Wednesday 16 July 2008

Date set for planning appeal on Great Blasket cafe development

LONG-RUNNING plans to provide a cafe and other services on Great Blasket island will be the subject of a Bord Pleanála hearing in Dingle next month.

Organisations and people who are objecting, or submitting reservations about the plans, have been invited to attend the hearing.

Approval was given to Blascaod Mór Teo, the company that owns most of the island, by Kerry County Council last November.

A €10 million Government plan to have the island designated a National Historic Park hinges on the green light being given to the development.

After planning was granted, Dingle solicitor Peter Callery, a director of Blascaod Mór Teo, said the government’s purchase of the island could proceed quickly if there was no appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

But appeals were soon lodged with the board. Concerns were expressed about the size of the building, effects on wildlife and the environment and waste management issues.

Nine parties who submitted objections, or observations, have been invited to the oral hearing. It is scheduled for August 5-7, at the Institute of Education and Celtic Culture, Green Street, Dingle.

As well as the applicants and the council, the following have also been invited to attend the oral hearing: An Taisce, Fáilte Ireland, the Heritage Council, the Arts Council, Sue Redican, Michael Sheeran, Virginia Brownlow, Britta Wilkins and Simon Hambrook.

Some local people are critical of the timing of the hearing, saying they may be too busy to attend as it will be held during the peak tourist season.

Blascaod Mór Teo, which owns 17 of the 25 holdings on the Great Blasket, has been engaged for many years in difficult purchase negotiations with the Government.

The company is seeking to develop a cafe, service building comprising a kitchen, stores, toilets, first aid and ranger room, before reaching a final agreement on its sale.

A previous application for a cafe was turned down, in 2004, on the grounds that the building would be too large and visually obtrusive.

Last November, Mr Callery welcomed the council’s granting of the all-clear for a smaller building.

But he also indicated his company may not go to the expense of submitting a third application in the event of current objections being upheld by An Bord Pleanála.

The decision to grant planning was also welcomed by the Office of Public Works which has been negotiating on behalf of the Government.

Evacuated in 1953, the Irish-speaking island was best known for its writers and storytellers and as a repository of the old Gaelic culture.

A number of ferries take visitors on day trips to the island, lying three miles off the west Kerry coastline.

Irish Examiner

No comments: