Tuesday 30 June 2009

Residents launch campaign to protect urban farm

RESIDENTS IN south Dublin have once again launched a campaign to help protect urban farm, Airfield, from new road proposals.

The 35-acre estate, which was bequeathed in trust to the people of Dublin by the Overend sisters, has been under threat from developers and road builders intermittently over the last 10 years. According to Friends of Airfield, the current threat is contained in the draft Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Development Plan 2010-2016. The plan includes an objective to investigate providing a “public transport corridor” along a route from the Drummartin Link Road to Dundrum Town Centre.

Two years ago, a similar proposal was rejected by councillors on the grounds it would have encroached on the lower fields of the estate. Friends of Airfield have called on councillors to reject the latest objective.

Submissions to the council on all aspects of the draft development plan close next Friday, July 3rd.

Irish Times


Waste firms warn council on incineration

DUBLIN CITY Council has been accused of altering the terms of waste collection permits with the aim of directing household and commercial waste to the proposed municipal incinerator at Poolbeg.

The Irish Waste Management Association (IWMA), which claims to represent 95 per cent of Ireland’s private waste management sector in Ireland, may take legal action against the council to have the new terms dropped.

Leading firm of solicitors AL Goodbody wrote to the council earlier this month claiming its move was contrary to the Waste Management Plan for the Dublin Region 2005-2010 and the Waste Management Regulations of 2007 and 2008.

The disputed clause specifies that a permit holder “shall ensure that all, or such specified proportion, of waste . . . is delivered to . . . such facilities or types of facilities so designated by the relevant local authority” in each functional area.

The IWMA claims this is designed by the council to “direct more waste to facilities it owns or has a financial interest in, such as the proposed Poolbeg incinerator”, which is being planned as a public-private partnership project.

According to the association, it was inserted into a waste collection permit granted last month to Veolia Environmental Services (Ireland) Ltd, of Ballymount Cross, Tallaght, a subsidiary of the French conglomerate Veolia, which also runs Luas.

In a letter to Minister for the Environment John Gormley, the IWMA claimed that the new clause “could restrict competition, cost consumers more and presents a clear conflict of interest for the council as both a regulator and market participant”.

One of its members, Panda Waste Services, is challenging the council’s decision to alter the existing waste permit regime, under which several private firms operate, to one where collection is carried out by either by the council or by a single firm appointed by it.

Waste collection permits for private companies are renewable every five years by the city council, acting as the region’s licensing authority, in line with the regional waste management plan, which also covers Fingal, South Dublin and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

The plan allows for permits to dictate which types of waste should be sent to a particular tier in the “waste hierarchy” – for example recycling, recovery (incineration) or disposal (landfill), all prioritised on the basis of environmental sustainability.

The IWMA insists the new terms “reserve the right for the council to designate which specific facilities the waste should be directed to”.

Jim Kells, the association’s chairman, said this “can only be with the Poolbeg incinerator in mind. It is the only facility the council has such a critical commercial interest in.”

Dublin City Council did not provide a reaction yesterday.

Irish Times


Sunday 28 June 2009

Former AIB Donnybrook bank to be converted into supermarket

The former AIB bank branch in Donnybrook, Dublin, is to be converted into a supermarket by Superquinn directors David Courtney and Padraig Breen after Dublin City Council gave the plan the thumbs up.

Encap Properties is to develop the shop, a gym, restaurant and offices on the site.

Courtney, who is currently facing legal action from Barclays Bank in relation to loans for a proposed development in Finglas, north Dublin, was one of the original investors in Select Retail Holdings, which bought Superquinn from the Quinn family.

Superquinn has said that it is not involved in the Donnybrook development. The building was sold by AIB in 2006 as part of its sale and leaseback programme.

Sunday Tribune


Big four: how the downturn has hit the country's leading developers

The Longford native has a 40% stake in Castlethorn Construction, one of the largest developers in the state, whose assets include the Dundrum Town Centre and a site earmarked for an expansion of it. It is also behind the Adamstown development near Lucan and has plans for a major development at Woodbrook in Shankill. The remainder of the company is owned by the family of the late Liam Maye and builder John Fitzsimons.

Castlethorn's auditors, BDO Simpson Xavier, recently said there was uncertainty over the precise carrying value of Castlethorn's assets because of economic developments. Castlethorn's accounts were not qualified. Accounts for the Woodbrook site and a site at Shanganagh show a shareholders' deficit of more than €17m on 30 June 2007, up from less than €500,000 the previous year. During the year Castlethorn provided management services worth more than €5.9m to the company.

O'Reilly formed Chartered Land in recent years for his own developments. Since setting it up, he acquired part of the Pavilions in Swords and an adjacent site which he is planning to develop as well as a 50% of the Ilac Centre in Dublin city centre. He is also planning to develop the €1bn Dublin Central retail-led scheme at O'Connell Street. Chartered is also involved in a €300m office, leisure and retail scheme at Grand Canal Dock. O'Reilly developed a €110m retail centre on South King Street perpendicular to Grafton Street but sold 90% of it to an Anglo Irish Bank private equity fund. Neil Callanan

Seán Dunne

The Carlow-born developer has substantial property interests in Dublin 4, including the former Jurys Doyle and Berkeley Court hotels, which he bought for nearly €380m and now runs as D4 Hotels after planning permission for a major redevelopment of the seven-acre site was refused by An Bord Pleanála.

Dunne also owns an office building called Hume House, over which he is involved in a legal case with property advisers CBRE, and the Donnybrook Mall which he is planning to redevelop. He owns offices and land at AIB's headquarters in Ballsbridge and land in Rathfarnham.

Dunne owns a large number of companies, one of which, DCD Builders, had an emphasis of matter inserted in its accounts for the year ended 31 July 2007 by KPMG, which said the financial statements had been "prepared on a going concern basis, the validity of which depends on continuing financial support, which will enable the group and company to realise amounts for its property-related assets in excess of their carrying value".

During the year it made a loss of more than €14.5m, reducing shareholders' funds to just under €27.7m. Net debt stood at more than €418m at the end of the financial year.

A regular in Doheny & Nesbitt's pub at Baggot Street in Dublin 2, Dunne is one of the few developers who will be largely unaffected by the introduction of the National Asset Management Agency, as most of his borrowings were done with Ulster Bank, which is owned by RBS and is therefore covered by the British government's asset-protection scheme.

Paddy Kelly

Kelly told the Commercial Court in March he was thinking of entering bankruptcy proceedings as his liabilities exceeded his assets.

Kelly's relationship with the banks has become increasingly fraught. In a recent interview he launched a ferocious attack on them, saying: "The banks are being bailed out and they are putting the boot in left, right and centre. They're not lending and they are getting away with telling lies." Kelly claimed he was hounded by the banks during the boom years and is now being hounded for different reasons.

Several judgements have been registered against Kelly that could remove him from the property game permanently. Anglo Irish, a key lender to Kelly, has stopped the developer availing of some credit facilities, but it is understood the bank recently extended additional credit lines to the developer .

Recently Kelly and his son Simon had a €2m judgment entered against them by Investec, the South African bank. In May ACC secured orders against Kelly and his three children requiring them to pay €16m arising from guarantees over property. A stay has been placed on the execution of this judgement. Kelly previously accepted a judgment for €6.1m against him personally over failure to repay other loans advanced by ACC. The €6.1m judgment related to several loans advanced by ACC, including a €4.8m loan relating to the construction of 62 hotel units at the Clarion Hotel, near Blanchardstown in Dublin. Emmet Oliver

Bernard McNamara

Clare man McNamara has been a less frequent visitor to the courts in the past six months than either Carroll or Kelly. His chief company, Michael McNamara and Company, has unlimited status so it does not have to disclose its financial position publicly. However McNamara is likely to be seriously under water in terms of the valuation of his Burlington Hotel site, although he has sought to have the site rezoned.

McNamara, a resident of Ailesbury Road, was once believed to be worth almost €240m, but his wealth will have shrunk massively in the downturn.

