Friday 31 August 2007

Local objectors dismayed by Dublin airport decision

Objectors to Dublin airport's expansion plans have reacted with dismay to An Bord Pleanála's decision to give the go-ahead to a new terminal and runway.

Several residents groups in the north Dublin area objected to the Dublin Airport Authority plans on the grounds that more aircraft would mean greater levels of noise pollution and stress on the local infrastructure.

The Portmarnock Community Association (PCA) said the decision was not only bad for local residents, but also for Ireland's aviation strategy.

The PCA set up United Portmarnock Residents Opposing Another Runway (Uproar) three years ago to voice their opposition to the expansion plans. It picketed the oral hearings conducted by An Bord Pleanála last year.

Uproar urged the Government to develop a second airport for Dublin away from the existing one and recommended Baldonnel as one of the alternative options.

Uproar spokesman Brian Byrne, a former Dublin airport manager, said An Bord Pleanála had behaved "disgracefully" in making the decision.

"We're not surprised, but we are disappointed. We have pursued a campaign against the second runway in the context of the best interests of the people in our community in Portmarnock," he said.

"The new runway threatens the well-being of the community because of the noise, the pollution and other environmental consequences.

"The more macro point is that it is a bad planning decision. We are now making an unsustainable Dublin airport. It's too big. It will create a monster and turn an asset into a liability.

"It runs against Government policy of a proper national spatial strategy, decentralisation, rural development," he added. It also continued "the overloading of the eastern side of the country".

"This is going to have a much greater impact on other airports than any decision to take away the Heathrow slots at Shannon."

The St Margaret's Concerned Residents Group, whose members live near the site of the proposed new runway, said the decision would make it difficult for them to continue living there.

"There is a condition attached to the planning permission that our homes be insulated against the noise, but who is going to insulate our gardens and our outdoor amenities?" asked Sheila Morris, secretary of the group.

"We won't be able to use our gardens. It will ruin our quality of life," she said.

"We felt the environmental impact study carried out by the Dublin Airport Authority paid more attention to the flora and fauna in our local area than it did to us."

The group also opposed the airport expansion plans on the grounds that they would have a serious impact on traffic in the area.

Both groups were among seven objectors to the proposals which included Ryanair and An Taisce.

An Taisce objected on the basis of the impact of the expansion plans on air quality in the north Dublin area.

The Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Club, the Portmarnock Community School and St Helen's Senior National School also objected to the expansion plans proposed by the Dublin Airport Authority.

Mayor of Fingal Cllr Alan Farrell said the location of the new terminal close to the existing one was a "colossal" waste of money and it should have been situated away from the present terminal.

"It seems to me that the decision was taken on political rather than planning grounds. I'm not talking about the decision by An Bord Pleanála, it clearly ticked all their boxes, but the decision to give the second terminal the go-ahead in its present guise."

Ronan McGreevy

(c) Irish Times 29.08.07

EU says action against State over Tara motorway only at first stage

The European Commission has said reports that Ireland faces tens of millions of euro in fines over its plans to build a motorway close to Tara were exaggerated.

A spokeswoman for environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said yesterday the commission had so far only sent a "reasoned opinion" to the Government and there was a long way to go before fines could be imposed on the State.

However, she said it was the commission's view that the Government needed to adjust its national monument law and produce a second impact assessment before any construction work took place on the motorway.

Earlier this year the commission issued a reasoned opinion to the Government asking it to carry out a comprehensive assessment of what impact the road would have on the Tara Skryne Valley before the proposed M3 motorway road is built in the area.

Minister for the Environment John Gormley also played down fears that the Government could be hit with tens of millions of euro in EU fines over the work at Tara.

"I've seen newspaper reports which are just inaccurate . . . what we have is a reasoned opinion . . . people will make a response to that and then make a judgment. It [the EU document] is a 20-page document and there are only five paragraphs dealing with Lismullen," Mr Gormley told Éamon Keane on the Lunchtime show on Newstalk.

A reasoned opinion is the first step in a lengthy EU process. A fine is usually only imposed if a state subsequently loses a case at the European Court of Justice, and then proceeds to ignore the ruling.

Jamie Smyth

© 2007 The Irish Times 30.09.07

Healy-Rea houses refused

Kerry County Councillor Danny Healy-Rae has been refused permission by An Bord Pleanála for a 38-house development near the main street in his home village of Kilgarvan, Co Kerry.

The councillor, normally a fierce critic of constraints on development in Kerry, has reacted by saying he believed the board may have done him "a favour" in their decision given the way the housing market is at the moment.

Last April, Kerry County Council refused Mr Healy-Rae of Gortnaboul Partnership, planning permission for the Kilgarvan houses partly because of "deficiency" in the village sewerage facilities.

The council planners said the development would also be premature because a local area plan for the village had yet to be completed.

Originally, Mr Healy-Rae had planned to build 47 houses on the elevated site at Gortnaboul, near his brother Cllr Michael Heal-Rae's shop and petrol station, but had scaled the plans down with the council and before his appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

Yesterday Mr Healy-Rae said he believed the board may have done him a favour in refusing him.

"I believe they have done me a favour because the sale of houses is not good at the present time," he said.

Even if he had got permission, he would not have proceeded for some time, given the housing market state right now, and things can only get better, he said.

He had planned a "unique sewerage treatment" system that would not have impacted on the public system, but could be linked later. A new public sewerage system for Kilgarvan was advancing at this stage.

In his formal appeal Mr Healy-Rae said he had had detailed discussions at pre-planning meetings with council staff including sanitary services and there had been no objection by the public to his application for a discharge licence.

In her report, planning inspector Maireád Kenny noted two other residential developments were current in Kilgarvan, and one had been withdrawn.

She referred at length to the absence of a local plan for the village - that plan is due later this year.

"In the absence of a Local Area Plan it would have been open to the applicant to suggest an urban design scheme for this and the adjoining lands, which would have assisted in promoting the case for the development. No such proposals are set out and the layout as initially submitted to the Planning Authority and as revised fails to take account of the character of the area or to make any connections to the adjoining lands," Ms Kenny said.

The applicant has not demonstrated that there is an urgent need for housing in the area, or set out any other case which might justify a decision to grant prior to the adoption of a local area plan. Such a plan would establish density and appropriate design standards and criteria for development, she added.

Anne Lucey
© 2007 The Irish Times 30.08.07

Gormley launches new EPA report on indicators of climate change in Ireland

A new report for the Environmental Protection Agency, launched today (29 August 2007) by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley, T.D., confirms that the impacts of climate changes are already happening in Ireland and are accelerating. The report is based on meteorological records of Met Éireann.

The report, ‘Key Meteorological Indicators of Climate Change in Ireland, was prepared by researchers at the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units (ICARUS) at NUI Maynooth.

Speaking at the launch of the report, the Minister commented, “The report is further confirmation that the impacts of climate change are already happening in Ireland and are accelerating. This report confirms that annual rainfall has increased in the north and west. Not only is it raining more frequently, but the volume and intensity of rainfall is increasing. These conclusions will be self-evident to anybody who has holidayed at home this summer.” The report shows us the absolute need for the people of Ireland to play their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change,” added Minister Gormley

Minister Gormley recently met the Taoiseach, during which they had a lengthy discussion about climate change-related issues, including the agenda of the cabinet sub committee and the establishment of a special climate change commission.

The cabinet sub committee on climate change which will be meeting for the first time in the coming two weeks will have a central role in formulating and implementing Government policies and initiatives in this area.

“The establishment of a special cabinet sub committee, which includes the Taoiseach, is an indication of the priority this Government is attaching to addressing climate change,” Minister Gormley said, The committee and the Government have an ambitious and challenging programme of work ahead in tackling the climate change issue, in both the shorter and longer term.

The Minister said, “I envisage that by the end of the year there will be a number of positive initiatives on reducing emissions in Ireland. These include proposals for rebalancing VRT and motor tax, the establishment of a climate change commission, and ambitious new energy efficiency targets for new homes.”

However he added that climate change is a global issue that needed to be tackled collectively by all countries.

Minister Gormley, at the request of the Taoiseach, will be traveling to the UN in New York next month to represent Ireland and address a heads of State meeting which will be discussing climate change,

The Minister noted that the report underlines the importance of the EU objective of limiting average global temperature increases to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. "Ireland has fully and consistently supported this EU objective," the Minister said. "We are on course to meet our commitments under the Kyoto Protocol" he added "and we fully support the EU position on further ambitious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the period to 2020 and beyond".

The Minister confirmed the intention of the Government to put in place a national strategy on adaptation to address future impacts of climate change in Ireland. “This will provide the framework for integrating the predicted impacts of climate change into decision-making at national and local level. It is important that we put in place this framework as soon as possible, so that, particularly in areas such as infrastructure, planning, water services and coastal management, we do not end up making the wrong types of expensive investments in the wrong places.”

The EPA report Key Meteorological Indicators of Climate Change in Ireland updates and expands the work of an earlier report, Climate Change: Indicators for Ireland, which was published in 2002. The report is the latest in a series commissioned by the EPA’s Environmental Research Centre, and is funded by the Irish Government under the National Development Plan.

The main findings of the present report are:

Ireland’s mean annual temperature has increased by 0.7°C between 1890 and 2004.

The average rate of increase is 0.06°C per decade. However, as Ireland experiences considerable climate variability, the trend is not linear.

The highest ten yearly rate of increase has occurred since 1980, with a warming rate of 0.42°C per decade.

Six of the ten warmest years have occurred since 1990; however, 1945 was the warmest year on record.

There has been a reduction in the number of frost days and a shortening of the frost season length.

The annual precipitation has increased on the north and west coasts, with decreases or small increases in the south and east.

