move will put serious pressure on 22 local authorities to abandon their 'locals only' policies when granting planning permissions.

The EU ordered Ireland to explain why the 22 authorities discriminate in favour of local people.

The EU Commission has written to the Department of Environment asking it to show how its 'local needs' rules do not break several internal-market rules and are not discriminatory.

After months of examining the issue, officials believe the rules break articles 43 and 56 of the EC Treaty which guarantee freedom of establishment and the free movement of capital.

They examined planning rules in Carlow, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Fingal, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Laois, Longford, Limerick, Louth, Offaly, Sligo, Tipperary North and South, Wexford, Westmeath and Wicklow.

These authorities require either residency or family ties to the area before permission for one-off family dwellings is given.

Several authorities require that an applicant be employed locally in agriculture while two counties can insist that an applicant must speak Irish.

The vast majority of EU citizens were unable to claim former residency, family ties or fluency in Irish, said a Commission official.

A 'letter of formal notice' asking how Ireland reconciles the rules with EU law has been sent to Environment Minister John Gormley, who has two months in which to respond.

The letter says: "The Commission requests observations from Ireland on the discriminatory aspects of the restrictions, their objectives, and the proportionality of the measures with the objectives pursued."

The issue is expected to provide one of the first of many expected tests of the Fianna Fail-Green partnership.

Within Fianna Fail many members believe people should be allowed to build on their own land as they see fit while the Green Party favours regulated, sustainable development.

One councillor admitted last night that his local authority was going to have to "revisit" the issue of planning permission to ensure it was not at variance with EU law.

Cllr Dermot Connolly, a member of Galway County Council, said he believed that the EU did not always have the best interests of regions and cultures at hand.

Mr Connolly said local authorities had to have practical measures in place to ensure cultures continued to flourish.

Last year, councillors agreed to make changes to the Galway County Development Plan which meant people in large sections of the county no longer had to fulfil stringent "local" rules when applying for planning permission for a family home.

In Clare, the development plan favours local rural people applying for planning permission.

West Clare councillor PJ Kelly, a member of Clare County Council, said the use of 'locals only' was a controlling mechanism by planners.

Mr Kelly said he agreed with the EU decision and he would be bringing up the issue of revamping the planning laws with the council.

"It's replacement will have to be intelligent, workable, functional and respectable," he said.

Mr Kelly said the moves to restrict planning to locals or Irish speakers had brought the system into disrepute.

In 2005, the Law Society warned that county councils discriminating in favour of family members over planning permissions for one-off rural housing were breaking the law.

The law reform committee of the society informed the Department of the Environment that positive discrimination in some cases breached the Constitution and EU law.

Bernard Purcell and Treacy Hogan
Irish Independent

Hotel opens doors to public after €50m revamp

QUEEN Victoria had a 16-course breakfast there and old blue eyes Frank Sinatra reportedly downed many a pint in its bar.

Michael Collins is believed to have hidden out in room 210 there with Kitty Kiernan while his 'Squad' killed the British G men on Bloody Sunday.

And yesterday, after a three-year absence, the public could once again walk the hallowed halls of Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire.

In operation since 1828, the hotel closed its doors in 2004 in preparation for an extensive re-development project costing €50m.

The hotel now has 228 bedrooms, an increase of more than 120.

The 4-star hotel also features new conferencing facilities and a leisure centre, including an 18-meter pool. Diners will still be able to experience the most infamous feature of the hotel, the Bay Lounge which housed many celebrities including Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy.

The hotel's loyal clientele gave the makeover the thumbs-up, marketing manager Adrian Malloy said. "The feedback has been extremely positive," he said.

"Many old customers have been delighted that many of the old features have stayed."

Plans for the refurbishment were originally dogged by complaints from An Taisce in 2005.

In an appeal to An Bord Pleanala, it warned that the proposed development would detract from the visual prominence of the protected structure.

Residents of George's Street also made complaints against the refurbishment by developer William Neville and Sons who bought the property for IR£22m in 2001.

However, the planning body ordered only two changes to be made to the original plans - the omission of some balconies and an order to set the new bedroom block further back from the western boundary.

The refurbishment actually brought back many features previously lost, according to Mr Malloy.

"We have kept original features, including the bay lounge. But one of the best kept secrets about this whole development is the return of the Mansard roof.

"The ornate roof had been knocked down in the 1900s," said Mr Malloy, "if you look at the old pictures you see the roof is flat. Now it's back to its former glory."

Patricia McDonagh
Irish Independent

Tuesday 26 June 2007

Seabed survey highlights Kerry’s Ice Age history

A MAJOR survey of the Kerry seabed, conducted by a leading research institute, has discovered previously unknown underwater formations off the Dingle Peninsula.
The research vessel Celtic Explorer examined the seabed to the north of the Dingle Peninsula and west of Kerry Head using hi-tech sonar mapping technology and it was working between the Three Sisters by Smerwick Harbour and Brandon Head up until early June.
Initial results have identified a series of previously unknown seafloor features, including an offshore ridge extending in a north westerly direction off the north shore of the Dingle peninsula.
The ridge is five metres high and one kilometre wide with a traceable length of over 10 kilometres. The notable discovery believed to be a glacial feature and possibly a terminal moraine, marks the front of a glacier where rock debris, which was carried along by glacial melt water, was deposited.
The ridge has been dubbed the Slava Ridge after the scientist on the survey who first noted it.
Another prominent feature of the area, according to the researchers, is a 500m to 600m wide trench-like feature, dubbed the Brendan Trench, which orientated east-west and parallel with the shore stretching over 40km. The trench is between 15 and 25m deep and located only 300 to 400m off the coast.
It has been interpreted by the geologists onboard as the seafloor traces of a major geological fault zone. The survey also identified 10 seafloor sediment regions which suggests the presence of a variety of different seafloor ecosystems and the researchers also located six possible wrecks which they are comparing against a list of know wrecks in the area.
This survey was the first such programme since the area was first mapped in the 1800s.

Alan Healy
©The Kingdom

Groups join forces to fight plan for super dump on water site

A GROUP opposing plans to drain billions of gallons of water from the River Shannon to feed Dublin's water supply has teamed up with a Dublin-based organisation who claim the solution to the capital's water problems lie right under their feet.
Members of the Shannon Protection Alliance have joined forces with a group of Dublin activists, who are fighting plans by Fingal County Council to build a super dump on top of an aquifer, which they claim could supply fresh water to the entire Dublin area.
Both groups say they will "vehemently oppose any move by either Dublin City or Fingal County Council to destroy the economy, environment and future sustainability of the Shannon and north Dublin regions".
"It's horrendous that while one Dublin authority wants to import water from over 100 miles away, another is working to destroy a perfectly fine water supply on its doorstep with an enormous landfill," said Gemma Larkin, of the Lusk Nevitt Action Group.
Concerned residents and Fingal County Council are currently awaiting results of an An Bord Pleanala oral hearing on whether plans for a 650-acre super dump at Lusk, Co Dublin, will get the go ahead.
Local Green Party TD and newly appointed junior minister Trevor Sargent is supporting the action group and has himself lodged objections to the proposed super dump.
"The threat of a super dump on this site highlights the lack of consideration for water sources in the country," said Mr Sargent.
"The issue of taking water from the Midlands to supply Dublin also shows up the failure of successive authorities to put a water conservation strategy in place.
"There seems to be a greater focus on where to find new water sources rather than where can we conserve existing supplies," said Mr Sargent.
PJ Walsh, of the Shannon Protection Alliance, said: "Any attempt to extract even one drop of water from Lough Ree or the Shannon will be strenuously opposed."
Dublin City Council (DCC) have set out plans to extract up to 127-billion litres a year from Lough Ree to feed the capital's ailing water supply by 2016.
But Mr Walsh claims this would reduce the volume of Lough Ree, Ireland's largest lake, by 20pc per year and would destroy the local economies of at least 10 counties. "We're not going to compromise one iota on this matter," he said.

Dara deFaoite
© Irish Independent

An Taisce's financial position 'of great concern' as new Chairman appointed

appointed a new chairman to help tackle its financial difficulties.
Charles Stanley-Smith was appointed chairman after a ballot for the position at the organisation's annual general meeting in Galway on Saturday.
Mr Stanley-Smith, a businessman from north Tipperary, took the position from the second candidate, Frank Corcoran, who had been chairman for the previous three years.
The financial position of An Taisce is of "great concern" following a reduction in membership subscriptions by more than 40 per cent in the last two years, its annual general meeting was told.
Eric Conroy, honorary treasurer of the environment and heritage protection told members at its agm in Galway that fundraising must be a key priority for the management board in the coming year. He says it is disappointing to
report on the ongoing fall in membership subscription, down from €116,000 in 2004 to €68,000 in 2006.
It has 12 properties under its protection including Booterstown Marsh in south Dublin, Kanturk Castle in Cork, Gort Weigh House in Galway and An Taisce headquarters at Tailor's Hall in Dublin.
Income from the organisation's education unit, which includes the Blue Flag and Green School projects, has dropped from a high of €140,000 in 2005 to €100,000 last year.
An Taisce's largest running cost relates to its staff: it has 21 full- and part-time employees and last year salaries, wages and pensions amounted to €107,868, almost 50 per cent of the organisation's costs.
An Taisce's corporate sponsorship includes Greenstar, Repak, Coca Cola Ireland, the Wrigley Company and the EU. Some support is received from local authorities, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Dublin Transportation Office.
In 2006, the organisation made a small surplus, mainly attributable to a legacy bequest of more than €120,000. If it had not been made, An Taisce would have been in "very difficult financial territory".
Mr Stanley-Smith has served as chairman of the education unit in An Taisce in the past and has been a member of the organisation's council.
He currently works as an IT consultant and was the founder of the software company Piercom. He has also served on the Information Society Commission, which advised the Government on information technology policies in Ireland.
Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Stanley-Smith said he was pleased and honoured to be elected chairman of the organisation. He said that An Taisce was much like a small company and he wanted to bring some business organisation to it.
"In the next couple of weeks I want to put together a wide-ranging team, steady the ship and see what we should do thereafter."
He said that the drop in funding was partly due to the non-collection of subscriptions and he emphasised the fact that people could now pay online.
"We will be keeping a close eye on expenditure. It is tight, but we believe it is moving in the right direction," he said.
Mr Stanley-Smith highlighted the successes of An Taisce, particularly the Green Schools initiative.
"There are 22,000 Green Schools in the world; 2,500 of those are in Ireland," he said. "We run the most successful Green Schools initiative in the world."
He said that the Government appeared to be taking environmental issues more seriously and he would be looking for an opportunity to speak with John Gormley, the new Minister for the Environment.
"We are not here to tell anyone what to do, but we are always hopeful that we can help," he said.

Fiona Gartland
© 2007 The Irish Times

Lakes contain 20 times cancer toxin limit

IRISH lakes have been found to contain 20 times the recommended World Health Organisation limit of certain cancer-causing toxins — and water purification in this country may not be strong enough to get rid of them.
Researchers from Cork Institute of Technology, backed by the Environmental Protection Agency, studied lake waters and found microcystins which they said can cause “diarrhoea, vomiting, weakness and pallor” and even death in high doses. They can also cause liver cancer, yet are not covered by Irish drinking water regulations, meaning there is no requirement to test for them.
Ambrose Furey, a supervisor of the research, said the tests carried out by the team only related to the water in lakes and reservoirs. Water is treated before it goes from that stage to the tap.
However, he said there is a concern that the level of chlorine currently in Irish waters may be as much as 10 times less than the level necessary to eradicate the toxic microcystins.
The researchers are now hoping to secure funding from the Environmental Protection Agency to spend the next 12 months testing drinking water in every county in Ireland to establish if there is any presence of microcystins in drinking supplies.
They are also advising the Government to begin regulating toxin tests.
“You have to be aware that they are present at certain times of the year and you should test for them,” he said, adding that the bloom is particularly prevalent in summer months.
Mr Furey said water which has evidence of algae blooms which indicate the toxin needs to be tested immediately.
If there are high levels of the toxin in the water it should be left for at least two-to-three weeks and tested again before it is processed for drinking water.
“If you had a larger bloom, the chlorine that exists at the moment would not be enough to decompose the toxin,” he said.
Mr Furey said it also needs to be established how long water is in the reservoir or lake before it is processed, because if it is only there a short time, the chlorine level would have to be higher to rid the drinking water of toxins.
The only study of human drinking water contaminated by microcystins was carried out in China and found that levels of liver cancer there were seven times higher that normal.
Earlier this month, the Irish Government introduced revised regulations which would see local authorities facing prosecution and fines as stiff as €500,000 if they fail to maintain EU drinking water standards.

