FORMER attorney general and EU Commissioner David Byrne performed a surprising volte face last month over his plans for a new house outside Schull, Co Cork, on an isolated site overlooking Long Island. Byrne returned to Ireland after his stint in Brussels as Health and Safety Commissioner and now lives in Blackrock. But, according to the planning application submitted for a new abode in Schull, the one-time barrister is planning to sell up and move south permanently. Byrne already owns a holiday home in Schull (recently granted permission for an extension) in a separate development of eight houses.
But the planned new house is located within the green belt of Schull, an environmentally sensitive area which is a ‘Candidate Special Area of Conservation', as well as a ‘Scenic Landscape Area'. Given that the area planner deemed that Byrne's application did not warrant any "special sitebased need" (eg that he hails from the area) a comprehensive refusal was recommended. This refusal was endorsed by the senior executive planner but, surprisingly, was countermanded by a Management Order. It is unclear on what grounds this decision was taken but An Taisce claimed in its appeal that the ruling was ultra vires. Last month Byrne withdrew his application.