The wetter conditions on the west and north coastal regions appear due to increased in rainfall intensity and persistence.

There is an increase in precipitation events over 10mm on the west coast with decreases on the east coast; there is an increase in the amount of rain per rain day on the west coast.

The report notes that it is imperative to monitor key climate variables in order to identify trends, which may be an important guide for future change. Climate indicators for Ireland are based primarily on daily synoptic (summary) weather station temperature and precipitation data from Met Éireann’s monitoring network.

Terminal delay to cost the DAA €3m a week

THE GOVERNMENT has admitted that its own deadline for construction of Dublin Airport's second terminal will be missed by two years.

It was now expected to be some time in 2011 before T2 would be commissioned, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey said yesterday.

And Ryanair said it will seek a court order stopping all work on the terminal until its legal challenge is heard and the decision to allow building work to commence is reversed.

Ryanair spokesman Jim Callaghan said the planning permission granted on Wednesday was in breach of planning guidelines and that its High Court challenge would also centre on the lack of access to the airport.


There would be sufficient capacity to cater for 26m passengers -- three million more than is currently needed -- when an extended terminal opens in October, and the airport would grow for another two years without passengers being affected.

"We're going to apply for a stay on construction," Mr Callaghan said last night.

"The airport is saying this has to be built by 2009, but the Minister says it won't be built until 2011.

"We're not just trying to block development at the airport, but why not build a low-cost terminal. If we got the green light tomorrow we could have a new terminal in 18 months."

Yesterday Mr Dempsey said the delay in having the terminal built was costing the Dublin Airport Authority €3m a week.

He said the date was originally set for the end of 2009, with commissioning in 2010, but there had been delays in the planning process which set this back. "It is unfortunate that there have been such delays which put things back six or seven months," he said.

"But it is now expected it will be 2011 before it is fully commissioned and that is really pushing the extremities of this."

He said he knew from speaking to the Dublin Airport Authority that they would try to get this completed as quickly as possible. "The delay in planning has been costing them €3m a week and obviously they are not going to hang around.

"Hopefully, the legal challenges can be quickly dismissed and we can move on to the construction," he added.

Mr Dempsey said that the new terminal was a welcome decision.

"This is absolutely necessary. Everybody has had the experience of moving in and out of Dublin Airport and we all know there are huge problems there space-wise.

"I often wonder how people can get around the airport. It is a tribute to the staff there that things work as well as they do in the circumstances," he said.

"It will be a huge opportunity to increase competition at the airport and to attract new business," he added.

Irish Independent

EU block on M3 'never reached government'

THE GOVERNMENT was never officially told that work on the controversial M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara would have to stop until a comprehensive assessment was carried out on its impact in the area.

The first that Environment Minister John Gormley heard of the order from the EU Commission was when he read yesterday's Irish Independent.

And Mr Gormley will today raise the issue with EU officials at an informal meeting of environment ministers in Lisbon.

A spokesman said yesterday neither the departments of transport or environment were told of the decision, and that formal lines of communication were never used.

"No-one has come to the Government and said you cannot build this road," he said. "He (the minister) will be raising the issue at the highest level. There's been no formal communication, it's unorthodox to say the least."

The EU Commission said that discovery of a national monument along the motorway route at Lismullin, Co Meath, meant an Environmental Impact Assessment would have to be carried out to measure the impact the road would have on the area.

Ireland faces the prospect of millions of euro in fines if it allows the motorway to proceed, but it is arguing that an EIA is not required as the national monument is being removed.

Transport Minister Noel Dempsey said yesterday the decision in relation to the M3 motorway has been made and will not be changed.


"We can have all the theories we like but the decision is made," said Mr Dempsey.

He said the only thing that could change the routing of the road was if significant archaeological finds were made.

Minister Dempsey said the EU had questioned the legality of a decision made by former Environment Minister Dick Roche to excavate and then remove the monument from the route, and the Department would be giving "a very robust defence" to the questions raised.

"The reasoned opinion is ready and that reply will be with the Commission soon."

Asked about a request from an EU committee for a moratorium, Mr Dempsey said: "Our response would be 'thank you for your opinion, we have followed the EU procedures on an extremely important project and we need to get on with it'.

"This is an extremely important project for Ireland and our infrastructure and we need to get on with it.

"As I see our case, we have answered all the questions."

Mr Dempsey said he agreed with Environment Minister John Gormley's stance that there won't be any major development along the route.

"I would certainly agree with that. People are afraid there is going to be the kind of developments such as shopping centres and I agreed with them on that point. This would not be acceptable," he said.

Irish Independent

Dunne showcases his 37 storeys of towering ambition

THOSE who thought hard-nosed multi-millionaire developer Sean Dunne was out to make a killing with his billion-euro plans for leafy Dublin 4 may have got it all wrong. The massive 37-storey development which will see luxury apartments sell for up to €10m is apparently an exercise in philanthropy, judging by his remarks yesterday.

"It will achieve the almost incredible task of giving almost nine acres back to the people," Mr Dunne said yesterday.

He plans to build shops, restaurants and art galleries on the seven-acre site, which will result in nine acres of amenities - across a number of floors - that will also be accessible to the public.

Far from tearing the heart and soul from the cherished suburb, as some have feared, he is in fact reviving a cultural desert to judge from yesterday's remarks.

Mr Dunne yesterday explained: "Ballsbridge has for a long time been wrongly portrayed by some as a village, whereas in actual fact it is a national centre in that it houses the home of Irish rugby, the headquarters of AIB, 1.5m square feet of offices and is home to 29 embassies," he said.


"What was considered modern office space in the 1960s and early 1970s has now reached the end of its useful life and the cycle of developing Ballsbridge for the 21st century is now ready to commence.

"While the Jury's/Berkeley Court site measures seven acres, Mountbrook has achieved the almost incredible feat of giving back nearly nine acres to the people of Dublin," he said.

So Dubliners may now look forward to getting their hands on a two-bedroom apartments in Ireland's tallest building with price tags of €1.2m each.

And residents in the exclusive Jury's/Berkeley Court site in leafy Dublin 4 will be using free electric cars to travel about the city.

Yesterday the Carlow businessman and multi-millionaire unveiled his €1bn proposal for the central seven-acre site which will see a 37-storey building -- over twice the height of Liberty Hall -- constructed in the heart of the embassy belt.

He hopes to create a diplomatic quarter by providing office space for 29 embassies, as well as building 536 apartments, an ice-rink, cinema, offices, shopping mall, bars, restaurants and a "cultural quarter" with artists' studios. A 232-bedroom hotel is also in the proposal.

His ambitious plans for the 123-metre building would also see the development being 75pc "carbon neutral" -- meaning no carbon dioxide would be eased from the complex -- rising to 100pc as technology continues to improves.

This will be achieved by using "green" building materials, biomass heating systems and a unique "triple glazed" facade on the landmark diamond-shaped tower.

He also proposes providing electric cars to ferry residents across the city in an effort to promote its "green" credentials. The design team says it takes best practice and "takes it further" to make the complex among the most environmentally-friendly ever built here.

The plans will be lodged with Dublin City Council this morning, but Mr Dunne faces an uphill battle to get planning permission. Councillors have already rejected plans to allow high-rise buildings in Dublin 4, and 15pc of the site is not currently zoned for commercial use.

However, the Dublin City Development Plan, the planning bible which dictates what buildings may be constructed throughout the city, is due to be revised in 2011 and it is hoped that councillors will have warmed to his plans by that stage and allow the development proceed.

The seven-acre site was acquired for €378m and construction costs will be €1bn. The complex, if granted planning permission, will be completed by 2014. Two-bedroom apartments will cost €1.2m, with four-bedroom units costing €10m.

Yesterday Mr Dunne, whose company Mountbrook is behind the scheme, said his plans replaced the "outmoded and ugly" buildings which had "no architectural value" in Dublin 4.

This would be achieved by providing three acres of public streets, while shopping mall, bars and the cultural quarter would provide another 5.85 acres. The landmark tower is designed by architect Ulrik Raysse, who said yesterday it would become a "beacon" for the cultural quarter.

"It has its own special geometry and materiality," he said. "It is cut like a diamond. It was a great opportunity to place a landmark building here. It was crucial for us to position the cultural programme at the base of the tower, so that the tower is not solely the landmark for the redevelopment of Ballsbridge, but also becomes a beacon for the cultural centre."

Three acres of landscaping will also be included, and the plans will be on public display until Sunday at the Berkeley Court Hotel in Ballsbridge from noon until 6pm.

Irish Independent

Dunne unveils his D4 dream that comes in at a sleek €380m

PROPERTY developer Seán Dunne has unveiled his revised plans for a controversial large-scale residential and commercial complex on the site of the Jurys and Berkeley Court hotels in Ballsbridge.

Mr Dunne confirmed yesterday that he has applied to Dublin City Council for planning permission for his proposed development, which will include a landmark 37-storey building in the upmarket Dublin 4 area.

However, planning experts believe the millionaire businessman will face huge difficulties in obtaining approval for the site under existing planning guidelines because of the sheer scale of the project.

Mr Dunne is seeking planning permission for 536 apartments, a 232-bedroom hotel, 14,000sq m of retail space including a department store, food hall, cafes, bars and restaurants. Other facilities include a cinema, craft gallery, theatre, gym, creche and ice rink.

The Carlow-born developer also hopes to persuade some of the existing 29 embassies located in Ballsbridge to move to a new embassy complex which will constitute 7% of the floor area of the development.

Mr Dunne’s application for planning permission is the latest chapter in his high-risk investment to turn the southside suburb into “Dublin’s Knightsbridge” after his firm Mountbrook Homes paid €379m for the site in 2005 — a record price for land in Ireland at the time of €54m per acre.