Stephen Rogers
© Irish Examiner

NRA disputes new Tara monument find on M3

A claim by the lobby group campaigning against the development of the M3 near the Hill of Tara that another potential national monument had been discovered in the path of the motorway has been denied by the National Roads Authority.
In a statement TaraWatch said that archaeologists working for the NRA had uncovered two stone souterrains, or underground structures, approximately 10 metres apart.
Cap stones have been removed and it is possible to see down into one of the chambers, according to TaraWatch.
However, the roads authority said at the weekend that the discovery was not a new one and involved features quite commonly found around the country.
A "souterrain" refers to an underground chamber, often found in the late Iron Age. Activists claim there may be many more underground chambers and passages as the area is being excavated for the first time.
The site lies approximately 80m northwest of the recently discovered henge in Lismullen, which was declared a national monument by Minister Roche.
TaraWatch claimed they had secured the area and would "protect" it by forming a circle around the site while reports are made to the National Museum and the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley.
The campaign group believes the find may constitute a "material change in circumstances", which the Minister said he would need before revisiting the issue of whether or not to reroute the M3 motorway.
The organisation has called for all work to cease immediately and said this is the case when a national monument is discovered during the course of roadworks, according to section 14 of the National Monuments Act.
The legislation also requires that the monument must be reported to the Minister for the Environment.
TaraWatch learned of the site while inspecting excavations on Friday evening, after archaeologists went home and left the site unguarded.
Laura Grealish of TaraWatch said that "this is a spectacular underground complex of chambers and connecting passages, with very high quality stonework". Vincent Salafia, also of TaraWatch pointed out that "we are reporting this discovery to the Minister and the National Museum this morning".
"We want to know if the National Roads Authority reported the discovery to the Minister or the museum, and if not, why not? The site is without doubt a significant new national monument."
Meanwhile, the National Roads Authority is becoming embroiled in a wider controversy about its proposal to take over responsibility for more of the roadways around the country
Hitherto, the NRA has only maintained responsibility for all the major national routes.
Details of the latest move, circulated to local authorities, were revealed during the past week in Co Monaghan.
It has led to a decision by local councillors to lodge a strong protest this week with the newly appointed Ministers for Transport and Environment.

© 2007 The Irish Times

Rezone plans put on hold by officials

MOVES by politicians to rezone large tracts of land for housing near Adare are still on hold following the intervention of Limerick County Council planners.

The elected members of the council who have the power to rezone land favour opening up more sites near the village for housing.

However, the council officials ordered a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) fearing over-development could environmentally damage the picture postcard heritage village.

One prized half-acre site was sold last year near the village for €1.3 million.

Auctioneers say an acre located within 10 minutes walk of the village would be worth up to €1m — twice the going rate in adjoining villages.

Councillor Richard Butler who along with other local councils favours rezoning said: “If you starve a community of development land, you will increase the price of it. The council are creating an expensive market which it should not be. Locals are being blown out of the market.

“Even 12 of the local hurling team have to live outside Adare. Young couples form Adare have to move to places such as Newcastle West as they can’t get sites and due to the lack of housing land houses are too expensive when they do come on the market. We are supporting the rezoning of three separate parcels of land.”

He said the council planners were using the SEA as “a stalling mechanism”.

The elected members have an agreement if representatives from one electoral area back a rezoning proposal, all the other councillors support the proposal.

Among those eager to cash in on local land values is the GAA club.

The club has applied to the council to have its five acre playing ground re-zoned for housing.

The plan is to sell it off and use the money to build a bigger facility further out.

Due to increased membership the club says it has a space crisis in its present location.

Limerick County Council planners do not want to see the population of Adare — at 1,300 — rise beyond 3,000 so that the village does not lose its traditional character.

At present the council owns 20 aces of undeveloped land in Adare and does not want any new rezoning to go beyond 75 acres.

The elected members will not be able to press ahead with their proposals until the Strategic Environmental Assessment is finalised and submitted to County Hall for consideration.

Irish Examiner

Residents ready for court battle to save estate’s green from developers

The people of Bishopscourt in Cork’s western suburbs agreed over the weekend to hire a solicitor to ensure the green space that has put up for sale can never be built on.

The green, which has been used as a public park since the mid-1960s, was placed on the market last week as part of the sale of Number 1, Park Gate Villas on the Bishopstown Road.

Residents were shocked when they learned that title to the green, which they have maintained since the estate was built in the late 1960s, was included in the title to the house, which stands on the corner of the 1.6-acre site.

Property sources have suggested the site could be worth up to €5 million if its new owners secured planning permission on the site.

But at a public meeting at the weekend, residents said the estate’s developer, Denis J McCarthy, provided the green as a public amenity in 1966.

He bought a 10-acre field from the Society of African Missions and drew up plans for the 67-house Bishopscourt Estate.

As part of the plan, he set aside just over one acre as public open space and built concrete paths across it.

Local resident Jim Collins said that even if the green has not been taken over by the council, the spirit of Mr McCarthy’s intention should still be honoured: ‘‘I have no problem with the house sale, but the green must be saved. It is an integral part of our estate.

‘‘I could have bought a bigger house elsewhere in Bishopstown at the time but I chose to buy this house because of the layout of the estate and the green.

‘‘He (Mr McCarthy) has provided the residents’ association with documents he got when he bought his house which shows the green as public open space.

‘‘If we have to go the courts, we have plenty of money to do that and we’ll go to court.”

Kevin Terry, the city council’s head of planning, confirmed last night that while the green does not have any specific zoning designation, there is a presumption against development on such sites.

City manager Joe Gavin has also said that while any new owner of the site could apply for planning permission, the fact the site has been used as a public park for almost four decades would be taken into account by planners when arriving at a decision.

Irish Examiner

Traffic issues to determine €30m town project

A NUMBER of key traffic issues will have to be resolved in Tralee before a €30 million project goes to the planning stage, it emerged yesterday.

Proposals have been drafted for a conference and exhibition centre at Fels Point, Tralee. Behind the venture is developer Liam Carroll, owner of the Fels Point Hotel.

