Tuesday 13 May 2008

Council takes action over unauthorised business park in east Clare

THE UNAUTHORISED landing of helicopters is one of the complaints of Clare County Council officials who have written to the operators of an unofficial business park at Gillogue in east Clare ordering them to cease all "unauthorised operations" at the facility and to "regularise matters" immediately.

The local authority has confirmed that it has written a warning letter to the operators of the former Burlington plant in Gillogue informing them that unauthorised development is being carried out at the facility, namely "the manufacturing of concrete and the landing and storage of helicopters for light maintenance and repairs".

Following a site visit by officials from Clare County Council, the local authority wrote to the facility managers last Friday to inform them that operations being undertaken by Bobby O'Connell Concrete and Sky Aviation were unauthorised.

A council spokesman said: "Other companies operating on site are not of immediate concern to the council and will be dealt with in due course.

"Following a site visit, we have warned the operators that we consider the operations of two specific companies to be unauthorised."

The council has also warned that in the event that this activity continues, an enforcement notice will be served. The council is awaiting a response from the operators.

Clare County Council previously confirmed that the unofficial business park was operating without the appropriate planning permission.

The former Burlington textiles plant at Gillogue was sold by Shannon Development to a Limerick businessman in 2006 for an estimated €8 million. Since then, the operators of the facility have opened the 30,000sq m (323,000sq ft) plant to several businesses, with plans to attract additional firms to the site.

Clare County Council has confirmed that operations at the plant now constitute a "change of use", which is in contravention of the planning permission originally granted to the factory.

According to a spokesman: "Planning was granted in July 1974 for a dyeing facility and plant and had strict conditions attached, particularly pertaining to the environment. Currently there are six or seven different companies based there and their operations constitute a 'change of use' at the plant and as such require planning permission."

The local residents association has also called on the owners of the plant to ensure that the facility is operated in accordance with planning regulations.

They want a weight and speed restriction imposed on the road where they live, along which gas and local water scheme pipes run.

They are also seeking assurances relating to safety at the facility and in their local area.

The manager of the park, Brian Whelan, said last month: "We will do all in our power to alleviate the concerns of locals."

Irish Times


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