“Ballsbridge has for a long time been wrongly portrayed by some as a village, whereas in actual fact it is a national centre,” he remarked yesterday.

But the developer faces an uphill battle to persuade local politicians and residents about the merits of the scheme, which includes seven other buildings ranging from 10 to 15 storeys.

The proposed landmark tower which will be called One Berkeley Court is five storeys higher than Mr Dunne’s original design for the area. The diamond-shaped tower, containing 182 apartments, will stand at 132 metres — more than twice as high as Dublin’s Liberty Hall and 12 metres taller than the Spire on O’Connell Street.

Last June, Dublin City Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of rejecting the draft area plan put forward by city manager John Tierney, which would have allowed for high-rise developments of up to 20 storeys in the city’s embassy belt.

The ruling was seen as a major setback to some of the country’s wealthiest property developers, including Mr Dunne, Bernard McNamara and Ray Grehan.

Mr Dunne hopes to persuade planners of the benefits of the project by claiming 470 apartments, accounting for 88% of all residential units, will be family-friendly with an average size of 197sq m (2,120sq ft). However, an Irish Examiner survey shows that the average size of two, three and four-bedroom units in the development is actually 138sq m (1,485sq ft) based on figures provided by Mr Dunne.

The builder’s application for planning permission will widely be seen as a move to obtain planning permission before a revised area plan for Ballsbridge, which could place permanent height restrictions on buildings in the area, could be passed by Dublin City Council.

Irish Examiner

Thursday 30 August 2007

Dunne family housing plan given go-ahead

DEVELOPER Sean Dunne's children have been granted permission by An Bord Pleanala to turn a residential apartment block into student housing.

The businessman's children, Stephen, Sean and Elaine Dunne, wanted to turn eight apartments at Merrion Grove, Stillorgan, Co Dublin, into a dormitory for students. However, local residents objected to the plans.

The case went to the Circuit Civil Court, which ruled last month that the development could proceed. Yesterday, An Bord Pleanala also granted permission.

The court heard the apartments were part of an eight-apartment block which had been bought by Mr Dunne's company, Mountbrook Homes, under tax-break legislation for the benefit of the Dunne family.

The block was part of a nine-block development of 124 duplex apartments and houses at Merrion Grove and the Dunnes wanted to convert six of the apartments into student accommodation to serve nearby UCD. Mr Dunne was the original developer of the complex, he bought the eight apartments for his children.

Irish Independent

2+1 adds up to a different road

TRANSPORT planners in Co Meath have unveiled proposals for a rail link from Dublin to Navan, and a '2 + 1' road, instead of the controversial M3 motorway.

The plan would also see the creation of a Meath World Heritage Park in the Tara Skryne Valley and lead to savings of €300m for the taxpayer, as well as safeguarding archeological remains in the area.

Brian Guckian and Tadhg Crowley said yesterday their plans would solve the transport issues for commuters "in the long term" and protect the heritage of the area, without having to reroute the M3.

They also believe that up to €300m could be saved, which could be used to buy-out the contract to toll the road, saving commuters hundreds of euro every year.

The most radical element of the proposal is for a 2+1 road to be built , instead of a motorway, near the Hill of Tara.

These are roads, pioneered in Sweden, where motorists have two lanes of traffic going in one direction, and one lane in the opposite direction, alternating every two kilometres.

This means that drivers are afforded the opportunity to overtake in safely every 2km.

The introduction of the 2+1 roads in Sweden significantly decreased road deaths and, although the National Roads Authority has built a number of these roads here, it recently announced it was abandoning them in favour of dual carriageways as these could be built at a slightly increased cost.

The Meath Master (Model archeological and Sustainable Economic Region) Plan calls for the M3 to be built as a motorway to Roestown, north of Dunshaughlin, which would change to a 2+1 on the existing N3, and bypass Navan and on to Kells.

No re-routing of the M3 would be required, and traffic volumes would be cut by at least one-third, while a rail link would be re-opened to Navan and Kells.

Heavy goods vehicles would be banned from the area and there would be subsidised rail use for commuters.

Each train could lead to 500 cars a day being removed from the busy road network, and the cost of building the 2+1 road and rail network to Navan and Kells would be €1.2bn.

The Heritage Park would reconstruct archeological sites and include heritage trails and interpretative centres, and there would be five main settlements of Navan, Kells, Trim, Dunshaughlin and Slane.

Heritage stations would be built using model green building practices, and connect networks of heritage trails and provide interpretation centres, bike rental facilities, accommodation and restaurants.

Only small eco-friendly developments would be allowed in the area.The promoters of the plan said yesterday it would be a model of sustainable economic development, which would help develop heritage and tourist activity. They hope to gain support from all political parties.

Irish Independent

EU threatens huge fines if Tara M3 work is not halted

WORK on the controversial section of the M3 near the Hill of Tara must now stop.

And the Government now faces the prospect of being hit with millions of euro in fines if it allows construction to proceed.

The Irish Independent has learned that the EU Commission has told the Goverment that no work can be carried out near the national monument discovered at Lismullin, Co Meath.

And it has ordered that a comprehensive assessment of what impact the road will have on the Tara Skryne Valley be carried out before the road is built.

The warning came as a legal challenge was launched yesterday aimed at stopping the proposed motorway.

Michael Canney from the Campaign to Save Tara group issued legal proceedings against the Minister for the Environment, the Minister for Transport, the National Roads Authority and Eurolink Ltd, the consortium awarded the construction and tolling contract.

The case centres on how the route of the motorway was chosen and Mr Canney alleges that a comprehensive assessment of each route was not carried out in line with EU law before the 'preferred' route was chosen.

And the Irish Independent can reveal that the EU Commission has warned the Government that Ireland is in breach of EU law by not carrying out a second investigation after the discovery of a national monument along the route.

Former Environment Minister Dick Roche, in one of his last acts in office, issued a direction that the Lismullin monument be excavated before the road is built over it.

But a spokesperson for EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said yesterday that Ireland was in breach of EU law by not carrying out a second Environmental Impact Assessment after the monument was discovered.

"At the moment we are still talking to the Irish authorities," the spokesperson said. "We want a second assessment. The road cannot be built until the second assessment is done.

"We have a legal disagreement with Ireland. We are saying you have now uncovered this national monument, and you cannot proceed until there is a second assessment."

In a separate development Michael Canney is seeking a court ruling that construction works on the motorway should be halted pending the outcome of the case currently being taken by the EU Commission.

The case is the first of three threatened legal challenges to the €800m motorway planned to help ease congestion on the Dublin to Meath route.

Yesterday Mr Canney said it was being taken as a 'last resort' and because the 'political and commercial backers' of the project had ignored public concerns about the road.

"It has never been my ambition to put my name forward in a legal challenge, especially a challenge against such a seemingly impregnable array of powerful political and economic forces," he said.

"I have only done so as a last resort, and only because it is absolutely essential that the silent majority who oppose this road have their concerns heard."

Irish Independent

Irish Independent on the Dublin Airport terminal decision

THE long-awaited second terminal and new runway for Dublin airport were last night cleared for take-off.

But the beleaguered €760m project faces the prospect of fresh delays after Ryanair confirmed it would take legal action to prevent the terminal being built.

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) is now facing a race against time to have the second terminal completed by a 2009 deadline.

In a decision which allows the airport to effectively double in size, An Bord Pleanala last night ruled that the DAA must abide by 61 planning conditions.

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary wants to see an independent second terminal which would effectively act as competition to the DAA's facility, while local residents and An Taisce may also mount a legal challenge against the project.

Confirming it would take High Court action, Ryanair described the terminal plan as a "gold-plated abusive waste" by a "monopoly".

DAA chief executive Declan Collier said work should commence in the coming weeks, and that congestion for passengers would be "eliminated" when the terminal opened in early 2010.

He said just one "commercial organisation" opposed plans for the terminal, and suggested its position was motivated by "narrow self-interest" rather than the interests of passengers.

Giving the green light to the two projects, the planning appeals board capped the number of passengers who can use the airport at 32 million per year, and restricted the number of aircraft landing per night to 65.

The second terminal, known as T2, will be 75,000 sqm and will cater for 15 million passengers a year.

The DAA was refused permission to build 17,000 sqm of extensions in the future, meaning that if it wants to increase capacity at the airport it must re-apply for planning permission.

Permission was refused for the extensions because the local road network could not cope with the increased traffic.

The planning permission, which lasts for five years, will allow construction of the new terminal building which will provide parking spaces for 19 aircraft, an upgrade of the road network in the airport and provision for a Metro North stop.

It will cost €395m to build, but associated works will lead to an eventual bill of €609m.

The new runway will be built 1.7km north of the existing runway.

It will expand the potential airfield capacity of Dublin to 50m passengers per year, but this would require a third terminal to be built.

The board found that the runway and new terminal complied with national and regional planning guidelines, was in the National Development Plan and the Government's Transport 21 programme.

"It is considered that the proposed development is necessary to meet the foreseeable need for aviation travel at Dublin airport and to provide for the safe expansion of air traffic at the airport," it said.

The inspector dealing with the runway application raised concerns about "deficiencies" in the planning application, but the board found there was sufficient information to grant approval.

It found there would be "no significant deterioration" in night-time noise, and in fact some improvements during the day for some residents.

The ruling caps the number of long-term car parking spaces at 26,800, and 4,000 short-term.

Irish Independent

Wave energy may be on national grid by 2009

WAVE energy could be producing electricity for the Irish market by 2009, following successful tests off the west coast.