The developer, a significant borrower with Anglo Irish Bank, is still getting support from that institution and Bank of Ireland, according to accounts for his companies. But in a reflection of straitened times for developers, McNamara's companies have been hit with a litany of "emphasis of matter" warnings by their own auditors.

One firm, Hannamie, recently said directors were having difficulty verifying the carrying value of property-related assets in the context of "current market conditions". Another key McNamara project, the South Wharf site at Poolbeg, is also likely to have plummeted in value. Anglo Irish recently took additional security on its €293m loan to Becbay, the company owned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, McNamara and Derek Quinlan, which paid €411m for the site.

McNamara was a member of the Léargas consortium that was scheduled to build Thornton Hall prison, but the government said the price quoted was prohibitive and it is to be re-tendered. McNamara's group said they had put three years of "work and expense" into the project.

Sunday Tribune


Dublin Airport clashes with Park's Cotter over car parks

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) is appealing against planning permission recently granted for a privately owned car park, claiming that parking is already at full capacity.

Michael Cotter's Park Developments was recently given permission by Fingal County Council to build a car park with 1,200 spaces on the site of the Cloghran stud farm, north of the airport.

However, the DAA says parking at the airport will already be at full capacity if its jointly-owned facility at Ballystruan goes ahead.

When the development of Terminal 2 was being considered, long-term parking at Dublin Airport was capped at 26,800 spaces and the DAA claims that giving both developments the go-ahead will breach this cap.

The Ballystruan development is a joint project between the DAA and Gerry Gannon and is also currently the subject of an appeal. This development was also limited to 1,200 spaces. However, the developers are seeking to have this increased substantially on appeal.

A DAA spokesman denied the authority is attempting to dominate long-term parking at the airport. "We currently have a live application in train for a long-term car park... If this were also approved, the cap would be breached," he said. The DAA, led by chief executive Declan Collier, is heavily dependent on car-parking revenues.

Park Developments is also appealing the decision to give planning to its car park and is seeking to have development contributions reduced from €9.15m to less than €8,000. When granting permission, the council included two multi-million euro contribution levies – €3.8m under the Development Contribution Scheme and €5.35m to go towards the part funding of the Metro North. However, Park Developments claims the levies are grossly incorrect and is asking to have them dramatically reduced.

In its submission to An Bord Pleanála, Park Developments argues the development-contribution levy applies solely to buildings and does not include open-air car-park facilities. As the only building proposed for the site is a 72sq m control office, the company argues, the contribution set by the council should have been just €7,992. In addition, the submission argues the €5.35m levy applied in support of Metro North should be reduced to nothing.

The levy applies to infrastructure in the vicinity of the Metro which will benefit from its scheme. However, Park Developments claims because customers will be driving to the car park, they will not use or benefit from the Metro, so the levy is not applicable.

Sunday Tribune


TCD to turn listed bank building into bar

TRINITY College Dublin is set to expand into Temple Bar and renovate buildings on Anglesea Street and Foster Place in order to build a new bar and restaurant.

The former Allied Irish Bank premises is set to be revamped from a banking hall into a trendy bar which will span two floors. The entire development will stretch across seven buildings.

Also included in the extensive plans are proposals for a retail outlet on ground-floor level.

A spokeswoman for the
college said: "Planning permission is being sought to upgrade the entire property to accommodate improved educational facilities and comply with current building regulations and accessibility standards."

The upper levels of the buildings will be overhauled and extended to provide academic accommodation – a mixture of teaching rooms, study rooms and offices for the faculty of arts (humanities) and social sciences.

The work will require the removal of 200-year-old banking vaults.

Four of the buildings are listed as protected structures.

The body, which represents businesses in Temple Bar, Traders in the Area Supporting the Cultural Quarter (TASCQ), will discuss the scheme in its next sub-committee meeting.

"We are not anti-development in any sense, but we will look over the proposals when we get them," said Martin Harte, executive manager of TASCQ.

"In general, the area of development in question is an important gateway to Temple Bar and we usually support plans for advancement of the area."

Local publican and owner of The Bank on College Green Charlie Chawke said that while he thought the area had enough bars, he was in support of any progress which enhanced the area for tourists and locals alike.

"If they get through the rigorous work such a project demands it will be a good move for the area. The buildings themselves are very beautiful and it will be interesting to see what happens," he said.

It is understood the redesign of the premises has been prepared by Moloney O'Beirne architects.

Sunday Tribune


State agencies divided in row over Galway bypass

A NUMBER of different government agencies are set to take opposing sides of a bitter High Court battle over a controversial €317m Galway city motorway.

A judicial review of An Bord Pleanála's decision to approve part of the Galway city outer bypass will be heard in the High Court's Commercial Court from Tuesday.

Environmentalist Peter Sweetman is taking a case against the state and An Bord Pleanála. Environmental group Hands Across the Corrib of Ballinafoyle, Co Galway, claims that a decision by An Bord Pleanála to approve part of the massive project was based on a flawed environmental impact assessment.

The National Park and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Department of the Environment have joined with objectors such as Sweetman and Hands Across the Corrib in the case against An Bord Pleanála, which in turn has the support of the National Roads Authority and Galway County Council.

The NPWS and the Department of the Environment, which will be represented by the attorney general, is arguing that the decision by An Bord Pleanála may contravene an EU habitat directive.

Galway TD Frank Fahey, who is the chair of the Oireachtas Transport Committee, has called for co-operation and mediation between the opposing government agencies on the issue as he believes a protracted court battle could jeopardise the future of the controversial project.

Fahey said: "That government agencies are opposing each other in a High Court case in this way is ludicrous.

"The relevant agencies should come together to discuss the potential contraventions to the habitat directive, with the viewpoint to reaching a compromise that would allow this vital infrastructural project to proceed.

"The Galway City outer bypass is crucial for the development of the city and the delay to its development has already proved damaging for the city."

Irish Times


Gorey man hit with €40k bill after fighting CPO bid

A FATHER of five who fought a compulsory purchase order on his land has been left with a €40,000 bill which he claims the National Roads Authority had said it would pay.

Tadhg O'Scannail (50) from Gorey, Co Wexford, decided to fight the NRA's bid to secure part of his land under a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for a controversial motorway truck stop in the area. He claims he was told his costs for an engineer and a solicitor would be covered by the NRA in the event of any effort to block the CPO.

But the NRA says it never made any such promise and that in the end his land wasn't even wanted. "I am a self-employed plumber," O'Scannail said. "My wife is a nurse who has been hit by all these levies. I don't have a penny and I have three kids in school, one doing the Junior Cert and one starting first year next year.

"It's taken me 10 years to get the house the way it is and it's still not finished. My property is devalued by the economic climate anyway and who is going to buy a house beside a service area?

"This was supposed to be my pension and security for my children but now we are stuck behind a truck stop."

According to O'Scannail, the NRA told him his costs would be covered, or partly covered, in the event that his land became the subject of a CPO.

He incurred various costs including €25,000 for an engineer, €11,000 for a sound engineer, and €5,000 for a barrister to represent him at an oral hearing.

However, the NRA later notified him that a CPO would not be required on his land following a reassessment of the project. "I have been told nothing. We had to make a passionate plea to the inspector in An Bord Pleanála to ask if he would make a recommendation to cover the costs. They are under no legal requirement to do so," said O'Scannail.

"My whole problem is the unfair manner in which we have been dealt with. [The NRA] have misrepresented themselves on a number of occasions. But the NRA says any decision to incur costs before the official CPO process was initiated was "his responsibility". Its spokesman said that a 'notice to treat', which makes the CPO process official, was never furnished and that the decision not to take the land was communicated as soon as they knew.

Sunday Tribune


Group seeks clarity on exclusion zone at sea

WORK BY the Solitaire ship on laying the offshore pipeline began yesterday in Broadhaven Bay as there were more calls for political leadership and legal clarification on the issues involved.

The Department of Transport confirmed last night that no order had been issued for a 500-metre exclusion zone around the Solitaire. It has issued only one marine notice on work in the bay, which makes no reference to an exclusion zone. Gardaí have said they are policing an exclusion zone “passed by the department”.