Tralee, however, has chronic traffic/parking problems and measures will have to be introduced to improve the situation.

Recently, traffic in Tralee was almost brought to a standstill when about 2,000 farmers came to town for the annual meeting of Kerry Co-op.

There are plans for a ring road but it looks as if it will not be built for many years to come. Members of Tralee Town Council have been shown Mr Carroll’s plans which are for a site next to the hotel.

The three-storey complex would include a 3,800-seat conference and entertainment centre, which would be capable of drawing high profile events.

It is also possible the annual Rose of Tralee festival would be held there. This year’s festival will be based at the Fels Point Hotel.

In Killarney, property developer and businessman Pat Duggan has plans to revitalise High Street for shopping.

His €20m proposal is for a four-storey retail and parking complex which would involve the demolition of a bar and the former Hilliard’s shoe factory building. A 260-space car park is also included.

In recent years, all of the substantial new shopping developments in Killarney have been in out-of-town locations.

Irish Examiner

Limerick regeneration chief takes up post

THE man charged with regenerating crime-ridden parts of Limerick city took up his new post yesterday pledging immediate action.

Brendan Kenny, the new chief executive of the two regeneration boards for Southill and Moyross said his boards will set out straight away to draw up two master plans.

And he promised people in the areas they are setting out to change for the better, and will see action on the ground sooner rather than later.

Mr Kenny said: “I would hope we will have some interventions for early wins. Otherwise people will feel it’s just the same again. For credibility we will have to have early wins.”

Mr Kenny said two separate vision documents will be a priority.

He added: “These should be strong documents and give hope to people who wouldn’t have hope.”

Up to last week Mr Kenny, as Assistant Dublin City Manager was in charge of huge urban renewal projects in deprived parts of Dublin with budgets of €5.5bn.

His two new boards will meet for the first time tomorrow in Moyross and Southill and will be chaired by John Fitzgerald the former Dublin city manager who was called in by the government to carry out a report to tackle social exclusion in Moyross and Southill.

Mr Kenny said he had tackled housing and social issues in areas of Dublin such as Ballymun and Fatima Mansions.

He said: “Regeneration would be a big issue for me over the past four or five years and I hope to bring this kind of experience to Limerick.”

Mr Kenny said the total demolition of huge numbers of vandalised houses had already got under way.

Refurbishment of these buildings was not an option, he said.

“A more comprehensive job is needed to today and that is what is required in Limerick. Houses with their roofs burned out do not create the right environment,” he said.

Speaking from his office at the enterprise park located in the old Krupps factory, Mr Kenny said crucial issues which needed to be tackled included crime, child welfare, health and education.

At present he is putting together two action teams which will take responsibility for implementing the master plans.

He intends to have the two master plans agreed by October and these will be translate aspirations of the Fitzgerald report into specific programmes of action.

Irish Examiner

Monday 25 June 2007

Coming up - world's first 'zero-carbon' city

The world's first attempt to create a zero-carbon, zero-waste city has been officially launched in Abu Dhabi.

The new six square kilometer energy, science and technology community will open in late 2009. The development is a unique, integrated 'Green Community' in the heart of Abu Dhabi, which uses the traditional planning principals of a walled city, together with existing technologies to achieve a zero-carbon and zero-waste sustainable development.

The city will house -

* the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology - the graduate science and research Institute currently being established in cooperation with MIT;
* research facilities;
* world-class laboratories;
* commercial space for related-sector companies;
* light manufacturing facilities - and
* a carefully selected pool of international tenants, who will invest, develop and commercialise advanced energy technologies.

The city will also host Masdar's offices and residential space for employees, as well as a science museum and edutainment facilities.

Masdar CEO, Sultan Al Jaber explained - "There is nothing like this in the world. We are creating a synergetic environment - it is a true alternative energy cluster. Here you will find researchers, students, scientists, business investment professionals and policy makers - all within the same community.

"It will be a living example of sustainable development that will position Abu Dhabi and Masdar at the forefront of intelligent resource utilisation. It will combine the talent, expertise and resources to enable the technological breakthroughs necessary for truly sustainable development."

Rooted in a zero-carbon ambition, the city will be car-free, powered by renewable energy with services digitally managed and providing real-time information. With a maximum distance of 200m to the nearest transport link and amenities, the compact network of streets will encourage walking and is complemented by a personalised rapid transport system.

Shaded walkways and narrow streets will create a pedestrian-friendly environment in the context of Abu Dhabi's extreme climate. Surrounding land will contain wind, photovoltaic farms, research fields and plantations - enabling the city to be entirely self-sustaining.

The city will provide up to 1,500 companies with an attractive package of incentives - including a one-stop-shop program of government services, transparent laws, 100% foreign ownership, tax-free environment, intellectual property protection and proximity to nearby manufactures, suppliers and markets.

Sultan Al Jaber added - "By attempting the first carbon-neutral city in the world, Masdar is demonstrating its commitment to change the way the world understands energy and sustainable resource utilisation. One day, all cities will be built like this."

Eyre Square scoops Landscape Award

The Irish Landscape Institute has awarded Eyre Square in Galway with the 'Irish Landscape Institute Design Award 2007'.

Galway City Manager, Joe MacGrath, in welcoming the award commented - "The award acts as a testament to the hard work and commitment of Galway City Council, including everyone involved in the Eyre Square Enhancement Scheme."

The award was given in the over-€1m design category.

Eyre Square has already won two national awards in 2006. Galway City Council received the award of Best City Street in the City Neighbourhoods Category for 2006 and also claimed the overall prize in the 2006 Best City Neighbourhood in respect of the Eyre Square Enhancement Project.

The enhanced design of Eyre Square is based on best modern European practice - providing a balanced solution to city centre recreational requirements and a wide diversity of activities for a range of interests, both to its citizens and visitors alike.

Eyre Square and Kennedy Park act as the primary civic space in Galway and create a setting for sculpture pieces and a place for performance and civic events. Eyre Square is now linked to the pedestrian spine of the city - creating an activity hub at the eastern end of the city centre.

The Irish Landscape Institute - as the professional body representing landscape architects in Ireland - has a Constitution and a Code of Professional Conduct. The institute has a membership of 160 - made up of full members, graduate members, student members - as well as honorary members and Fellows.