Specialised wave energy company, Ocean Energy, has just completed eight months of tests using a wave energy converter known as the OE Buoy.

They now say that the trials, in severe sea conditions in Galway Bay, have proved that the Irish-designed and built technology can generate a commercially viable source of power.

If everything goes according to plan, the company hopes to be in a position to supply electricity to the national grid by 2009.

Testing of OE Buoy took place at a Marine Institute-designated site and the results have been validated by the Hydraulic Marine Research Centre at University College Cork.

Worldwide, only two other companies are at the same level of testing of wave energy systems, one in Denmark and one in Scotland.

Dr Tony Lewis of the research centre at UCC said yesterday: “If Ireland could capture this opportunity then we have the potential to create a substantial number of jobs, solve our energy problems, and become a world leader in the production of wave energy devices.”

Ocean Energy’s John Keating said the data collected indicates the project is commercially feasible and that the results also show that the government’s wave energy generation target of 500 mega watts by 2020, as set out in its Ocean Energy Strategy, is achievable.

“In fact, the interim target of 75 mega watts by 2012, recently set by the Green Party when they entered Government, is also on course to be met,” he said.

By 2020 wave power generation will contribute just over 7% of the country’s total 7,000 mega watt output, he predicted. Dr Lewis says there is no reason Ocean Energy should not become a world leader in the production of wave energy generation. The 28-tonne OE Buoy was assembled in Cork and moored off Spiddal, Co Galway, on Christmas Day of 2006.

Irish Examiner

€70m bypass to ease traffic

A CONTRACT has been awarded for the construction of a €70 million motorway in Co Cork, which could be open to traffic within two years.

Roadbridge Ltd were appointed by the NRA to construct the Mitchelstown bypass, which will run from the tolled Fermoy bypass north to Kilbehenny.

The motorway project will include the construction of six bridges and nine underpasses. It will run to the east of the town.

Locally based county councillor Frank O’Flynn said: “This development is very welcome and it is expected that it will alleviate the excessive amount of unnecessary traffic, including large heavy lorries, currently passing through Mitchelstown by day and night.”

A bypass was built to the western side of Mitchelstown to coincide with the opening of the Fermoy bypass more than a year ago.

It was felt that the creation of the Fermoy bypass would pump traffic at a faster rate into Mitchelstown, thus causing bottlenecks. In the interim, planning went ahead with the new motorway.

“When operational it will help to give the town back to its people. This initiative will make Mitchelstown more attractive for investment I am appealing to the IDA to prioritise Mitchelstown its surrounding area for industrial development,” Mr O’Flynn said.

Irish Examiner

An Bord Pleanála gives terminal the green light

PLANS by Dublin Airport to open its much-needed second passenger terminal in 2009 could face further delays, despite yesterday’s decision by an Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for the €609 million project.

Ryanair last night indicated it will mount a High Court challenge to overturn the decision, which it claims was based on “political interference”.

The planning authority gave the green light for the second terminal — known as T2 — subject to 30 conditions, including a restriction that the combined capacity of both terminals shall not exceed 32 million passengers per annum.

However, it refused the Dublin Airport Authority planning permission for the proposed second phase of T2 on the basis it would be premature without improvements to the local road network.

The original decision by Fingal County Council last October to approve the project was appealed by a large number of parties, including Ryanair, An Taisce and local residents including the Portmarnock Community Association.

Despite Ryanair’s threat of a legal challenge, the DAA said preliminary construction work on the terminal could begin in a few weeks.

DAA chief executive Declan Collier accused Ryanair of being motivated by “narrow self-interest rather than the interests of Dublin Airport, passengers and the wider Irish economy”.

However, Ryanair criticised the ABP ruling, claiming the planning authority had merely rubber-stamped a development that was shown to be in breach of Fingal County Council’s own capacity limits and allowed for the destruction of a protected structure, Corballis House.

In a separate decision, the planning authority also granted approval for the construction of a 3.1km runway at Dublin Airport against the advice of its own planning inspector.

However, it placed 31 separate conditions on the planning permission, including a restriction on night-time flights and other measures to limit noise from aviation traffic in order to address the concerns of local residents and schools.

The new €150m runway, which is expected to be fully operational by 2012, will allow Dublin Airport to handle up to 60m passengers in the long term.

Irish Examiner

Wednesday 29 August 2007

NRA considers building a new road in West Wicklow

The National Roads Authority are looking into new ways to tackle ongoing problems on the N81 through west Wicklow, which could result in the creation of a new road from Hollywood to Tallaght.

The NRA are investing a budget of €150,000 into a physical study on the N81 from the Dublin boundary to Hollywood, which is being carried out at their design office in Naas.

A number of fatal accidents have occurred on the N81 during the years, and it has been labelled one of the most dangerous roads in Ireland. Previous funding has only centred around upgrading certain dangerous bends, but this is the first time a different strategy has been taken.

Cllr. Edward Timmins hopes the study proves fruitful.

'There are no specifics at the moment but it could result in new stretches of road. The study will look into the feasibility of that and other options. Its more of a long term plan than previous solutions. The €150,000 helps to kick start it and I can't see why the NRA would put that money into a study if they didn't intend providing some really significant funding further down the line.'

A further allocation of €300,000 covers design work at Hangman's Bends and another €300,000 to carry out similar works at Knockroe Bends.

Another €700,000 has been set aside for pavement and minor works on the Annalecky to Drumreagh Overlay.

A total of €2,166,432 has been allocated for works on the N81 this year, up 20 per cent from the €1,809,382 from last year.

However, Cllr. Timmins insists an increase in funding has been a long time coming.

'We have seen some improvements in the funding allocation, but from 2000 to 2004 the average we received for the N81 was only €800,000.

Wicklow People

Ashford area plan meeting

Residents of Ashford will have the opportunity to express their views on the future development of their village at a special meeting next Thursday, August 30.

Wicklow County Council is preparing a draft local area plan for Ashford and will host the public meeting in Chester Beatty's in Ashford from 7.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.

The meeting will take the form of a clinic and all members of the community are invited to attend to discuss their views on the future of the village with the planning team.

An issues paper, which sets out the policies that a local area plan deals with, is available from the planning department of the county council or from the council's website.

Written submissions can be made from August 30 to September 2.

Wicklow People

New power station placed on planning fast track

IRELAND's richest businessman, Sean Quinn has been given permission to 'fast track' a planning application to construct one of the biggest power stations ever built here.

An Bord Pleanala has ruled that a 450-megawatt gas-fired station planned in Co Louth is strategic infrastructure and should not have to go through the usual planning process.

If approved it could provide enough power for almost 300,000 homes. Industry sources described the proposed power station as "huge".

The Strategic Infrastructure Bill, which came into force earlier this year, allows planning applications of national or regional importance to be lodged directly with An Bord Pleanala instead of the local authority.

The planning applications can be fast-tracked and dealt with in six months, so instead of Sean Quinn having to apply for planning permission from Louth Co Council, the board will instead decide if the massive project should be approved.

The plant at Toomes in Co Louth is one of two planned by the Fermanagh businessman, who also proposes a second station near Tynagh in Co Galway.

Yesterday it emerged that the proposed gas-fired station for Toomes will be one of the biggest power stations ever built in Ireland.

Irish Independent

Clonburris Strategic Development Zone

SOUTH Dublin county council wants all new homes constructed in a massive new urban development scheme to have the highest energy efficiency rating and to get 30% of their power from renewable sources.

In a draft plan for the Clonburris Strategic Development Zone in Clondalkin, released last week, the council proposed that 12,000 to 16,000 new homes in eight new neighbourhoods be constructed in the area, along with retail and office space, schools and parks.

The zone, which runs along the Grand Canal north of the Bawnogue area of Clondalkin, will be served by new railway stations to be built on the Kildare line at Fonthill and Kishoge and, in the long term, the new Metro West line, which will run through the site and is due for completion in 2014.

According to project manager Fionnula Lennon, South Dublin county council is flexible on which renewable energy sources can be used, which means combined heat and power plants, solar or wind energy could conceivably be employed by property developers.

The council is proposing that all new buildings in the zone be constructed with an A grade building energy rating, which means homes will have to use less than 50 kilowatt hours per square metre to cover typical heating, hot water, ventilation and lighting requirements for a whole year. An average house satisfying current building regulations will have a rating of about 90 kWh per square metre per annum.

This is the first time South Dublin has set such ambitious targets for a development.

"We included some aspects in the Adamstown plan but wanted to take it a further step. Essentially we are nailing our colours to the mast with this one. We believe it is the way forward, " said Lennon. She added that, should the plan prove successful, it could be a template for future strategic development plans.

Lennon said that, before finalising the plan, the local authority commissioned a consultants' report to assess the feasibility of the environmental aspects of the plan.

"We were looking to the long term, but have set targets that we believe are achievable, " Lennon said, adding that an economic assessment of the plan concluded that the environmental standards would not drastically affect the cost of construction.

The plan for the 265hectare zone will now enter a public consultation period which will end on 1 October, after which a final version of the plan will be approved.

Planning permissions granted for the area will then have to conform to the guidelines outlined in the development plan.

While South Dublin County Council has a significant land holding in the area, large tracts are also owned by property developers, including Treasury Holdings, Owen O'Callaghan and Liam Carroll.

The council said no aspect of the plan would proceed until the two new railway stations are developed. Should the rail project stay on timetable, it anticipated that construction in the area could begin on a phased basis from 2010 onwards.


Towering apartment project for top address

HIGH living is the promise at Ballsbridge — the epicentre of fashionable Dublin 4 — with an exclusive €600 million project.

Occupants of the 109 luxury apartments will have unrivalled views from the top levels of a planned 15-storey residential tower.