Earlier, the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association (EIFA), which has a legal agreement with Shell to facilitate the work, said it was “gravely concerned” at the Government’s refusal to clarify the legal situation.

“It is not good enough for a legislative authority to refuse to take responsibility for this project once again, as it has done from day one,” EIFA chairman Eddie Diver told The Irish Times.

He was commenting on Thursday’s arrest of fishermen Pat and Jonathan O’Donnell, who had been out on the water watching their fishing gear hours before the arrival of the Solitaire. Both fishermen’s boats have been detained indefinitely by gardaí under the Maritime Safety Act.

The 300m ship, which has a crew of 420 when at full complement, was escorted into the bay late on Thursday night amid heavy security on land and on water.

Two naval patrol ships, the LE Orla and LE Emer, are assisting the Garda, with inflatable vessels provided by the Naval Service, Garda Water Unit and Shell’s security company, Integrated Risk Management Services (IRMS).

Five Shell to Sea kayakers, among a small group of less than 50 at the Rossport Solidarity Camp, came within 100m of the vessel late on Thursday night. The five were apprehended by IRMS, but no arrests were made.

The EIFA, which has not been party to any protests on water, said the “refusal by the Government to clarify a situation of conflicting rights – a constitutional right to fish for those licensed to do so, and a temporary foreshore licence for a private company – has resulted in one young man being kept in Castlerea prison, one boat has sunk, two boats are detained, and the Garda and Naval Service have been put in an impossible position”.

The O’Donnells are among a minority of EIFA members who declined to accept compensation from Shell for temporary loss of livelihood during pipelaying due to their concern over the impact of the Corrib gas refinery discharge pipe on the marine environment.

Community groups Pobal Chill Chomáin and Pobal Le Chéile, which are not party to any protests on water condemned the arrests.

Spokesmen for the groups, Vincent McGrath of the Rossport Five and Ciarán Ó Murchú, ex-Air Corps pilot and managing director of Coláiste Uisce, warned that “intervention is required . . . before this situation seriously deteriorates and this development results in serious injury or death”.

Irish Times


Best-selling writer appeals Clare wind farm decision

AUTHOR Niall Williams says he will be forced to move from his west Clare home if a planned 120m (395ft) high wind farm is built just more than 500m from his property.

The author of seven novels, Williams has lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála against a Clare County Council decision to grant planning permission to Aonghus Coughlan for a two-turbine wind- farm.

The Dubliner and his wife, Christine Breen, moved to Ms Breen’s ancestral family home in the isolated village of Kiltumper, near Kilmihil, in 1985 to write.

In their objection lodged with the council, Williams said the “flashing” effect caused by the rotating blades of the wind turbines, when the sun was shining, would have a nauseating, disorientating effect because of a particular eye condition he had.

“As a result, my lifestyle in Kiltumper, my home for nearly 25 years, would be enormously compromised, and because of fears for my health, I would be forced to sell and move from the area . . . Needless to say, in the event of the windfarm going ahead, we would seek legal representation to address the liability for the loss of our livelihood here.”

But letters of support for the plan have been lodged by local organisations including Kilmihil GAA Club, Kilmihil soccer club and Kilmihil farmers’ association.

The council rejected the Williams’s arguments and gave the the plan the go-ahead, stating it would not seriously injure the amenities of the area. A decision is due on the appeal later this year.

Meanwhile, plans for a separate €50 million wind farm near the Co Clare village of Lissycasey are being threatened by a claim to turf-cutting rights going back generations.

Last month, ESB subsidiary Hibernian Windpower lodged plans for an 11-turbine wind farm at Boolneagleragh in the region.

Irish Times


Company defends security operations at Corrib gas sites

SHELL EP Ireland yesterday defended the ongoing security operation at its Corrib gas sites in north Mayo on the final day of a Bord Pleanála hearing into the development.

Shell also revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency this week categorised an application by the company for a modification of the project’s Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Licence – to fulfil an agreement with the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association about discharge to Broadhaven Bay – as “a license review” rather than “a technical amendment”.

In a closing statement to the board hearing into Shell’s modified pipeline route, Esmonde Keane, counsel for the company, observed that the “current pipeline application must be seen in the context of the developments which it serves and its strategic importance”.

He said that the large security presence was justified in light of threats to Shell personnel.

“Repeated references have been made by objectors to security. It must be pointed out that the necessity for security and the presence of An Garda Síochána has been to keep the peace in the light of numerous attempts by individuals to cause damage and injury to persons lawfully working on the site.”

Alluding to the long history of the project, Mr Keane said this application was before the board “against a background of a previously approved route which had met intractable opposition from one section of the community and which had resulted in significant efforts to alleviate concerns which were held by certain members of the community.”

He cited the various permissions and consents and noted that “no other development proposal has been subject to such an amount of study and surveys over such a period of time”.

Responding to “inaccuracies” in other submissions, Mr Keane argued that all of “the development which has or is currently being carried out has been properly assessed and is in compliance with all national and European legislation”.

Addressing the alternative onshore proposal for a terminal at the remote Glinsk site, Mr Keane said “not only would the landfall at Glinsk involve tunnelling through significant cliffs but the corridor commencing at Glinsk would traverse the Glenamoy Bog Complex for approximately 5.5km and would involve impacting on extensive areas of undisturbed blanket bog”.

Earlier, in her closing remarks, Maura Harrington of Shell to Sea dismissed the Department of Energy’s contention that the Corrib gas was intrinsic to the country’s future “security of supply”.

She said: “In his evidence to the hearing Mr Stuart Basford confirmed that the maximum flow rate of Corrib (350 million standard cubic feet per day) would only last to Year Three.

“Mr Basford further confirmed that, given the country’s current energy requirements, even the maximum flow rate in the first three years would not provide 60 per cent of these energy needs,” said Ms Harrington. A decision is expected around August.

Irish Times


Thursday 25 June 2009

New codes to protect archaeological sites

NEW MOVES to improve archaeological protection on major building projects were announced yesterday. The new codes of practice will apply to all new infrastructural projects such as motorways, power lines and wind farms.

Their introduction follows a surge in business in recent years among firms involved in archaeological surveys and excavations due to the State’s motorway programme.

More recently the archaeology industry has received a renewed surge in business due to the number of applications for wind farms.

Developed jointly by the ESB, Eirgrid, the Irish Concrete Federation and the Department of Environment, the new codes will allow work to improve infrastructure while “addressing archaeological implications in a structured manner, sensitive to the need to protect archaeological sites and monuments”.

Launching the codes yesterday, Minister for the Environment John Gormley said the organisations involved had shown a strong commitment to the conservation of archaeology in their plans and to an overall approach that is sustainable and sensitive to Ireland’s unique heritage.

He added: “The codes show that development and conservation can go hand in hand . . . “Being pro-heritage does not equate to being anti-development.”

Irish Times


Irish architects win recognition abroad

WITH IRISH architects losing their jobs week after week, it’s heartening to find that some of their best work is winning international recognition. Latest is a 2009 Green Good Design Award for Dublin City Council’s York Street housing scheme, designed by Seán Harrington Architects.

This design accolade is awarded jointly by the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies and the Chicago Athenaeum. Hundreds of submissions were received from over 40 countries, and the winners will be exhibited next month in Athens.

York Street incorporates many sustainable design features, including energy-efficient heating systems using solar panels, glazed “winter garden” balconies, high levels of insulation, “green sedum roofs” and rainwater harvesting to irrigate the residents’ courtyard garden.

Meanwhile, the Seán O’Casey Community Centre in Dublin’s Docklands by O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects, is one of six schemes shortlisted for the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) Lubetkin Prize, which is awarded for the best international scheme by institute members.

It’s up against competition from three Olympic projects in Beijing – the National Stadium by Herzog de Meuron, Beijing International Airport by Foster + Partners and the Watercube National Swimming Centre by PTW Architects – as well as the British High Commission in Colombo by Richard Murphy and Museum Brandhorst in Munich by Sauerbuch Hutton. The Lubetkin Prize is named in honour of Georgia-born architect Berthold Lubetkin (1901-1990), who worked in Paris before coming to London in the 1930s to establish the influential Tecton Group. It is awarded for the most outstanding building outside the EU by an RIBA member and is chosen from winners of RIBA international awards.