Mayo Power gets planning permission

A €140million Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant is to go ahead at the former Asahi site at Killala, Co. Mayo.

The plant will be a 100MW mixed fuel combined heat and power plant and will utilise available wood from North West forests to the maximum - providing a market for the thinnings from the newly developed private forests. It will also purchase peat and wood from local fast rotation crops. A small percentage of coal will be used to complete the fuel mix. This planned local purchase of feedstock alone is estimated to be worth €20 million per annum.

Permission has been granted by An Bord Pleanála for the continued use of the existing power generation unit on site to the west of the ESB substation, which was granted for a period of five years. Planning permission was also granted for the construction of an identical type of electricity generation unit to be located to the immediate north of the existing unit.

Each unit is 36.5 metres long and 16.7 metres wide - comprising a control unit, electricity plant and equipment with a stack rising 20 metres in height.

New wind turbine spins success for winning student

A revolutionary new design for personal wind turbines has captured the top prize at the BSI Sustainability Design Awards 2007.

Ben Storan, from Galway - a student graduating with an MA in Industrial Design Engineering from the Royal College of Art (RCA) - has been working for the past year in conjunction with Imperial College to design an affordable personal wind turbine suited to the urban environment.

The result is a unique design which uses vertical, rather than traditional horizontal, rotation. This feature gives a slower rotational speed, which allows the turbine to capture more energy from turbulent air flow, common to urban environments. It also means quieter operation.

As a result, it is able to generate more energy than domestic models currently on the market. Similarly sized existing personal wind turbines claim to generate 1kW at a wind speed of 12 m/s - but, typically, produce just 40% of what is claimed. Ben's design should realistically produce 3 times that (1.2kW) of those currently on the market.

The clever vertical rotation design uses lightweight materials, which means that Ben's turbine is more stable than other personal turbines - leading to better energy capture and making it is easier to install.

Speaking of winning the award and the £3,000 first prize, Ben said - "I'm delighted to win such a prestigious award. Growing up in the windy west of Ireland, I've always been acutely aware of the huge potential in harnessing such a free, clean and renewable source of energy - which, along with a spinning clothes line, gave me the idea in the first place."

Whilst still at the early stages of development, Ben hopes that his design will be in production in the not too distant future.

Runners-up in the BSI Sustainability Design Awards 2007, were Joe Wentworth for his retrofit folding handlebars - which encourages cycling in urban environments where space for bike storage is at a premium - and Andreas Zachariah for his 'Carbon Hero™' personal carbon calculator.

More stringent standards for building energy grants

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan T.D., has announced that funding for housing developers to build more sustainable energy houses, will now require builders to ensure that the units they build are 60% more efficient than the requirement under current building regulations.

The Minister announced the new provision at an event to mark the fifth anniversary of the establishment of Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI).

Speaking at the event, Minister Ryan said - "The last five years have been marked by many ground-breaking initiatives - led by SEI - which give us a good basis for moving ahead. The hallmark of the next five years will be accelerated and intensive delivery of change to ensure a truly sustainable energy future for Ireland."

Under SEI's House of Tomorrow Scheme, developers of groups of housing can currently avail of grant aid if they build units which are 40% more energy efficient than the requirements of current building regulations. New building standards - to be introduced in 2007 - will make these efficiency standards obligatory and the Programme for Government has signalled the Government's intention to review the regulations in 2010 and achieve a 60% efficiency target in further years.

"Today's announcement - that grant aid under the House of Tomorrow Programme will require builders to achieve a minimum additional 60% energy efficiency - is a clear signal to builders that the new Government is intent on ensuring that the highest levels of energy efficiency are maintained in all new building works" - continued the Minister.

The House of Tomorrow Programme has funded the development of over 5,000 energy-efficient new homes to-date - many of which include renewable energy technologies. "Encouraging energy efficiency and the use of renewables in the domestic sector is a cornerstone of Government policies to develop a more sustainable energy economy" - commented Minister Ryan.

In addition to the House of Tomorrow Programme, SEI's Low Income Housing Programme has retrofitted 12,000 houses with energy-efficient features such as insulation, where fuel poverty posed a difficulty for occupants. The Greener Homes domestic grants programme provides grants for individual householders towards the cost of installing renewable heat technologies. Over 16,000 householders have applied for grants to install renewable energy features since the programme was launched in 2006. The scheme is complemented by the Department's €10m Power of One energy efficiency campaign.

"The level of pent-up demand among consumers for renewable solutions and energy efficiency has been vividly illustrated by the success of these schemes and initiatives" - Minister Ryan said - noting that the Programme for Government gives a further commitment to incentivise energy efficiency in the home, through improved attic and wall insulation.

"The Programme for Government is unequivocal in its commitment to securing both long-term energy security and a low carbon future for Ireland. Together with the actions laid out in the Energy Policy Framework, the Programme for Government is the road-map to the new energy future. It is now about implementation - urgently, effectively and consistently" - he concluded.

5 years on SEI accelerates to meet energy targets

At an event to celebrate Sustainable Energy Ireland's (SEI) first five years in operation - hosted by David Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of SEI and attended by the new Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr. Eamon Ryan, T.D. - SEI welcomed the decision to raise the bar for its House of Tomorrow programme to an energy performance of 60% above the level set in the current building regulations.

The decision comes as the proven success of the House of Tomorrow programme will see its current energy standards for dwellings of 40% above current regulations, become mandatory under new Building Regulations to be introduced before the end of 2007, as part of the new Programme for Government.

Mr Taylor said - "Significant improvement in the energy performance of the national housing stock is necessary if we are to succeed in our overall goal of moving to a more sustainable market-based energy economy in Ireland. The new programme targets will assist evidence-based policy making in Ireland as they ensure a reduction in CO2 emissions and encourage an improvement in levels of energy-efficient design and construction in new Irish housing."

Under the next phase of its House of Tomorrow programme, SEI will provide funding to group housing developments which have energy efficiency ratings of 60% above the current Building Regulations.

Since it was established in 2002, SEI has worked towards meeting the policy goals of secure energy supplies, competitive energy services and environmental protection. SEI has facilitated, through its activities, more environmentally and economically sustainable production, supply and use of energy across the economy - including the home, public, commercial and industrial sectors.

"SEI has been involved in a range of initiatives across every sector of the economy for the last five years. Our success has been to instill a focus on energy efficiency and sustainable technologies, as well as providing access to support and practical solutions for implementing energy efficient measures across all of sectors of the economy, from industry - through our large industry energy network ( LIEN programme) - to consumers via initiatives like 'House of Tomorrow' and the 'Greener Homes Scheme'.

"We are confident that the targets set out in the Government White Paper - 'Delivering a Sustainable Energy Future for Ireland' (Click Here) are within Ireland's capability. In meeting these goals, we expect that renewable energy technologies, such as wind, bio-energy, solar - and, in time, ocean, will grow significantly to provide more sustainable electricity, heat and energy for transport" - continued David Taylor.

SEI Activity Highlights 2002-2007

Renewable Energy -

* €27.3m in total funding and investment committed to renewable energy research, development and demonstration projects - 107 national and international projects
* €5m in energy savings achieved through Public Sector Approved Projects - 151 projects in sports centres, local authority offices, public buildings and educational establishments.
* e3 Energy Management Bureau for third level colleges enabled DIT, TCD, DCU and UCD to reduce energy consumption by 10% in 30 buildings, resulting in a saving of 1,700 tonnes of CO2 emissions
* 13 District Heating and CHP feasibility studies supported
* 21 capital support projects and 8 feasibility studies were supported under the pilot ReHeat - eliminating 1,685 tonnes of oil per annum
* 780 MW of grid-connected wind energy - powering 370,000 homes
* Wind Atlas for Ireland - developed by SEI in 2003 and which is now the cornerstone for all wind farm design and development in Ireland
* SEI co-developed an Ocean Energy strategy with the Marine Institute in April 2006
* 14,000 applicants approved for the Greener Homes Scheme - since its introduction in 2006.

Energy Efficiency -

* SEI Industry Programme - cumulative savings equivalent to CO2 emissions of 57,000 homes
* SEI House of Tomorrow programme - reached every county of Ireland and currently includes 5,300 homes in 124 developments, with funding support of over €33m
* 12,000 low-income houses upgraded with energy efficient features
* Energy Management Action Programme (Energy MAP) - online support tool for business launched.

Integration and Innovation -

* The Dundalk Sustainable Energy Zone initiated
* Over 1,500 education workshops held - involving 45,000 students nationwide
* 18 reports from the Energy Policy and Statistical Support Unit (EPSSU) published.

Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) is the statutory authority charged with promoting and assisting the development of sustainable energy. SEI is funded by the Irish Government under the National Development Plan, with programmes part-financed by the European Union.

Marine terminal gets go ahead

Dublin City Council has granted planning permission for a Solvent Waste Marine Terminal in Dublin Port.

Indaver Ireland sought planning permission to upgrade an existing solvent storage tank located opposite their existing waste facility. The company submitted a planning application and Environmental Impact Statement in April 2007.

The Marine Terminal will be used for bulk storage of solvent waste - unsuitable for reuse, recycling or recovery - prior to monthly shipment abroad for incineration. Bulk transport by sea and the diversion of over 100 road tankers per month will bring transport efficiencies and environmental benefits.

Currently, there are limited facilities in Ireland for the management of waste solvents. Over 100,000 tonnes of this waste was exported in 2004 - the majority by road tanker.

According to the company, the Marine Terminal will enable it to offer its customers a more environmentally-sustainable and cost-effective treatment solution for waste solvents.

New housing developments may be causing bug outbreaks

The construction of new housing developments and one-off builds on what was once traditional farming land may be contributing to the recent outbreaks of of cryptosporidiosis in Ireland, according to a leading scientist from the United States.

Richard Martin, a manager with NSF International USA - a not-for-profit organisation concerned with standards development and product testing - addressed delegates at the Engineers Ireland CPD conference - 'Cryptosporidium - Causes, Prevention & Solutions' - which took place on 21st June at the Radisson Hotel, Athlone. He warned attendees that the incidence of Cryptosporidium in drinking water may be related to an overstressed water treatment infrastructure in areas of rapid development.

Cryptosporidium may occur in drinking water when the surface water - or the groundwater under its influence - suffers contamination.

Mr Martin believes that water contamination is increasing as a result of problems with waste and drinking water treatment infrastructure, in addition to extreme weather incidents and perculiarities of regional geology, such as the presence of karst limestone. Furthermore, rapid residential development in areas previously given to farming, has led to a rise in the number of points at which contaminated surface water can reach groundwater.

Such contaminated source waters can be successfully treated. As part of his presentation, Mr Martin addressed the regulations, water treatment products and validation techniques for systems and technology. UV technology was singled out as an effective means of protection from the Cryptosporidium bug.

Plastic bag levy increase

The relevant waste management amendments (S.I No. 167 of 2007) have been made by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to increase the Environmental levy on Plastic Bags.

* The Levy will increase to 22 cent on Sunday 1 July 2007
* Retailers must carry out a stock-take of certain 'excepted' bags and other plastic bags in stock before the commencement of business on 1st July 2007.
* An information leaflet PB1 for retailers was issued with the Revenue Commissioners June 2007 return form ELEV1.

Further details are also available from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government - Click Here

The 15-cent levy on disposable plastic shopping bags was introduced in Ireland on 4 March 2002. To-date, the levy has raised €75m - €18.8m was remitted by the Revenue Commissioners in 2006.

It is estimated that the use of disposable plastic shopping bags has been reduced by approximately 90% since its introduction. Prior to its introduction approx. 1.2 billion disposable plastic bags were given away free by retailers.

Prior to the introduction of the levy, the per capita usage of plastic bags was estimated at 328. The levy led to a reduction in per capita usage to 21. In the interim, there has been an increase in the usage of plastic bags. Data from levies remitted and estimates provided by the Central Statistics Office as to population density, would indicate that plastic bag usage rose to 30 bags per capita during 2006.

22 cent is the maximum the levy can be increased to under the existing legislative provisions. The aim of the increase is to reduce per capita usage to the level achieved in 2002 or lower. If this aim is achieved, the increased levy will be revenue neutral. Achieving a per capita usage of 21 will increase revenue by only an additional €500,000 to €750,000 - whereas, achieving a per capita usage of 20 will decrease revenue by a similar amount.