If Dublin City Council approves the plans from Glenkerrin development company it aims to provide a number of innovative features in its landmark project.

As well as providing maximum brightness to the lofty residents, glass louvres on the high-rise building’s planned old world facade will control sunlight.

The project, which is earmarked for the former Veterinary College site, is being billed as one of Dublin’s “most exciting and innovative” mixed-use schemes.

It is envisaged to centre the buildings — for offices, retail units, leisure and cultural facilities — around two new plazas and two new shared pedestrian streets.

Developer Ray Grehan of Glenkerrin Homes paid the State €171.5m — the equivalent of a record €84m an acre — for the 2.2 acre site.

Earlier this year assistant city manager Michael Stubbs sent a report to councillors that favoured the rezoning of Ballsbridge sites to allow “mixed-use development of which office, retail and residential would be the dominant uses”.

It is speculated the rezoning plan could pave the way for high-rise buildings up to 20-storeys high for the prestigious Dublin 4 area.

The planning application for Number One Ballsbridge was lodged with Dublin City Council by HKR Architects, the international architecture and design practice.

HKR director David King Smith said careful consideration was given during the design process to concerns expressed by residents.

“This process has resulted in a design that will not only have minimal visual impact but will also integrate with and complement the character and design of the surrounding buildings and Ballsbridge area,” he added.

High-profile developer Sean Dunne paid €260m for Jurys Hotel and Towers site and a further €119m for the Berkeley Court in Ballsbridge in 2005. The price per acre for those deals came to more than €50m.

Meanwhile, Dublin-based Doncot Developments is seeking planning permission to build 152 residential units on a 3.45 acre site at Terenure in the south city.

Comprising seven blocks, the project on the St Pancras Works site, Mount Tallant Avenue, include four-bedroom terrace houses and a series of one, two and three-bedroom apartments.

Irish Examiner

Dublin council seeks A-rated new homes

SOUTH Dublin county council wants all new homes constructed in a massive new urban development scheme to have the highest energy efficiency rating and to get 30% of their power from renewable sources.

In a draft plan for the Clonburris Strategic Development Zone in Clondalkin, released last week, the council proposed that 12,000 to 16,000 new homes in eight new neighbourhoods be constructed in the area, along with retail and office space, schools and parks.

The zone, which runs along the Grand Canal north of the Bawnogue area of Clondalkin, will be served by new railway stations to be built on the Kildare line at Fonthill and Kishoge and, in the long term, the new Metro West line, which will run through the site and is due for completion in 2014.

According to project manager Fionnula Lennon, South Dublin county council is flexible on which renewable energy sources can be used, which means combined heat and power plants, solar or wind energy could conceivably be employed by property developers.

The council is proposing that all new buildings in the zone be constructed with an A grade building energy rating, which means homes will have to use less than 50 kilowatt hours per square metre to cover typical heating, hot water, ventilation and lighting requirements for a whole year. An average house satisfying current building regulations will have a rating of about 90 kWh per square metre per annum.

This is the first time South Dublin has set such ambitious targets for a development.

"We included some aspects in the Adamstown plan but wanted to take it a further step. Essentially we are nailing our colours to the mast with this one. We believe it is the way forward, " said Lennon. She added that, should the plan prove successful, it could be a template for future strategic development plans.

Lennon said that, before finalising the plan, the local authority commissioned a consultants' report to assess the feasibility of the environmental aspects of the plan.

"We were looking to the long term, but have set targets that we believe are achievable, " Lennon said, adding that an economic assessment of the plan concluded that the environmental standards would not drastically affect the cost of construction.

The plan for the 265hectare zone will now enter a public consultation period which will end on 1 October, after which a final version of the plan will be approved.

Planning permissions granted for the area will then have to conform to the guidelines outlined in the development plan.

While South Dublin County Council has a significant land holding in the area, large tracts are also owned by property developers, including Treasury Holdings, Owen O'Callaghan and Liam Carroll.

The council said no aspect of the plan would proceed until the two new railway stations are developed. Should the rail project stay on timetable, it anticipated that construction in the area could begin on a phased basis from 2010 onwards.

(c) Tribune

Tuesday 28 August 2007

Developer plans €70m retail project for village

A PLANNING application for a €70m development of Slane village will be lodged by the end of the year.

Shannon Homes managing director Phil Reilly confirmed yesterday that planning would be sought from Meath County Council over the next few months.

The plans are for a 35-acre land holding to the eastern side of the N2, the main Dublin to Derry road, situated on the northern end of the village to the rear of the village school.

It is to include a commercial and retail centre incorporating a medical centre, pharmacy and other retail units.

The plan requires the relocation of the GAA pitch and Mr Reilly said that a new state of the art flood lit pitch and clubhouse would be built.

The scheme also includes a residential element but that will be subject to strict criteria in the recently adopted Meath county development plan, which caps the number of new homes that could be built and wants development to be focused along the new rail service between Dublin and south Meath.

Irish Independent

Firm ordered to rebuild razed convent in only three months

A COMPANY which illegally demolished a 19th-century convent earmarked for preservation has been ordered to rebuild it by next November.

Dublin City Council has instructed developers Kimpton Vale and its principal, Laurence Keegan, to reinstate the Presentation Convent in Terenure after it was razed on November 5 last.

The demolition happened just two weeks after the council began the process of adding it to the Record of Protected Structures (RPS).

But despite already serving an enforcement notice on the company obliging it to rebuild the convent, the council was forced to withdraw it because the title of the property was in doubt. The original enforcement notice obliged Kimpton Vale to rebuild the convent by last March.

However, it later emerged that the property was conveyed to Laurence Keegan in May 2006, meaning another notice had to be served on both the company and Mr Keegan.

Yesterday it appeared that little work had been done on re-instating the convent, which was described as being in "good condition" when sold for €15m in April last year.

But it was demolished the following November -- just weeks after the council began to consider adding it to the record of protected structures.

Bulldozers moved in to demolish the convent at 7am on November 4 and by the time a dangerous buildings officer arrived at 9.30am, so much was razed that the remainder had to be demolished on public safety grounds.

The company also faces legal proceedings because it failed to secure planning permission before demolishing the convent, and may be fined up to €12.7m.

The 1830s convent was part of a three-acre site on Terenure Road West sold for infill development.

Yesterday it emerged the convent would have to be reinstated "to the satisfaction of the planning department of Dublin City Council".

Anyone seeking to demolish a "habitable" building is required to get permission prior to the work being carried out.

A council spokesperson confirmed the building was to be reinstated, but refused to comment further as the matter is now the subject of legal proceedings.

Irish Independent

Old Irish Times’ office revamp to increase floor space by 25 per cent

The redevelopment of the former Irish Times head office on D’Olier Street will increase the gross floor space on the site by 25 per cent.

Using a vehicle called Veba, planning has been lodged to demolish more than half the floor space in the building and increase the floor space to 8,428 metres. The listed structures will be retained.

The plan includes the provision of a number of shops, restaurants and offices and the extensive use of glazing to increase the amount of natural light allowed into the building.

Veba is owned equally by P Elliott & Co chief executive David Mackey and Mark, Noel Senior, Noel Junior and Darragh Elliott. Mackey is chief executive of P Elliott & Co and chairman of the Central Fisheries Board.

He is a former Cavan county manager, spent ten years as group general manager of the Quinn Group and a further four years as chief executive of the group.

He began working with the Elliotts in 1999 after they formed Flag Properties.

The site was bought for €29 million in 2005 through CBRE.

The Irish Times relocated to Tara Street and has an option to purchase the building it currently rents.

Sunday Business Post

New €125m retail centre for Tuam

Plans for a new €125 million retail centre in Tuam have been submitted to Galway County Council.

If planning permission is approved, the centre will include a supermarket, department store, 55 shops and commercial units,112 residential units, a creche, a restaurant and office accommodation.

The development is proposed for the Palace Centre Site and will have the Bishop’s Palace as a centrepiece. The palace is a seven-bay, three-storey over-basement house dating from about 1790.

It became part of the Presentation convent school and was renovated for use as a restaurant and offices in the mid-1990s.

The scheme has be en dubbed Palace Centre @ Tuam and will have 29,540 square metres of floor space, including just under 950 basement and surface parking spaces.

It will be developed by Joe and Helen O’Toole, who own the SuperValu in the town.

‘‘This development will reinvigorate the centre of Tuam and contribute significantly to the ongoing development of Tuam as a key arterial town in Co Galway,” said Joe O’Toole.

John Mannion of letting agent DNG John Mannion said ‘‘that the proposal will create a vibrant retail identity for Tuam and will provide the local population with the type of shopping facilities they deserve’’.

The planning application seeks permission for a supermarket of just under 2,900 square metres, a department store of 1,300 metres and a 3,000 square metre household store.

The development includes some of the proposed inner relief road and will also feature an open landscaped plaza around the Bishop’s Palace.

It was designed by OKM Architects in Galway.

Tuam is 30 minute drive north of Galway and has a population of about 6,000 people.

Sunday Business Post

Objectors thwart Trim development

COUNCILLORS in Trim are concerned that objections to a number of proposed retail projects are thwarting the commercial development of the town. Local politicians are appealing to residents not to oppose proposals for a retail park planned for the outskirts of the Co Meath town.

Already, plans to build a shopping complex in the centre of town are on hold, possibly for at least a year, following an appeal to An Bord Pleanala against the SuperValu-anchored scheme. Now councillors fear similar delays in constructing the planned retail park will have a detrimental effect on the town's future development.

There are fears too that the new Office of Public Works headquarters to be build adjacent to the SuperValu centre and by the same developer, could face delays if construction of the shopping complex does not proceed.