Irish Times


Shell asks fishermen to move pots from bay

ON THE EVE of the arrival off Co Mayo of the pipelaying ship Solitaire, Shell EP Ireland has asked four Mayo fishermen to move their gear from Broadhaven Bay.

However, the Garda says it has responded to a request from one of the four fishermen, Pat O’Donnell, to provide protection for him and his gear if requested.

The Solitaire , described as the world’s largest pipelaying ship, had to abandon attempts to lay an offshore pipe last summer. It is scheduled to complete renewed attempts to lay the pipe from Broadhaven Bay out to the wellhead by the end of August.

One and “possibly two” Naval Service ships have been deployed to assist the Garda amid anticipated protests.

The ship is expected to arrive off Co Mayo hours after a Bord Pleanála hearing into the onshore pipeline completes its work in Belmullet after an 18-day sitting.

Mr O’Donnell, who is a Shell To Sea supporter and has concerns about the impact of the Corrib gas discharge pipe on the marine environment, reported damage to some of his pots yesterday to Belmullet Garda station.

Two weeks ago one of his boats was sunk in an alleged boarding by armed men. During the Solitaire ’s visit last year he was arrested twice by gardaí, but was released shortly before a court hearing challenging the terms of his detention.

A letter sent by Shell EP Ireland yesterday to Mr O’Donnell, his two brothers Martin and Tony and son Jonathan asks them to remove their gear temporarily to a safe location or it may be obliged to do same. The letter offers “fair and equitable” compensation for disruption to fishing activities.

Mr O’Donnell, his two brothers and his son have 3,000 crab pots in Broadhaven Bay. Mr O’Donnell told The Irish Times he had “no wish for any conflict with Shell” but had asked the company to “demonstrate its lawful authority to remove his gear”.

While Shell holds a foreshore licence for the offshore pipelaying work, the O’Donnells hold fishing licences, and the fishermen’s legal advisers say the company has no legal authority to remove fishing gear.

They are not party to an agreement between local fishermen and Shell which involves compensation for members of the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association.

Under a notice by the Department of Transport, all vessels are required to “keep clear” of the works, and a 500m exclusion zone has been put in place.

Chief Supt Tony McNamara, head of the Mayo Garda division, confirmed that two officers had visited Mr O’Donnell after his request this week for protection.

“Mr O’Donnell could not identify specific threats to his gear, but he was asked to contact us and give adequate notice for same,” said Chief Supt McNamara.

Irish Times


Ministers and Garda accused of prejudicing Bord Pleanála hearing

GOVERNMENT MINISTERS, the Garda Síochána and the Naval Service have been accused of prejudicing the An Bord Pleanála hearing into the modified pipeline route for Shell EP Ireland’s Corrib gas project.

On the penultimate and 18th day of the hearing in Belmullet, Co Mayo, Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan was also accused of incompetence, of “ignoring” the Advantica report, while his officials were told they were trying to “deceive the hearing” by changing a key recommendation of Advantica – an independent safety review commissioned by his predecessor Noel Dempsey.

In his closing statement, Ed Moran, a retired teacher, said the parading of small Naval Service vessels through Belmullet on Wednesday night, coupled with the earlier arrival of the Garda Water Unit and a northwest forum meeting – held on Monday last and attended by three Government Ministers – was “a show of force” ahead of the arrival of the Solitaire pipe-laying vessel.

“The extent to which this is being orchestrated and media-fed while a hearing is being conducted and a decision has yet to be made by An Bord Pleanála [about the onshore pipeline] means that it has prejudiced itself,” said Mr Moran.

Rossport Five’s Micheál Ó Seighin observed that the work of the board had been compromised by “the ongoing implementation of other and overlapping aspects of this split project, accompanied by statements and activities by Government Ministers and official spokespeople that indicate loud and clear that this is a done deal”.

“The contradiction headlined by the work being progressed at a rapid pace by SEPIL at Glengad lent or bestowed a surreal element to the hearing,” said Mr Ó Seighin.

He also observed the hearing had not clarified how former minister Frank Fahey had issued a consent for a project straddling the high water mark without “an initial extant planning permission”.

Responding to a Department of Energy closing statement, John Monaghan, for Pobal Chill Chomáin, said official Bob Hanna “at the eleventh hour” was attempting to “deceive” the hearing “with a new submission”.

Mr Hanna had said the developer “will be obliged to verify to the Minister the integrity of the design, construction, installation, commissioning and maintenance of production facilities”, which will then be audited by Mr Ryan “prior to giving his consent to first production”. Mr Monaghan pointed out that Advantica recommended that “a formal integrity management plan is established prior to construction” and not to commissioning. He also revealed that retired Army bomb disposal expert Comdt Patrick Boyle had told Mr Ryan that the remote Glinsk option – proposed by local priests – was the safest one.

Monica Muller observed that, after eight years of the community trying to help Shell make Corrib safe, she has “no expectations or trust that this applicant would comply with any conditions that the board may impose”.

Fr Michael Nallen, parish priest of Kilcommon, said the project was underpinned by “political motivation” and that its essence, despite the apparent modifications, was the same as when first proposed.

He criticised the manner in which the media was portraying his community.

Irish Times


Bord rejects 11-storey block at Four Courts

PLANS TO demolish the six-storey former motor tax office behind the Four Courts in Dublin and replace it with a part seven and 11-storey block have been rejected by An Bord Pleanála.

Linders of Smithfield, which bought the 1970s River House at Chancery Street from Dublin City Council, secured permission for the redevelopment from the city planners subject to a number of conditions, including one that a revised façade be used.

The developers had proposed to wrap the building in what was described as “an external woven mesh screen that unifies the building and gives it an abstract quality”. This was intended to reduce the glare and solar gain associated with the east and west façades. The mesh was also to wrap over the top of the building to screen a plant area at roof level.

The new development was to have 8,636sq m (92,957sq ft) to accommodate 450 workers. The layout provided for a café at ground floor level.

An Taisce said it was seriously concerned about the impact of the proposed building which appeared significantly larger than the dome on the Four Courts “which is a pre-eminently important building and is one of the images of Dublin”.

The inspector from An Bord Pleanála said he found the proposed building to be “insensitively large in scale, poorly proportioned, less than elegant, even threatening and with the proposed use of the mesh rather gimmicky”.

Irish Times


Tuesday 23 June 2009

O'Callaghan in €9m land purchase row

DEVELOPER Owen O'Callaghan is involved in a legal row over whether his company is entitled to terminate an alleged agreement for a €9m land purchase.

It centres on an alleged deal between his company and Sean and Eileen O'Sullivan of Glenhouse, Frankfield, Grange, Douglas, Cork, for the purchase of 37 acres of lands at Ballyorban, Douglas.

Mr O'Callaghan claims the agreement was linked to a separate agreement to buy the grounds of Cork Constitution rugby club for €26m and move the club to the Ballyorban lands.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly admitted the proceedings by O'Callaghan Properties to the Commercial Court yesterday. Separate proceedings seeking specific performance of the €9m agreement had also been issued by the O'Sullivans and will be addressed in the O'Callaghan proceedings.

The O'Sullivans claim that O'Callaghan Properties is not entitled to rescind the agreement.

Irish Independent


Thomond Park voted public’s favourite building

MUNSTER might not have won the Heineken Cup this year but the province can claim another title as its home ground, Thomond Park in Limerick has scooped a prestigious architecture award.

The redeveloped rugby stadium ground was voted the public’s favourite Irish building in the annual awards ceremony hosted by Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland in Dublin last night.

The famous home of Munster rugby, which now has a 26,500-capacity, was re-opened last year following a 20-month construction project that cost around €40 million.

Plans for the new Thomond Park were designed by leading architectural firm, Murray O’Laoire.

One of the practice’s founders, Hugh Murray – a brother of the Chief Justice John Murray – said he was delighted to accept the Public Choice award "as an architect, a Limerick man and a Munster supporter."