All plastic Bag Levy receipts - together with Landfill Levy receipts - are paid into a ring-fenced 'Environment Fund'. To-date, the Fund has been used to support -

* The provision of civic recycling facilities and bring centres
* Operational costs of running civic recycling facilities
* Enforcement of the Waste Management Acts
* North/South waste initiatives, such as the award winning all-island scheme for the Management of waste fridges and freezers
* Waste awareness campaigns - and
* A very successful 'Green Schools' initiative.

Beauty spots' masts refused

MOBILE phone giant O2 has been refused permission to build a 36-metre high communications mast in a 'sensitive' valley.

The mast at the River Slaney would have caused 'severe' damage.

And the company has also received a setback in Co Kilkenny on a well-known walking trail.

An Bord Pleanala refused permission to build a mast near Mount Brandon, describing the proposal as a 'strident alien feature' which would be 'massive and intrusive'.

In refusing permission, the Board noted Government guidelines which emphasise the importance of rolling-out the telecommunications network.

But it found that the masts would interfere with the picturesque views, and recommended refusal.

The Kilkenny mast would have been located on the South Leinster Way, a route used by walkers for decades. The board said it would 'constitute a massive and intrusive element of input which would be seriously destructive to the enjoyment of the visual and recreational amenity of the area'.

The inspector said he was 'surprised' that O2 made no attempt to provide photographs or montage images, given that most objections related to the visual impact.

Objectors to the mast at Graiguenamanagh last night welcomed the decision.

"We live at the other side of the hill and it's a very important recreational space," Susan Proud said. O2 was also refused permission for a 36-metre mast Ballyhogue, in the valley of the River Slaney.

Paul Melia
Irish Independent

Gaudi's masterpiece built without planning permission

Not strictly an Irish planning story, but amusing nonetheless.

THE Sagrada Familia, the barleysugarturreted fantasy that has become the symbol of Barcelona, has been under construction for 125 years without planning permission. The religious authorities seeking to complete Antoni Gaudi's extravaganza said this week "the works haven't had a licence for 125 years".

The city hall has turned a blind eye to the spectacular expansion of the Temple of the Holy Family, a gesture of tolerance unlikely to be granted anyone planning a Barcelona loft extension.

But a recent dispute over whether a proposed high-speed train link might undermine the monument's foundations has turned the public spotlight on the unlicensed status of Gaudi's bestknown work.

The council approved Gaudi's plans when he submitted them in 1883, but when he sought approval for a more ambitious project in 1885 the visionary architect never received a reply. Work began, and continues with no completion date in sight, without approval ever having been granted.

Gaudi submitted plans for further extensions in 1916; and in 1990 the Sagrada Familia's building works committee submitted updated paperwork to the then Mayor of Barcelona, Pascual Maragal. Administrative silence remained absolute. This did not deter Gaudi, who continued working on the site until his death in 1924.

"Because this is an exceptional work, it was dealt with through other routes, different from those of normal buildings, " a spokesman for the works told yesterday's El Pais.

A plan was put forward in the '20s for a vast, star-shaped plaza surrounding the building that would give visitors unobstructed views of the undulating steeples and dripping facades. This, too, received no reply. Since then, efforts to complete Gaudi's grandiose project have accelerated.

Fired with enthusiasm, devotees have dusted off Gaudi's plaza project, even though clearing the land today would mean razing houses and shops and evicting 150 families. They have announced an international competition to realise the plan, and even want the town hall to fund the works.

Critics have broken their silence.

"The presumed absence of a correct municipal licence is not just an administrative problem but evidence of lack of town hall control over an important matter, " warned Oriol Bohigas, the architect who transformed Barcelona from a miserable grey city to the stylish beauty it is today.

Neighbours too reached the end of their patience. "Thousands of visitors already invade our neighbourhood and make life unbearable, " a spokesman for the Sagrada Familia Neighbours Association said.

The authorities had indicated their willingness to negotiate with the church's construction committee. But relations have soured badly in recent weeks, after the Gaudi camp protested against a proposed high-speed rail link between Barcelona and the border with France that would tunnel near the building's eye-popping facade. The Catalan regional government and Barcelona city say no other route is viable, but have delayed completion for three years, until 2012. Sagrada Familia's building committee says it'll sue unless the route is shifted.

Civil and religious antagonists who could have struck a deal decades ago are now at daggers drawn.

Sunday Tribune

Sunday 24 June 2007

What Irish planners should know about Lewis Mumford

A planner in my office had not read anything by Lewis Mumford. I found this a little concerning. Here's what Irish planners should know about Mumford.

Lewis Mumford was born in Flushing, Long Island, New York, on October 19, 1895. He attended Stuyvesant High School until 1912. He studied evenings at the City College of New York for five years but did not receive a degree. Instead he became a student of the cities, beginning with New York City, whose libraries, theaters, and museums were his academy. Later, he wrote a series of "Skyline" essays for the New Yorker magazine which were intimate visits to buildings and quarters of the city that illustrated New Yorkers' aspirations and failures in their continuing act of building and rebuilding.

In 1915 Mumford read Patrick Geddes's essays expressing an organic view of society and claimed Geddes as his mentor in the years after 1923 when they met. In 1916 Mumford gained experience in the labor movement by serving as investigator of the dress and waist industry. Briefly in 1917 he worked for the Bureau of Standards in Pittsburgh, testing cement. He served as a radio operator in the U.S. Navy in 1918. The following year he became an editor of Dialmagazine and then went to London in 1920 to serve as acting editor of the Sociological Review. Returning to New York City, he wrote The Story of Utopias (1922).

The English utopian planner and advocate of garden cities, Ebenezer Howard, inspired Mumford toward an active role in city and regional planning. He helped organize the Regional Planning Association of America (1923) and served as special investigator for the New York Housing and Regional Planning Commission, beginning in 1924. He edited the pioneering regional planning issue of Survey Graphic (1925) and helped edit five volumes of The American Caravan (1927-1936). In city planning, he advocated the conservation of "green belts," with self-contained cities supporting residence, work, markets, education, and recreation. The new cities were to be constructed on a pedestrian's scale with organic coherence among the urban functions. As a city planning consultant, he forcefully urged such ideas throughout the world.