"People are worried about that possibility, " says local councillor, Vincent McHugh.

"Personally I don't think the OPW building is in any danger.

But the two projects are part of the same package. If the shopping centre doesn't get the go-ahead then we won't have anything like the development we anticipated.

"As public representatives we're continually hammered for not supporting local industry, " McHugh says. "The shopping centre and the retail park will benefit local traders and the town's growing population.

For years now there's been war over parking in the town.

Making deliveries means blocking traffic and people avoid the town centre for that reason. Here we have an opportunity for traders who need the space to move to a retail park where traffic wouldn't be an issue. There are proposals for a car park with up to 1,000 spaces at the SuperValu centre. That will mean people continue to shop in town.

"We've spent the last 20 years trying to attract commercial development to our town. The population is now increasing rapidly. Ten or 15 years ago there were 3,000 or 4,000 living here. Today the figure is around 10,000 and the estimation is that by 2009 there will be 15,000 people living in Trim. Why anyone would object to a shopping centre to facilitate that number of people is beyond me. It's vitally important to avoid similar delays with the retail park."

From Sunday Tribune

Monday 27 August 2007

New €500m masterplan unveiled for sugar plant

A MASSIVE €500m redevelopment of a former Irish Sugar plant which promises to create 1,000 new jobs has been included in a special council blueprint.

Greencore last night unveiled its ambitious MallowWest master plan for the biggest single-site mixed use development attempted in an Irish town.

It follows consultation with Cork county council.

In May 2006, Greencore ended almost 80 years of Irish sugar production with the decision to shutdown its Mallow plant in North Cork in the wake of sweeping Brussels changes to the EU sugar regime.

Mallow was Ireland's sole remaining sugar facility with sister plants at Tuam, Thurles and Carlow having shut down over the previous 20 years.

Almost 300 workers lost their jobs in Mallow. But Greencore insisted that MallowWest offers the potential to create up to 1,000 new jobs in various commercial, industrial and technology projects planned for the new development.

The MallowWest project has now been included by Cork county council in its Special Local Area Plan (SLAP) for the booming North Cork town.

Greencore designers will now develop the outline blueprint for the MallowWest regeneration project in consultation with council planners and, when completed, a formal planning application will follow.

Irish Independent

Liffey Valley to be turned into park stretching for 20km

THE HEART of the Liffey Valley is to be dramatically transformed over the next decade through plans to build a 20km park spanning the River Liffey that would link the heart of Dublin with Celbridge, Co Kildare.

The ambitious plan to develop the banks of the Liffey into Ireland's largest linear park is awaiting approval and funding from the Environment Department.

However, work has already begun on some sections of the project, a spokesman for the Office of Public Works confirmed.

The project, involving four local authorities, would see the banks of the Liffey transformed into a greenbelt with cycle and pedestrian paths along the river that would incorporate 14 "flagship" projects along the park route.

The concept was borrowed from the Lagan Valley Regional Park in Northern Ireland which features a 17.6km parkway that snakes along the banks of the River Lagan from the heart of Belfast to the Union Locks in Lisburn.

Eugene Keane, project co-ordinator at the OPW whose achievements include designing the interpretive centres at Newgrange and the site of the Battle of the Boyne, said the aim of the project is to create an urban greenspace rivalling that of our European neighbours.

"The essence of the park is already in existence, but linking it all together will create a far greater appreciation of what is effectively a green lung reaching into Dublin. By linking all these projects together, we can create an entity that defies administrative boundaries and would be the envy of other European cities," he said.

The centrepiece of the project will be the €6m restoration of the Anna Liffey mill, a former flour mill in the heart of the Strawberry Beds near Lucan. The first project would see Dublin City Council extend the Liffey boardwalk to Heuston Station, followed by plans to build a 40-metre pedestrian bridge at Chapelizod that would link up with a new riverside park near Islandbridge.

The site would also feature a new entrance to the National War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge, as well as a link to the gardens via a new bridge from the Phoenix Park.

A new riverside park will also be created in Celbridge, while the riverbank in the heart of Leixlip will get improved pedestrian access. The nearby Lucan Demesne will be linked up with St Catherine's Park by another pedestrian bridge. Other projects include the restoration of the historic Guinness bridge near Palmerstown. While the project will be subject to approval from the Department of the Environment, other hurdles include wrestling some of the land in question from owners and developers who own sizeable chunks of the land bank near the Anna Liffey mill site.

Irish Independent

Green fuels plant on way

IRELAND'S renewable energy resources are to be boosted by a €50m bio-diesel plant capable of producing 250,000 tonnes of fuel each year.

The plant, which is proposed by alternative energy firm, Bioverda, has been earmarked for a site at Ringskiddy in Cork harbour.

The proposed plant is one of a series of high-tech bio-diesel facilities being developed throughout the EU.

They are aimed at slowly reducing Europe's reliance on oil-based fuels and can produce 'green' fuels from a range of crops and vegetable oils.

Formal planning permission for the high-tech plant will be sought this autumn and, if granted, will see the plant process vegetable oil into high-grade bio-diesel for both the Irish and EU markets.

At peak production, the facility will be able to manufacture close to 250,000 tonnes of bio-diesel and will employ 35 staff.

Bioverda is proposing the development in conjunction with the O'Flynn family, the owners of South Coast Transport, a North Cork-based haulage firm.

If planning is granted for the plant, the developers hope to be able to begin construction work next year.

The plant is earmarked to be operational by 2010.

The project was unveiled after Greencore ruled out the development of a major bio-diesel plant at their former Irish Sugar plant in Mallow,Co Cork.

Studies indicated that, without Government support levies, it would not be commercially viable to use the Mallow plant to process sugar beet for bio-fuels.

Irish Independent

Church may add mobile phone mast to bell tower

A mobile phone mast on a Church of Ireland church has caused consternation among residents of south Dublin. Locals fear the equipment planned for the church bell tower of St Matthias Church on Church Road in Ballybrack could damage their health and the health of children in a nearby school.

Mobile phone company Vodafone have applied for planning permission for the erection of four antennae and radio dishes and associated equipment cabinets in the church tower.

"It defies belief that they are going to put these masts into the belfry of the church," says John Kavanagh who lives nearby.

"It is going to be beaming down on all of us and all our kids. I am opposed to this on health grounds because there is no conclusive evidence that these things are not dangerous in the long-term.

"I just think that there are better places to site these things rather than beside a school and in the middle of a residential area. I am a bit shocked that the church are considering this."

Last year, local councillors Tom Kivlehan (GP) and John Bailey (FG) proposed that the county council should review its policy and phone masts would not be located closer than 600 metres to a school, childcare facility, residential area or nursing home.

The Sunday Independent asked the Church of Ireland what consultation they had with residents about the mast.

In a statement, they said: "The notification process to local residents is facilitated through the application for planning permission made by Vodafone through the local authority."

We also asked Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to comment on local wishes that they defer the decision on the mast until the Dail committee had issued its findings.

A council spokesperson said: "The application will be considered in accordance with the Planning and Development Act, and the council cannot pre-empt the decision."

Irish Independent

Friday 24 August 2007

New town to boast 16,000 energy-efficient homes

A NEW 'green' town to include 16,000 homes is planned for the capital.

The new suburb will be in Clonburris and Liffey Valley, and will offer new residents a direct rail link to the city centre.

The houses will also be among the 'greenest' ever built here, with builders using the most environmentally friendly products available.

South Dublin County Council has developed a masterplan for the area between Lucan and Clondalkin, which sets out how the town will be developed.

Clonburris has joined nearby Adamstown in being designated a Strategic Development Zone, meaning the community facilities and public transport links will be built in tandem with the new homes.

Landowners will be asked to help pay for rail links and essential infrastructure for the new town.

The council are already developing a new town in nearby Adamstown, also a Strategic Development Zone, and developers involved in this scheme have helped pay for infrastructure.

And the public are being asked to give their views on the massive development planned for the south west of the city. The site lies west of the M50 motorway, and the Dublin-Kildare railway line bisects it with the Grand Canal bordering its southern end.

The Clonburris area covers 265 hectares, and the new district of eight new neighbourhoods will be based around a new Main Street adjacent to the rail and metro station at Fonthill Road.

It will include "significant" shopping and employment floorspace, between 11,800 and 16,000 new homes, and a range of community and other facilities such as schools and parks to support the new community.

New bridges will be built across the canal and railway to provide good public transport links, while a "sustainability toolkit" sets out standards that new development will need to meet. This includes "A" rated energy-efficient new homes and and the use of renewable energy sources.

The proposed Local Area Plan for the Liffey Valley Centre covers 64 hectares and provides a high quality mixed use urban centre, based on upgraded public transport and urban design. The new town centre will incorporate retail, commercial, residential, recreational, community and cultural activities.

It promises "innovative" buildings and a network of urban squares and streets. A new bus/taxi interchange, with possible future Luas, will be provided at the heart of the new town centre.

The public consultation period on both plans runs until October 1 next, and the public are asked to make written submissions. The plans can be inspected at council offices.

Irish Independent

€18m public park will have green credentials

PLANS for a major new public park in the capital have been unveiled.

The €18m 'avant garde' Fr Collins' Park in Donaghmede will be among the most environmentally-sound public parks ever built here, with wind turbines used to generate power for street lighting and reed beds used to recycle and clean water for its lake.

Dublin City Council has also announced a massive redevelopment of the Northside Shopping Centre to include 1,400 new homes. The existing Cromcastle flat complexes will be demolished to make way for the new houses and apartments, while the Coolock shopping centre will be re-located to a new site. The ambitious plans form part of an Urban Village renewal programme in the area. The council has entered into a public private partnership with Headland Property Holdings which will build the new shopping centre and provide a public swimming pool, leisure centre and 1,400 new homes, of which 30pc will be earmarked for social and affordable housing.