"The firm is really pleased that the project is getting the recognition it deserves," said Mr Murray. "Maintaining the atmosphere and close relationship between players and spectators was a key requirement."

The winner of the RIAI’s Public Choice award was chosen by listeners of RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland programme.

No doubt backed by the famous support of Munster rugby fans, Thomond Park easily beat off strong competition, receiving around 37% of the 5,000 votes submitted in the online poll. Other popular public buildings such as the new Opera House in Wexford and the new library in Abbeyleix, Co Laois finished in second and third place respectively.

The much-praised Opera House, designed by OPW architects and Keith Williams Architects, went on to win the award for best cultural building, while De Blacam & Meagher received the Best Conservation/Restoration Award for their work on the Abbeyleix library.

Murray O’Laoire also won an award for its design for the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore, Co Offaly in the category for healthcare building.

However, Thomond was beaten by the Ballyfermot Leisure & Youth Centre Project for the award for Best Leisure Building.

A total of 17 projects, ranging from small house extensions to large-scale public building projects, were presented with their awards by Environment Minister John Gormley.

Irish Examiner


Noisy neighbours could be hit with ASBOs

HOME and car owners who allow their alarms to blare continuously could be hit by fines or even an ASBO behaviour warning under new legislation to be brought before the Oireachtas this autumn.

The new laws, which will allow local authorities to directly shut down the alarms of repeat offenders, are currently being prepared by environment minister John Gormley.

The proposals will also allow gardaí to intervene if residents complain frequently enough about a specific house or car.

Complaints about noisy alarms going off throughout the night are amongst the most common complaints received by local authorities, landlords and the gardaí.

The new noise pollution legislation will also apply to construction sites as well as commercial premises, particularly pubs and nightclubs.

A code of practice will be put in place for construction, commercial and domestic property-holders with strict rules on what is acceptable.

Details of the scheme released by the Department of Justice said gardaí could also be called in to deal with repeat offenders.

The department said: "Local authorities will have more effective and speedier enforcement powers to deal with nuisances from particular noise sources, including specific powers of direct intervention in the case of continuously sounding alarms.

"It is also proposed to extend some of the enhanced powers to An Garda Síochaná in certain circumstances. There will, in addition, be measures to increase awareness of noise nuisance and of how it can be remedied.

"Under the bill, it will be possible to prescribe time limits for the operation of alarms and to provide for direct intervention to disable alarms from the outside of premises and to issue fixed-payment notices for breaches of the time limit.

"In circumstances where the noise nuisance relating to neighbours is anti-social within the meaning of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, a member of the Garda Síochaná may issue a behaviour warning."

The Department of the Environment, which is drafting the legislation, said the alarm laws were a follow-up on a commitment made in the Programme for Government and were being treated as "a matter of priority".

A total of 235 submissions had been received from members of the public after a discussion paper was published last August, the department said. "The deadline for submissions on the consultation has now passed and the submissions received have been considered.

"Following the consultation process, the general scheme of a bill on noise nuisance was developed by this department. Last month... [the] Minister for the Environment brought the general scheme to cabinet to seek approval to commence the drafting of the bill. The general scheme was approved and it is anticipated that a draft bill will go before the Oireachtas this autumn."

Sunday Tribune


Noisy neighbours could be hit with ASBOs

HOME and car owners who allow their alarms to blare continuously could be hit by fines or even an ASBO behaviour warning under new legislation to be brought before the Oireachtas this autumn.

The new laws, which will allow local authorities to directly shut down the alarms of repeat offenders, are currently being prepared by environment minister John Gormley.

The proposals will also allow gardaí to intervene if residents complain frequently enough about a specific house or car.

Complaints about noisy alarms going off throughout the night are amongst the most common complaints received by local authorities, landlords and the gardaí.

The new noise pollution legislation will also apply to construction sites as well as commercial premises, particularly pubs and nightclubs.

A code of practice will be put in place for construction, commercial and domestic property-holders with strict rules on what is acceptable.

Details of the scheme released by the Department of Justice said gardaí could also be called in to deal with repeat offenders.

The department said: "Local authorities will have more effective and speedier enforcement powers to deal with nuisances from particular noise sources, including specific powers of direct intervention in the case of continuously sounding alarms.

"It is also proposed to extend some of the enhanced powers to An Garda Síochaná in certain circumstances. There will, in addition, be measures to increase awareness of noise nuisance and of how it can be remedied.

"Under the bill, it will be possible to prescribe time limits for the operation of alarms and to provide for direct intervention to disable alarms from the outside of premises and to issue fixed-payment notices for breaches of the time limit.

"In circumstances where the noise nuisance relating to neighbours is anti-social within the meaning of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, a member of the Garda Síochaná may issue a behaviour warning."

The Department of the Environment, which is drafting the legislation, said the alarm laws were a follow-up on a commitment made in the Programme for Government and were being treated as "a matter of priority".

A total of 235 submissions had been received from members of the public after a discussion paper was published last August, the department said. "The deadline for submissions on the consultation has now passed and the submissions received have been considered.

"Following the consultation process, the general scheme of a bill on noise nuisance was developed by this department. Last month... [the] Minister for the Environment brought the general scheme to cabinet to seek approval to commence the drafting of the bill. The general scheme was approved and it is anticipated that a draft bill will go before the Oireachtas this autumn."

Sunday Tribune


Metro works to demolish part of St Patrick’s college

Some of the walls and trees at St Patrick’s teacher training college in Drumcondra, Dublin, will be knocked down as part of ‘enabling works’ for the Metro North project.

The works will also include the building of a ventilation shaft for the rail project near to a children’s playground. The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) is seeking tenders for the work, which includes the relocation of a grass recreational area and the reinforcement of walls.

The preferred route for the 18-kilometre Metro North - due to be built between Swords and St Stephen’s Green in the city centre - runs along the west side of the grounds of the training college. The RPA has been in discussions with the management of the college and specified that contractors would seek to minimise disruption during any works.

The works - including the building of the 25-metre deep ventilation shaft for the underground line - are expected to take about six months to complete.

‘‘The area would be sealed off and made safe during and after the construction works. We have worked very closely with college management on these plans,” said an RPA spokesman.

He said that tenders had been sought for a number of works - including the removal and relocation of the Daniel O’Connell statue on O’Connell Street - even though a decision will not be made on a railway order for the Metro North until September.

This means that work could start immediately if the order is granted for the multi-billion euro transport system. An oral hearing on the Metro North project went into recess in May, and is expected to restart soon. When it is complete, An Bord Pleanála will make a decision on the railway order, but enabling works cannot begin for a further two months to allow for judicial review.

Separately, the RPA has also invited tenders for the management and operation of all Luas park-and-ride facilities, including at least two new facilities that will be built for the extensions of the two tram lines.

One of these will be in Cheeverstown - for the Luas Red line extension to Saggart - and will have 300 spaces. The location of a facility for the extension of the Green line to Cherrywood is still being decided.

Sunday Business Post


Coillte eyes property development

The company controls 7 per cent of all land in the country, and is now seeking to partner with property developers and building firms to develop projects.

Coillte has issued a tender inviting proposals from property companies and intends to set up a panel of potential partners, which it will draw from for individual projects.

According to tender documents, the company is interested in a full range of potential projects, including residential developments, schools, health centres and creches. Coillte also lists utility developments such as waste water facilities and energy projects as potential enterprises.

Tourism projects, leisure developments and sports facilities will also be considered.

Gerry Egan, group director of corporate affairs at Coillte, said the forestry company had applied for and received planning permission for various once-off developments in recent years. He said it now intended to ‘‘formalise’’ its approach to property projects to get the best value.

‘‘We are constantly being approached by individual developers about specific projects. We felt it would be a good idea to control it in a formal basis,” according to Egan.

He said the Coillte tender was ‘‘testing the market’’ to see what projects would be proposed. ‘‘We are looking for people to come and talk to us, and we are setting up a formal structure to allow this to happen,” he said. Coillte has annual revenues of about €250 million, but recently warned the government that it expects to make a loss this year.

