Saturday, 22 December 2007

Appeals lodged against plan for building on Great Blasket

Appeals have been lodged against plans by An Blascaod Mór Teoranta for a cafe and services building on the Great Blasket Island off the coast of Kerry.

The realisation of the building is an integral part of the sale of most of the company's property on the island to the State, hammered out this summer.

New piers, paths and conservation of buildings are on hold until the building goes ahead, under the terms of the agreement reached with the OPW this summer.

A previous application for a somewhat larger services building was turned down by An Bord Pleanála two years ago.

The historic Irish writers' island, home to Tomás Ó Criomhtháin, Seán Ó Suilleabháin and Peig Sayers, also has a number of unique natural habitats and rare species. Already a special area of conservation, it is expected to be designated shortly as a special protected area for birds.

Last month Kerry County Council granted planning to An Blascaod Mór Teo, for the 330sq m construction, including a ranger room, a separate store for a tractor and a septic tank.

The appeals to An Bord Pleanála this week have been lodged by Sue Redican, the Blasket Island weaver, and by another third party.

Ms Redican, who has lived on the island for 20 years, said she feared the island's natural resources would be exploited for profit.

She has questioned how materials for the new building are to be transported from the pier and says the septic tank is inadequate.

Issues of scale and size and integration into the landscape have also been raised.

Dr Catherine McMullin, honorary planning officer with An Taisce in Kerry, said yesterday it was studying the appeal and expected to make a submission to An Bord Pleanála.

An Taisce has already questioned how a modern building will fit into an unspoilt island and how it is to be serviced with electricity.

The State has been attempting to purchase the island for almost 20 years.

It aims to turn it a national park and candidate for Unesco World Heritage Site status.

The Irish Times

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