In his writing, Mumford tried to define the American conscience: its traditions and allegiances and the forces that periodically betrayed it. Louis Sullivan is the hero of Sticks and Stones; Henry Hobson Richardson is the hero of The Brown Decades and The South in Architecture; both men were gargantuan talents who wedded art and technology to give a distinctively indigenous form to American architecture. In his pioneering study Herman Melville (1929), Mumford disclosed his tragic sense of art and life. Art, he affirmed, is man's declaration against a universe that is "inscrutable, unfathomable, malicious … Not tame and gentle bliss, but disaster, heroically encountered, is man's true happy ending."

In Technics and Civilization (1934) and The Culture of Cities (1938) Mumford tried to show that artifacts are instruments of a civilization's cultural and social process and to examine architecture and machines in terms of the social conditions that nurture them. His thesis was that contemporary civilization must undergo a moral reformation to have the quality of life known to many earlier societies.

Between 1935 and 1951 Mumford wrote a series of books (the "Renewal of Life series," he labeled them) concluding with The Conduct of Life. They are long, sometimes tedious pleas for an understanding of the moral problems of public policies. Preoccupied with the rising threat of fascism, Mumford departed from his earlier pacifism and urged in 1935 that the United States declare its intention to defend against the totalitarian states. Men Must Act (1939) called for American intervention in World War II. The 1950's were very prosperous for Mumford's literary works. His early books including Sticks and Stones, The Brown Decades, and The Golden Day were all republished in 1995.

After the war Mumford worried about the ruin of cities through wholesale urban renewal, the growing dominance of highways, and the military mind's domination of foreign and nuclear policies. In Faith for Living, he wrote that "in a world in which violence becomes normalized as part of the daily routine, the popular mind becomes softly inured to human degeneracy." He held visiting professorships at North Carolina State College, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In his most searching book, The City In History (1961), he wrote, "We need a new image of order, which shall include the organic and personal, and eventually embrace all the offices and functions of man." The City In History was honored the National Book Award for nonfiction in 1962. In 1964, Mumford made six twenty-eight minute films based on The City In History.

In his much later work The Myth of the Machine (1970) he looks down upon technology, labeling the megamachine as the "guilty party." Mumford died in 1990.

Further Reading

The major source for information on Mumford's life is Van Wyck Brooks, The Van Wyck Brooks-Lewis Mumford Letters: The Record of a Literary Friendship, 1921-1963, edited by Robert E. Spiller (1970); it is virtually a social history of the era. Mumford's early career is detailed in Roy Lubove, Community Planning in the 1920's: The Contribution of the Regional Planning Association of America (1964). Mumford's views on urban life are analyzed in Morton and Lucia White, The Intellectual versus the City: From Thomas Jefferson to Frank Lloyd Wright (1962); W. Warren Wagar, The City of Man: Prophecies of a World Civilization in Twentieth-century Thought (1963); and Alan A. Altshuler, The City Planning Process: A Political Analysis (1965). Other sources include Lewis Mumford and American Modernism: Eutopian Theories for Architecture and Urban Planning written by Robert Wojtowioz (1996), Coping with the Past: Patrick Geddes, Lewis Mumford, and the Regional Museum by John L. Thomas (1997).

City manager recommends Waterford development plan amendments

The Waterford city manager Conn Murray has recommended amendments to the city’s draft development plan.

Murray has recommended the council pass a proposed amendment from Waterford Crystal which acknowledges its Kilbarry site as a tourism destination and supports the development of additional tourism-related facilities there.

Waterford Crystal’s proposed amendment suggested ‘‘the Council acknowledges the role of Waterford Crystal as a tourism destination and will encourage the development of additional tourism-based facilities on the Crystal site at Kilbarry. In addition, with the adjoining ‘opportunity site’, there may be opportunities for tour ism-based facilities, including hotel/conference accommodation, for tourist-related retailing linked to the existing premium brand outlet.”

The county manager has amended that slightly and suggests it should instead state that the council ‘‘will encourage the expansion of the tourism product at the Crystal site so as to create a nationally significant tourism facility. The facility may include tourism-based retailing linked to the existing premium brand outlet. In addition there may be opportunities on the overall opportunity site at this location to provide for additional tourism based facilities.”

Tony O’Reilly’s Waterford Crystal and Sean Mulryan’s Ballymore Properties are set to spend €300 million on the so-called ‘‘opportunity site’’. It is expected to brand itself as an ‘‘international lifestyle development’’.

The project is still being planned by Ballymore and Waterford Crystal.

Meanwhile, Noel Frisby and Tesco have made a submission in relation to the Lisduggan district centre, as king for a statement to be included in the development plan in order to facilitate the redevelopment of the centre.

The city manager has recommended an amendment which states the current design of the centre is obsolete and needs to be redeveloped.

‘‘The council will encourage its redevelopment, in the context of the regeneration of the Larchville/Lisduggan area.

‘‘The redevelopment may include the provision of a superstore, which in addition to its convenience offer, can include provision for low to middle order comparison goods of up to 1,460 square metres net floor area,” the manager’s report states.

However, Frisby’s opposition to plans for retail facilities at Ballybeg and Carrickphierish on the grounds they could inhibit the redevelopment of Larchville left the city manager unmoved. ‘‘It is considered that the planned proposals for both areas are reasonable and should be adopted unaltered,” he wrote.

Last week, the city council unveiled Project 2014,a plan that will see more than €2.4 billion invested in Waterford over the next seven years.

Major elements include a €310 million Government Quarter on a 3.7-acre site at Catherine Street, Bolton Street and The Mall.

Waterford City Council will be headquartered in this area alongside 200 civil servants from the Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government, and personnel from the Courts Service.

The mixed-use scheme will include three large office buildings and a 600 space multi-storey car park on a council-owned site that is currently under-utilised.

Space freed up by the relocation of the public service to Government Quarter will free up space around Arundel Square, the Suir and The Mall, and a new National Viking Museum is earmarked for the area.

New retail, residential and hotel developments worth more than €300 million are also to be developed in the city centre, according to the council.

A further €625 million is set to be spent by the private sector on regeneration projects on both sides of the River Suir in the city centre.

A new pedestrian bridge will link Waterford’s quays and city centre.

Conn Murray said a multiagency coordination group is being put in place to steer Project 2014 and a forward planning unit is also being established within the council to ‘‘guide appropriate and sustainable development’’.

Sunday Business Post