It is expected to cut jobs from its workforce of 1,200 people, after suffered from the downturn in residential property construction and the weakness of sterling.

Sunday Business Post


Locals object to solicitor's plan for Dalkey house at right of way

PLANS BY prominent solicitor and developer Noel Smyth to build a 440sq m (4,736sq feet) house in Dalkey, accessed by an old right of way for walkers, have attracted more than 30 objections from local residents.

Objectors claim the zoning on the site near Torca Road does not permit the construction of additional buildings and say plans by Mr Smyth to replace a 25sq m derelict shed with the De Blacam Meagher-designed house makes a mockery of planning objectives.

The Mount Salus Residents’ Association says in an objection that the three-bed house would seriously injure the amenities and natural environment of the Gorse Hill park in Dalkey.

“This is in effect a proposal to build a house in a park using the public footpath for vehicular access.”

Dalkey Community Council claims the proposal would destroy the wooded aspect of the site and adjoining woodland area, while the proposal for vehicular access on the right of way raises issues of public safety on a quiet lane.

Another prominent lawyer, Bill Shipsey, and his wife Moira say they do not accept that Mr Smyth has any legal rights over the footpath other than as walkers using a right of way.

The Shipseys say the site was at the centre of a previous planning controversy in the late 1970s.

On that occasion, a planning permission for a house, which was granted one day after planning notice appeared in the newspapers, was overturned by the High Court.

The then owner appealed unsuccessfully to the Supreme Court.

Mr Smyth acted as legal adviser for the owner and in 1981 acquired the property himself.

Former Bank of Ireland governor Howard Kilroy and his wife Meriel argue in their objection that Mr Smyth does not have sufficient title to the right of way connecting Torca Road and Knocknacree Road, which is intended to provide access to the house.

The Kilroys also claim the granting of planning permission would set a precedent for further development in the area.

In 2005, Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council widened the lane, laid tarmacadam and installed lighting. The local authority said at the time it carried out the works to minimise vandalism, facilitate a cycle track and allow access for its van to trim trees and remove undergrowth.

Mr Smyth told The Irish Times yesterday that he owned the right of way but had no intention of closing off access for others.

He described the proposed house as “a labour of love” and said he intended to move into it when it was built.

“This is a beautiful area and I wouldn’t build something there unless it was in keeping with its surroundings.” He had spoken to each of his immediate neighbours and had persuaded them it was “a good thing for the area”.

Mr Smyth said neither he nor his agents had any involvement in the council’s decision to upgrade the laneway.

He pointed out that another house could already use it to drive into their house and that he was extending vehicular access by just five metres, not the 40m (131ft) claimed by objectors.

While he fully accepted people’s right to object to planning applications, he claimed that just “two or three” people were behind the collection of the objections.

Irish Times


Energy plan to set 'clear and unambiguous' targets

THE GOVERNMENT’S National Energy Efficiency Plan, laying down “clear and unambiguous targets” for all sectors of the economy is to be published shortly, according to Minister for the Environment John Gormley.

Speaking last night at the presentation of the Irish Architecture Awards 2009, he said the new targets would apply to the public service, residential, commercial and industrial sectors, transport providers and energy suppliers.

The Minister noted that minimum energy performance standards for all homes covered by Part L of the building regulations become fully effective from next Wednesday. These would result in a 40 per cent improvement on the previous (2005) standards.

“A framework for achieving the ultimate goal of a carbon neutral building standard for dwellings by 2013 is nearing completion and will be available for consultation with industry and the wider public in the near future,” he said.

He added “green economy thinking is no hollow aspiration”, but was already happening as a result of Government interventions. For example, he noted that 1,400 small construction firms had registered for Sustainable Energy Ireland’s Greener Homes scheme.

As for architects, the Minister recognised that this was a time of “immense challenge”, saying he believed that a growing focus on quality “must be retained and nurtured” because it was by delivering quality design that the profession would best sustain itself.

In the awards, which were presented by RTÉ broadcaster Ryan Tubridy, Abbeyleix Library in Co Laois by deBlacam and Meagher Architects won the conservation/ restoration category for showing such aplomb in transforming the town’s former market house.

The Best Cultural Building award predictably went to the Wexford Opera House, by OPW Architects in association with Keith Williams, for what the jury described as an “exceptional new home contained within a bold contemporary form that rises theatrically” above the skyline.

Ó Briain Beary Architects won the Best Public Building award for Leixlip Garda station, which the jury’s citation said “defies the constraints traditionally associated with this brief and an unpromising suburban site to create an elegant and resourceful architectural composition”.

A2 Architects won the Best Educational Project award for the French School’s Eurocampus in Clonskeagh, Dublin. The jury was impressed by their “careful and confident architectural gesture without unnecessary deference” to existing buildings on the site.

The Public Choice Award, not surprisingly, went to the redevelopment of Thomond Park in Limerick by Murray O’Laoire and AFL Architects. A President’s Award was presented to Grafton Architects, for the Bocconi University Faculty Building in Milan, transcending every category.

Irish Times


Government throws developers a five-year lifeline

HARD-PRESSED developers with planning permission for projects they cannot afford to build are to be thrown a five-year lifeline by Government through new legislation.

The Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009 will allow local authorities to give planning applicants an extension on the time limit attached to planning applications. Under existing legislation, applications have a shelf life of five years.

Regardless of the time and expense involved in producing a plan and getting it through local authority and An Bord Pleanála planning processes, once the five years is past a developer must reapply for permission if they decide to go ahead with the development.

Under section 23 of the new Bill if “the authority is satisfied that there were considerations of a commercial, economic or technical nature beyond the control of the applicant, which substantially mitigated against either the commencement of development or the carrying out of substantial works pursuant to the planning permission, the council may extend the timeframe of the planning permission by a period in time up to five years at their discretion”.

If introduced, the legislation means developments such as that planned for the Burlington Hotel in Dublin may come to fruition when the economy has recovered.

The €1 billion redevelopment plan for the hotel was shelved by developers earlier this month despite having been given permission by An Bord Pleanála. Glasby Ltd had welcomed the success of the application, but said any decision on the site was many years away.

The Bill amends and extends the Planning and Development Act 2000 and the Transport (Railway Infrastructure) Act 2001.

According to its memorandum, its aim is to support economic renewal and promote sustainable development by ensuring that the planning system supports targeted investment on infrastructure by the State.

It also attempts to modernise land zoning and “strengthen local democracy and accountability”.

Under section 18, the Minister for the Environment may direct a local authority to change its development plan, a variation to its development plan or a local area plan.

The authority is bound to comply with that direction and the manager or councillors may not carry out any act that contravenes the direction.

The Bill also aims to ensure a closer alignment between the National Spatial Strategy, regional planning guidelines, development plans and local area plans.

Irish Times


Hearing ends into Indaver proposal

AFTER FIVE weeks of deliberations, An Bord Pleanála’s hearing into a proposed incinerator on a 12-acre site at Ringaskiddy in Co Cork drew to a close yesterday.

An Bord Pleanála inspector Öznur Yucel-Finn must now make a conclusive decision on the evidence presented to the hearing.

A decision on the eight-year planning battle between local residents and incinerator backers Indaver Ireland is expected this year.

Yesterday’s presentations consisted of closing submissions from community representatives, statutory bodies, the Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment and Indaver Ireland.

In his closing statement, the director of Indaver Ireland, John Ahern, said that there was a proven need for the proposed incinerator.

“That need is consistent with the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan, does not prejudice any objective in the Cork City Waste Management Plan 2004-2009 or the Waste Management Plan for Cork County 2004-2009.”

He added that the proposed development was consistent with the objective to promote the recovery of energy from waste.

In her closing statement, alliance chairwoman Mary O’Leary spoke of the multiple levels on which the proposal failed good planning criteria.

She said that the site selection was wrong and the technology to be employed was unsuitable.

“We rely on the moral and ethical considerations as well as the policy process that will guide you – the board – in your decision making.