Construction work is due to begin late next year, and the first phase will deliver 45,000 square metres of retail space, a medical centre, 953 new homes -- of which 283 will be for social and affordable housing -- and two creches. The second phase, which should be complete by 2013, will see a new main street, cinema, offices and 450 new homes, of which 360 will be private units.

Although no costs were outlined yesterday, the council expects 'hundreds of millions of euro' to be invested.

"We are actively working to create strong and vibrant communities and villages that we can all be very proud of in our growing city," Dublin Lord Mayor Paddy Bourke said yesterday. "Already villages such as Irishtown and Ballyfermot have benefited from urban village renewal, and Dublin City Council will continue its programme of schemes in the coming years."

Parks Superintendent Gerry Barry said the 55-acre Fr Collins' Park would be the last major public park to be built by the council as land was becoming increasingly scarce in the city.

Designed by Argentinian firm Romero Architects, it will be complete by 2009 and include five playing pitches, cycle and running paths, three play areas for children of different ages, picnic areas and a lake and promenade.

Irish Independent

Thursday 23 August 2007

Protesters take fight to the EU as Gormley feels heat

ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley is now under pressure to reveal what the EU has told him it thinks of building new roads over monuments.

Campaigners against the M3 motorway route want to keep the pressure on the Green Party, given their objections in the past to proposed roads.

Opponents of the highly controversial M3 motorway are vowing to continue their fight against the routing of the road through the archeological site at Lismullen.

In a major setback to the campaigners, An Bord Pleanala gave the green light for the road without demanding a new environmental impact assessment.

Campaigners of the road want the Green Party Minister to release a European Commission report on the law allowing road building to proceed -- even when a national monument is found on the route.

The Tarawatch group says it is appealing directly to the European Commission over the latest Bord Pleanala decision.


The group says it wants Minister Gormley to publish a so-called reasoned opinion from the Commission on the National Monuments Act 2004. The law is possibly in breach of EU environmental directives.

Last night, the Department of the Environment said that such documents are never published because it forms part of potential legal proceedings by the European Commission against the Government.

Tarawatch's Vincent Salafia said the decision of An Bord Pleanala was made without any public consultation or opportunity for independent assessment to be given.

"That is exactly why the EU is saying the decision to demolish the site is illegal," he explained.

Independent MEP Kathy Sinnott said the National Roads Authority is to blame for the delays in the project because it only conducted an Environment Impact Assessment on one route.

"We could have had this road finished by now without all these problems. We've created a terrible dilemma," she said.

Sinn Fein MEP Mary-Lou McDonald said the decision to allow the M3 motorway to proceed along its original route is a blow to Irish heritage.

"The commuters of Meath need and deserve an immediate transport solution. However, it has been proved that this does not have to be at the expense of our heritage," she argued.

Irish Independent

Tara group fury as M3 is finally given green light

RELIEF is finally coming down the road for thousands of urban sprawl commuters stuck in horrendous gridlock between Meath and Dublin.

But the decision yesterday to allow the controversial €800m M3 tolled motorway be built over a national monument has angered objectors who vowed to continue their battle in Irish courts and at EU level.

The National Roads Authority welcomed the Bord Pleanala decision, pointing out that the existing N3 road has one of the highest crash death records in the country, more than 50pc higher than the average main national route.

The new motorway would be far safer, the NRA said. There will be a toll of €1.30 for car drivers.

An NRA spokesman also said the motorway, work on which has already started at the northern and southern ends, passes further from the Hill of Tara that the existing road.

The M3, which has been delayed for several years because of legal challenges, will run 60km from Clonee to Kells and is due to be completed by 2011. The motorway will bypass the towns of Dunboyne, Dunshaughlin, Navan and Kells.

However, the TaraWatch action group said it planned to make an immediate appeal to the European Commission over the decision of An Bord Pleanala to allow the M3 motorway to be built over the newly discovered Lismullin national monument.

The decision means that the site, close to the Hill of Tara, will be examined and recorded by archaeologists before the road is constructed on top of it.

The Lismullin site consists of two circular enclosures, the largest 80m in diameter, and dates from somewhere between 1000BC to 400AD. Last month, the NRA submitted its plans to preserve the site 'by record' to Bord Pleanala. This means the NRA archaeologists will examine it in detail and then build the M3 over it.

The decision was approved by the outgoing Environment Minister Dick Roche and his successor John Gormley, the Green Party leader, said his hands were tied as the decision had been taken.

An Bord Pleanala approved the Lismullin action yesterday on the grounds that the plan did not constitute a material alteration to the M3 scheme which it had already approved. The authority said it took account of the order by the Environment Minister that the site would be fully excavated and recorded.

This was the last planning obstacle to the construction of the road which has been dogged by delays lasting several years because of legal challenges.

TaraWatch said it was taking legal advice on how to make a direct application to the EU, and ask them to step in and bring the demolition works to a halt. Members are also taking legal advice on whether it will be possible to get an injunction in the Irish courts, to give time to the EU to pursue their legal action.

Spokesman Vincent Salafia said: "The decision of the Bord was made without any public consultation or opportunity for independent assessment to be given.

"That is exactly why the EU is saying the decision to demolish the site is illegal."

Irish Independent

Mayor blasts council over housing

DUBLIN city council is facing a call that it be stripped of its social house-building powers after new figures showed that it has built fewer than 1,000 homes in five years.

Despite the capital city being the epicentre of unprecedented housing demand, the local authority charged with alleviating the crisis has singularly failed, a Fianna Fail backbencher said last night.

Figures prepared by Dublin city council and seen by the Irish Independent reveal that the local authority built only 189 new units in the whole of last year for those on the housing list. At the same time it provided only 52 senior citizen units -- and was forced to buy 216 houses and apartments from private developers. In the five years since 2002, only 914 council homes have been built by the local authority under its social housing responsibilities.

At the same time there remain more than 5,000 on the city housing list, with thousands more not bothering even to register.

Last night former Dublin Mayor Michael Mulcahy said he believed the time had come to take house-building powers away from the city council and to vest them in the new Junior Minister for Housing, Batt O'Keeffe. "The figures revealed by the city manager are a disgrace," Mr Mulcahy said. "One developer could provide this level of housing with his eyes closed. Dublin city council has simply failed to put in place a comprehensive house building programme as it is obliged to do under the Housing Acts.

"The thousands on the housing list are just the tip of the iceberg," he added. "Thousands more would come on if they had any realistic prospect of accommodation. I personally know of cases such as eight people living in a two-bedroom house where a mother and two children will have been years on the list."

Irish Independent

Housing plan ‘could bring village to standstill’

PLANNERS have been accused of increasing the risk of traffic jams in one of Co Cork’s worst bottlenecks for motorists.

Concern has been voiced about the number of houses being granted planning permission in Castlemartyr, which is a nightmare for motorists at peak times.

Fears of an even more congested village were heightened in the past few days after Cork Co Council approved a €55 million housing project there.

Limerick-based Chieftain Construction was granted permission to construct a mixed development of 200 homes, a crèche, and two sports pitches in the townland of Gotnahomna More.

Castlemartyr is an attractive proposition for developers, located a few miles from Midleton and within easy reach of a planned new commuter rail line to Cork — expected to become operational in early 2009.

However. there are fears the road infrastructure will not adequately cope with the increasing traffic demands.

Castlemartyr-based FG Deputy David Stanton said, like many residents, he was extremely concerned at housing development outpacing road improvements.

“Castlemartyr can experience very lengthy delays at peak time and this is going to get worse with more housing in the area. People are taking to narrow county roads to avoid the village and this is creating its own problem. We need to fast-track a bypass,” the Fine Gael TD said.

A Cork County Council spokeswoman admitted yesterday that it could be some years even before the local authority was in a position to start construction of a bypass.

Engineers want to build a new road from Midleton which will skip both Castlemartyr and Killeagh before hooking up with the existing Youghal bypass.

“The proposed project is a good bit down the road. We have received a small amount of money (from the Department of Environment) for a study on a proposed new road. This will take about a year-and-a-half to complete. Then we will have to select a route corridor and route options and it could be another two years before the optimum route is decided upon,” the spokeswoman said.

After that, construction will be dependent on obtaining funding from the department.

In the meantime, the National Roads Authority (NRA) is preparing to carry out traffic calming and other improvement works in Castlemartyr. They will get underway next month.

Although urgent, the work is likely to lead to some disruption and more delays for motorists.

The NRA is also planning to resurface the village’s main street.

Irish Examiner

M3 route plan likely to face legal challenge

THE decision by An Bord Pleanála to approve the National Roads Authority’s (NRA) plans to excavate and build over the national monument on the M3 motorway route is likely to be challenged in the High Court.

Vincent Salafia, of protest group Tara Watch, said a legal challenge was being considered following the ruling issued by the appeals board yesterday. It clears the way for an archaeological examination of the site at Lismullin, Co Meath, but for the site then to be recorded, rather than preserved. The monument includes two circular enclosures dating from between 1,000BC to AD400 and its preservation has been the subject of political and public controversy, including protests disrupting access to the site which was discovered in April.

Outgoing environment minister Dick Roche signed an order for the site to be recorded and the new road built over it in the days before John Gormley took over. The new minister subsequently approved the move after receiving advice on the matter.

The National Roads Authority had to seek clearance to go ahead with that plan from An Bord Pleanála, to determine if the work constituted sufficient change to the €1 billion scheme cleared by the board in August 2003 to require a fresh planning application. The board has decided that no material alteration has arisen to the road scheme.

