Tuesday 12 February 2008

House knocked and rebuilt over concerns for wildlife

A detached house overlooking Dundalk Bay, which is an EU designated area of special conservation and a Natural Heritage Area, has been demolished and rebuilt on the same site following complaints to Louth County Council by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

It is alleged by the service that the development had "encroached" on to the bay, which is an important salt marsh and one of the most important sites in the country for winter wildfowl and waders.

The failure of Louth County Council to alert the service to the planning application and therefore allow it to make known any concerns it had in advance of a decision being made, was highlighted in a letter from the Minister for the Environment John Gormley to a local resident.

The split-level 320sq m house at the Loakers, Blackrock, is on a site bounded at the south by McGuigans rock, an outcrop that overlooks the bay and has views east and north over the mudflats and salt marsh towards the Cooley mountains.

It is in close proximity to the foreshore and the high water mark and in a letter to the council last November, after permission was granted, the National Parks and Wildlife Service said part of the salt marsh, "has already been encroached on to by the infilling with imported materials".

Wildlife service conservation ranger Kieran Buckley said staff were "aghast at what we saw. We raised the issue and we are monitoring the situation".

Louth County Council says the demolition of the house, which is now being constructed from sheet piling and cast concrete, was the result of an action taken by its enforcement department.

It says the house was originally "being constructed in the wrong location" and as a result of a survey it commissioned it was "indicated that work had been carried out below the high water mark, which involved the deposition and stockpiling of soil and the construction of vertical sheet piles".

This work was encroaching on a special protection and a Special Area of Conservation. The council says the house is now being constructed "with the dwelling repositioned to the original location granted" [ permission]. One of the conditions is the submission of a suitable landscaping plan.

The letter from the Minister acknowledges that the wildlife service only became aware of the plan to build on the site after local residents brought it to their attention.

The Irish Times


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