“Indeed, we rely on the axiom of ‘public interest’ to direct you in that decision, and in restoring the faith of this community that our concerns will be listened too this time.”

Irish Times


Metro North timetable derailed

IT APPEARS that the timetable for the Metro North rail project in Dublin has slipped by several months.

The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) recently wrote to the four groups that have tendered for the multibillion-euro infrastructure project to inform them that An Bord Pleanála would not be in a position to give a decision on the railway order application until September 4th.

This is some six months behind the original estimate and means that the deadline for “best and final offers” from the shortlisted tenderers has been pushed back from December this year to February 2010.

As a result, enabling works will not begin until early next year for the 18km (11 mile) line, which will link St Stephen’s Green and Swords and include Dublin airport, and which will involve underground tunnelling.

Metro North also requires “final Government approval” before any major work begins on the project.

“This approval process is likely to commence in early 2010 once the best and final offer evaluation is complete.”

In April, Stephane Kofman, who heads the specialist investment division of HSBC, told a lunch meeting in Dublin organised by the Ireland-France Chamber of Commerce that the Government would have to underwrite the financing risks associated with the public-private partnership for Metro North if it was to be built.

This is due to the scarcity of finance thanks to the global credit crunch. To date, no figure has been put on the project but estimates of €5 billion to €6 billion have abounded.

HSBC is a partner with Alstom, the French tramway builder, and Siac in bidding for the Metro North contract.

So far, the Government, and in particular Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey, has said it intends to proceed with the Metro North project.

The RPA has said the project will support 6,000 jobs during the five years of construction and will carry 35 million passengers in its first year of service.

But given the severe disruption to the city centre that would result from construction works and the dire state of the exchequer finances, Government approval might become something of a political football next year and the RPA might find itself extending that deadline again.

Irish Times


Friday 19 June 2009

Gormley move on waste could threaten incinerator viability

A PROPOSED directive on waste management by Minister for the Environment John Gormley could undermine the economic viability of the controversial municipal incinerator planned for Poolbeg, in his Dublin constituency.

Submissions are now being sought on the planned directive, the key aim of which is to ensure that incineration capacity does not reach such a level that it draws in waste that could be dealt with by prevention, re-use, recycling, composting, mechanical and biological treatment (MBT) “or other methods higher up the waste hierarchy”.

The Minister has also sought legal advice from Attorney General Paul Gallagher on the “competition aspects” of Dublin City Council’s contract with a consortium comprising Covanta Energy, of the US, and Danish firm Dong Energy to build and operate the plant.

The council signed the contract with their joint venture, Dublin Waste to Energy Ltd, in September 2007 – before An Bord Pleanála had approved the project. Its terms include a “put or pay” clause, requiring the council to guarantee a supply of waste or make payments in lieu.

Mr Gormley is understood to be concerned that the contract could breach competition law by giving the Poolbeg operators a dominant position in the waste market – especially as the proposed incinerator would have a capacity to burn 600,000 tonnes per annum.

One source said the city council had been among those objecting to plans by a US company, Energy Answers International, to build a rival incinerator in Rathcoole, Co Dublin. An Bord Pleanála refused planning permission for this project last February.

Another source with experience of waste management projects said recent actions by the city council were contrary to ministerial policy – such as issuing waste collection permits that include clauses directing the waste to Poolbeg.

According to Covanta, the Dublin market “continues to be available”, but the company would probably need to invest more equity in the €300 million project than it had intended, although it was “working aggressively to get to the finish line” in terms of funding. Scott Whitney, president of Covanta Europe, said in a brief statement last month that “the financing to construct the facility is available”.

The proposed ministerial direction, advertised for public consultation today, seeks to ensure local authorities do not direct the holders of waste to deliver it in the first instance to “lower elements in the waste hierarchy”, such as landfill or incineration.

Instead, it would place an onus on local authorities to direct holders of waste to deliver it to higher elements in the waste hierarchy – such as recycling, composting or MBT – “thereby encouraging them to act in support of waste management options at the top of the hierarchy”.

Irish Times


Organic waste bins needed in urban areas, says EPA

LOCAL AUTHORITIES will have to provide brown bins for all householders in urban areas to meet new requirements to separate organic waste from other forms before dumping in landfills.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that from next month, landfill operators will have to demonstrate that all waste has been pre-treated by separating out dry, recyclable materials such as paper and packaging from general waste. This is done by using green and black bins.

For urban areas with a population of 1,500 and more, the agency says that it also expects the separate collection in brown bins of biowaste such as grass cuttings and food residues.

The agency will also announce today a review of landfill licences that will restrict the proportion of biodegradable waste allowed to 40 per cent next year, and falling to 15 per cent in 2016. It says that the new measures are required for Ireland to meet the terms of the EU landfill directive. They will also maximise the value of waste before it is disposed to landfill, reduce greenhouse emissions and help to minimise problems with bad smells at landfills.

Laura Burke of the EPA said that the new policy was another vital step along the way to managing waste effectively.

“Our aim is to make the best possible use of all waste before it is finally disposed of. People in Ireland have clearly demonstrated their willingness to recycle paper, plastic and glass. We must now help them to do the same with food waste. If the waste can be recycled or recovered, then it should not be going to landfill,” Ms Burke said.

Local authorities have been slow to roll out brown bin collection systems, with only Waterford, Galway city and parts of Dublin collecting significant amounts of organic waste last year.

Irish Times


Thursday 18 June 2009

Traders not sold on plan by Dunnes

DUNNES STORES is in a bitter dispute with neighbouring traders on Dublin’s Drury Street over plans to convert two long standing shops into a goods entrance and an ESB sub-station. The traders have warned Dublin City Council that, if Dunnes gets permission to redevelop the listed buildings, it will set a precedent for major structural changes in the Victorian shopping enclave.

The two shops at the centre of the dispute, 35 and 36, adjoin the underground car-park in Drury Street and are at the centre of a plan by Dunnes to extend its supermarket from South Great George’s Street back to Drury St. They also want to put Dunnes Stores signs on Drury Street, Exchequer Street and South Great George’s Street.

The first response from the city planners suggests that they will have none of it. They have reminded Dunnes that Drury Street is within the south city retail quarter where shops at ground floor level “create more lively, dynamic and successful places”. The removal of the shops and their replacement with a goods entrance and ESB sub-station “is contrary to this policy” and the planners recommend that Dunnes examine alternative locations.

The council also noted that the enlargement of the supermarket suggested that it would operate more as a trolley, than a basket, shopping outlet and inquired as to where trolleys would be stored and how shoppers using trolleys could access nearby car-parks.

“The difference is we’re Irish” is the Dunnes boast in radio ads. Does that give them the right to destroy a lovely shopping street?

Irish Times


Sisters of Mercy house in Longford back on the market with 35% price cut

ARDAGH HOUSE and Demesne – a 19th century house on 227 acres in Ardagh, Co Longford – is back on the market with a 35 per cent price cut to €3.25 million. The property, owned by the Sisters of Mercy, was sold at auction in autumn 2007 for €5.25 million but the sale fell through. It was relaunched last September with a guide of €5 million.

The house, in the centre of the cut-stone estate village – believed to be the setting for Oliver Goldsmith’s play She Stoops to Conquer – was bought by the order in 1927 and run as a home economics college until last year, when the nuns moved to Ballinasloe.

The 1,161sq m (12,500sq ft) building, a protected structure in an architectural conservation area, is suitable for institutional use, but would need a lot of refurbishment according to selling agent Paddy Jordan.

Accommodation in the two-storey over basement house includes four main reception rooms, 16 bedrooms and in a later addition, a gym and 16 more bedrooms. There are a number of limestone outbuildings. The 227-acre farm is likely to be of interest as agricultural rather than development land, although part of it is zoned residential. The dairy farm comes with a 75,749 gallon milk quota.

Asked whether the proceeds of the sale would now go to the Government for child abuse victims, a spokesman for the Sisters of Mercy said that the issue of further contributions is still being discussed. It is believed that no specific properties are up for negotiation.

Irish Times


College speaks out against proposed Cork incinerator

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT at the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) in Cork could be severely hindered by a proposed toxic waste incinerator on a neighbouring site, according to a senior college official.