Mr Salafia said that evidence from an independent archaeological expert suggests the site’s importance has been underestimated because it could be an ancient amphitheatre. However, An Bord Pleanála did not accept submissions from the public in considering the matter.

“We will take legal advice with a view to going to court. An Bord Pleanála is normally the place to appeal decisions, so the only place to go is the EU or to the courts, but it would take too long bringing it to the European Commission,” he said.

A judicial review would first require approval of the High Court before going to a full hearing and could add months to the timescale of the M3 project, scheduled for completion in 2010.

A NRA spokesman said excavation work began two weeks ago and should be completed in two months.

“The High Court has already found in favour of the national monuments legislation and confirmed the adequacy of the planning and environmental assessment procedures on this project. We’re confident that any further challenge in this area would fail on the grounds that it has already been tested and adjudicated on in the courts,” he said.

A Department of Environment spokesman said Mr Gormley did not have any comment in response to An Bord Pleanála’s decision.

The project has been delayed by about a year in total because of legal challenges and archaeological finds along the 60km route, which will join Clonee in south Meath to the northside of Kells.

Irish Examiner

Wednesday 22 August 2007

Wexford shopping centre to create over 400 jobs

More than 400 jobs will be created in Co Wexford over the coming months with the opening of a major new shopping centre in Gorey, it was announced yesterday.

The €20m Gorey Shopping Centre is due to open in early October and will include Dunnes Stores as anchor tenant and another 24 shops as well as a medical centre.

Over 200 workers will be employed in the 83,000 square foot Dunnes outlet alone and will be one of the company's largest stores in the south east.

There will also be parking for 400 cars, half of them in a specially designed underground facility that will boast state of the art security lighting.

The centre's manager, Brendan O'Bracken, reassured business owners that the new development will not lure away their customers. "You could say it was an extension of the Main Street," O'Bracken added.

Irish Independent

Tough new laws for farm pollution

FARMERS who pollute rivers with slurry will be jailed for a year and face a €500,000 fine under tough new laws.

Currently the maximum fine in €3,000 in the district court and a one-month jail term.

But now Environment Minister John Gormley has cleared the way for farmers to be brought before the Circuit Criminal Court and put behind bars if they breach EU rules.

The new regulations were introduced last week and took immediate effect but were not publicly announced.

Farmyard slurries and fertilisers have been implicated in recent bouts of serious tap water contamination.

Mr Gormley said the maximum fines permitted by the original nitrates regulations were disproportionately low and did not reflect the potential gravity of offences.

There would now be a more realistic range of fines which can be applied by the courts.

The courts will decide the appropriate level of penalty in any particular case having regard to all the circumstances.

Ireland had finally been brought into compliance with the EU Nitrates Directive dating back to 1991, the minister added.

Irish Independent

Developers seek green light for hi-tech park

PROPERTY development giants Treasury Holdings are seeking planning permission for a business and technology park which would create up to 2,500 jobs along the Waterford-Tipperary border.

The initial phase of planning permission has been sought by the company for lands at Coolnamuck, about three kilometres west of Carrick-on-Suir (Carrick).

The 320-acre site for the proposed €10 million campus development runs along the N24 national primary route as well as the R680 regional route.

Public consultation meetings have already been held with residents in Carrick and the neighbouring town of Rathgormack while discussions have taken place with council officials in advance of the start of the planning process.

The project has the backing of the IDA which is in favour of attracting new investment to the area. The region has lost several industries in recent years and has been labelled by local politicians as an “unemployment blackspot”.

The traditional tannery employers of the region have fallen away over the last two decades while an attempt to attract government decentralisation to Carrick was unsuccessful.

The developers envisage research and development to be a major component of the technology park, with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology areas key to its future.

Most of the proposed 2,500 jobs forecast for the campus would be of a hi-tech nature, while local representatives also hope that the development will help to attract other employers to the region.

Plans lodged this week, in the name of John Ronan of Treasury Holdings to Waterford and South Tipperary county councils cover a new roundabout on the N24, with access to a proposed new bridge across the Suir, leading to another roundabout to access the development. If given the go-ahead, the bridge would carry two lanes of vehicular traffic and one pedestrian walkway. There will also be causeway works with an arched pedestrian walkway at each side of the river.

The developers also want to build a new access road and car park close to the R680, for the purposes of providing leisure amenity access.

These planning applications, drawn up by Dublin-based architects Henry J Lyons & Partners, cover access issues to the site, while future plans will involve the buildings and other relevant development. The proposal is currently at pre-validation stage and a decision is due by early October.

The lands were zoned for “special development” by Waterford County Council in 2005.

Irish Examiner

Tara ruins must be preserved, US academic warns

NEWLY discovered 2,000-year-old ruins at the ancient Hill of Tara site must be fully preserved because of their unique size and character, according to a US academic.

State archaeologists began excavation work on the prehistoric Lismullen structure earlier this month, claiming it was under threat from adverse weather.

But Dr Ronald Hicks of Ball State University, Indiana, argues it is part of a larger ancient ritual complex and must be preserved in situ.

Controversy has surrounded the site since the ruins were uncovered by workers during construction work on the controversial M3 motorway last April.

Tara Watch, which is demanding the site be preserved, has called on the Government to halt excavation until An Bord Pleanála rules whether a fresh planning application for the road project is needed in light of the find.

“This independent report proves the national monument is much more significant and substantial than the National Roads Authority has reported,” campaigner Vincent Salafia said.

“In light of this report, the minister should halt the demolition works until An Bord Pleanála concludes its current deliberative process,” he said.

Dr Hicks argues Lismullen is comparable to ceremonial enclosures at Tara and other royal sites in Ireland, but is twice as large as any other.

The site’s discovery came a day after then transport minister Martin Cullen turned the sod on the €850 million road project.

The discovery was granted National Monument status and all works were halted.

But in one of his final acts of office, former environment minister Dick Roche used the National Monuments Act 2004 and signed an order of preservation by record, meaning the prehistoric henge would be photographed, sketched and measured, then razed to make way for the motorway.

Environment Minister John Gormley maintains he does not have the authority to revoke his predecessor’s decision without a material change in circumstance.

Tara Watch has sent a solicitor’s letter to Mr Gormley demanding the work be stopped, to which it claims no reply has been received.

Irish Examiner

Tuesday 21 August 2007

We'll drink to that . . . cheers and fears as water crisis finally over

ANOTHER contaminated tap water crisis could break out on the same scale as the deadly Galway outbreak which finally ended yesterday. The Environmental Protection Agency last night issued a warning to all local authorities that they had to provide safe drinking water.

Gerard O'Leary, EPA programme manager, said the agency had directed Galway city council to install an ultraviolet light disinfection system at the Terryland New plant. This system provides an effective barrier to cryptosporidium entering the drinking water supply.

"The cryptosporidium contamination incident in Galway city, and more recently in Clonmel, is a timely reminder to all local authorities of the importance of both the need for source protection and provision of adequate treatment facilities," said the EPA chief.

The culprits behind the crisis which affected 90,000 people and left hundreds very ill escaped scot free, it was also revealed yesterday.

Five months later, and at a cost of millions in lost tourism revenue, the green light was finally given for householders to drink their water in Galway.

Officials suspect septic tanks belonging to householders were to blame for polluting Lough Corrib from which the water is drawn.

But yesterday they admitted: "It is unlikely that a point source or sources of the outbreak will ever be identified."

Politicians were furious that the authorities were unable to track down the cause of the contamination.

They warned that a similar outbreak could easily happen as other tap water supplies nationwide are also polluted.

As much as 30pc of groundwater sources from which tap water is abstracted and treated contains cryptosporidium and e-coli bugs which can be fatal in elderly or those with poor immune systems.

The EU is threatening to take Ireland to court for not forcing local authorities to provide safe drinking water around the country.

HSE officials and city and county engineers in Galway confirmed yesterday they are satisfied that water supplies no longer need to be boiled and are drinkable.

Up to 90,000 people have been forced to either boil water before use or buy bottled supplies since the outbreak of cryptosporidium in March.

The HSE yesterday said people could now use tap water in Galway for drinking, food preparation, ice making and teeth brushing without first boiling it, unless they are immuno-compromised and have had specific advice from their family doctor.

The decision follows the installation, testing and commissioning of an ultraviolet light disinfection system at the Terryland water treatment plant where water is subjected to three separate treatment processes.

These are chemical treatment, full filtration and ultra violet disinfection.


The UV disinfection is the largest of its kind in the country and provides an additional barrier against cryptosporidium.

The old Terryland water treatment plant is no longer in use and additional water is supplied to Galway City from Galway County Council's Luimnagh water treatment plant.

Galway City Council and Galway County Council have set up a helpline for further questions relating to the water supply. This number is 091 536400 (office hours).

John Power, Irish Hotels Federation chief executive, said the outbreak "showed the weakness in how local authorities operate safe water systems". Opposition politicians warned that the Galway water crisis could recur due to the failure to find a definitive cause.

They also expressed concern at the lack of investment in sewage treatment plants.

Fine Gael Galway West TD Padraic McCormack said it was "incredible" that the HSE West had failed to discover the source of the water contamination.

"Is the HSE now saying that everything in the garden is rosy? I believe they should establish the cause, so that it can be eliminated," he said

Mr McCormack said the early testing for water contamination had pointed to human waste, which could have come from any of the towns and villages around Galway city still lacking sewage treatment plants.

"There's one under way in Headford but Claregalway, Oughterard, Clonbur and Corrnamona don't have any. This is due to the neglect of the Government over the past 10 years when we had plenty of money but no progress on sewerage schemes."

(c) Irish Independent