Jody Power, Staff Engineering lecturer, at the NMCI, gave evidence at yesterday’s An Bord Pleanála oral hearing into the proposed incinerator, to be located at Ringaskiddy.

Mr Power is the first NMCI staff member to speak out against Indaver Ireland’s planned facility, but concern is deepening among the student population at the college, according to the college’s Student Union representative Gearóid Buckley, who addressed the oral hearing last week.

Mr Power said the proposed incinerator would severely impact the development of the NMCI and adversely affect the international reputation of the college.

An engineering consultant to campaign group Zero Waste Alliance Ireland (ZWAI), Mr Power referenced his findings from a number of visits to operating incinerators in Denmark.

“The proposed incinerators will, in my opinion, adversely affect the international reputation at the college, and hinder its ability to attract and retain staff and make student enrolment a nightmare,” he said.

Increased levels of incinerated waste have caused recycling rates in Denmark to drop, according to Mr Power, who predicts a similar fall off in Ireland with the introduction of incineration.

“With increased levels of incineration in Denmark, recycling rates have plummeted to become one of the lowest in the EU according to Eurostat 2007 figures. About 84 per cent of Copenhagen’s landmass is polluted with heavy metals and coastline pollution is one of the worst examples, with fish consumption restricted from the Baltic area. What is proposed by the incineration application has very serious implications for Cork harbour and our national reputation as a green, clean country,” he said.

In the morning session of the oral hearing, Department of the Environment official Jarvis Good told the hearing that the planned incinerator would not have “significant” adverse effects on the proposed Special Protection Area (pSPA) of Cork harbour.

Outlining the potential effects of the incinerator emissions on bird life and wider ecology in the harbour area, Mr Good, who is attached to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, said emissions from the incinerator stacks were likely to be localised.

Mr Good said that the proposed combined municipal waste and hazardous waste incinerators were not expected to have a significant adverse effect on the integrity of Cork Harbour pSPA.

However, under questioning from engineer Alan Watson on behalf of Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (Chase), Mr Good admitted that there was a lack of baseline monitoring data available for bird species.

Irish Times


Wednesday 17 June 2009

Bord rejects plan for D4 office block

THE IRISH Property Unit Trust (IPUT) has failed in its latest attempt to secure permission to demolish a three-storey office building at 10-12 Lansdowne Road in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, and replace it with a six-storey block with more than double the floor space.

An Bord Pleanála decided against accepting a recommendation from one of its inspectors that permission should be granted for the redevelopment provided the proposed fourth floor was omitted.

The board did not accept that the proximity to the adjoining nine-storey Lansdowne House justified a building of the height and design proposed.

The board also concluded that the proposed development would seriously injure the amenity of adjoining residential property, including the protected structures on Lansdowne Road.

It said that the proposed development, by reason of its design, height, materials and footprint (including its locations forward of the established building line of the adjoining protected structures) would result in an incongruous addition to the streetscape which would seriously and adversely affect the setting of the adjoining protected structures.

The board’s decision was at variance with the views of its inspector who carried out a comprehensive appraisal of the planning issues. He said that, having regard to the existing use of the site and the fact that the design of the new building would retain the character of the area and protect the residential amenity of neighbouring properties, it was considered that, subject to a number of conditions, the proposed development complied with the approved development plan for the area and was in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

The building has net floor space of 1,460sq m (15,715sq ft) and, if redeveloped, the space would grow to 4,677sq m (50,343sq ft). A lower basement car-park was to have provided 15 car-parking spaces.

Irish Times


Permission for €250m Beacon hospital in Cork granted

THE BEACON Medical Group has welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for a €250 million co-located hospital in the grounds of Cork University Hospital and has expressed confidence that the hospital will be completed by 2012.

The board of An Bord Pleanála overruled the decision of its own inspector who, following a three- day oral hearing last September, recommended refusal of planning permission for the new two- to five-storey 33,000 square metre hospital on the northeast corner of the CUH campus.

The board ruled that revised road proposals adequately addressed concerns expressed by the inspector in relation to traffic safety, while a minor relocation of the building southwards would ensure it did not have an unduly negative impact on nearby houses.

It made it a condition of planning that the hospital would not become operational until the Bishopstown Road roundabout had been converted to a signal controlled junction and the entrance to CUH and the new co-located hospital moved some 90 metres to the west.

Beacon chief executive Michael Cullen welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála and said the new hospital would greatly benefit the health and wellbeing of the people of Cork while providing significant economic benefit by employing some 500 staff.

The new hospital will comprise 175 single rooms with eight critical-care unit beds, six theatres, ambulatory surgery and full diagnostics incorporating almost €26 million worth of new generation equipment and will cater for public and private patients. It will cater for 11,000 inpatients, 20,000 day patients and 12,000 surgeries a year.

“We will spend the next four to six months securing finance and doing detailed designs and we hope to be in a position to start construction work on the hospital either late this year or early next year,” Mr Cullen said.

He expressed confidence the group would secure about €800 million in funding for its Cork project and its two other similar projects in Limerick and Beaumont, although he conceded that financing may involve a greater number of banks than originally planned.

BMG is not buying the site on which the proposed hospital is being built and legal agreements have yet to be finalised with the HSE and the Department of Health for the facility.

Local residents had opposed the project. Eamon Cashell, chairman of the Laburnum/Wilton Residents’ Association, said yesterday that residents in the area were outraged at the fact that An Bord Pleanála had ignored its own inspector’s views.

“The hospital isn’t built yet and we haven’t thrown in the towel,” he said, adding that the residents were considering all their options including seeking legal advice.

“People are outraged at this decision,” Mr Cashell added. “We based our arguments not on emotion but solely on planning grounds and we take some solace from the fact that planning inspector found in our favour, but we’re angered that the board then ignored his recommendations and went against its own experts.”

Irish Times


Incinerator waste to go to landfill site

HAZARDOUS WASTE material generated by up to three incinerators operating around Ireland is expected to be dealt with at a landfill site in the “greater Dublin area”, it emerged yesterday.

The landfill site will accept hazardous “fly ash” generated through the incineration process. Fly ash matter makes up about 7 per cent of all ash residual material created as a result of incinerated waste.

Because of its toxic nature, the fly ash will be disposed of in an airtight cell buried underground at the location of an existing landfill facility in Leinster, according to Indaver Ireland.

The landfill operator, which has not been identified, is in “advance stage” talks with Indaver Ireland – which is currently constructing a €130 million incinerator at Carranstown, Co Meath – to negotiate a deal to accept hazardous waste material from incinerators operating around Ireland.

Director of Indaver Ireland John Ahern said the landfill operator would be in Leinster, where it was geographically predisposed to accept hazardous waste from incinerators at Poolbeg in Dublin, Carranstown and a third proposed toxic waste facility currently planned for Ringaskiddy, Co Cork.

At An Bord Pleanála’s hearing yesterday into the proposed Cork facility, Mr Ahern said the landfill operator would deal with the fly ash in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations.

“We are at advance stage talks with one particular landfill operator with a view to sending hazardous waste material there to be disposed of.

“The operator will deal with this material in the way the EPA has advised by constructing a designated cell for hazardous waste,” Mr Ahern said.

A spokesman for Indaver Ireland confirmed that the company had been approached among others by two landfill operators in the “greater Dublin area” interested in partnering with Indaver to provide a hazardous waste landfill.

The landfill site in question will need to be modified in order to accept hazardous waste, which requires a “particular form of treatment”, according to the spokesman.

The greater Dublin area takes in Wicklow, Meath and Kildare, but Indaver Ireland did not reveal the identities of two landfill companies with which it is in talks other than to specify that the hazardous waste material would be transported to Leinster to be disposed of if licensing is granted.

The Environmental Protection Agency is currently seeking tenders from companies to develop a National Difficult Waste Management Facility to deal with up to 100,000 tonnes of hazardous waste landfill per annum.

The waste anticipated to be dealt with by the successful company would “be generally deemed not suitable for disposal by waste incineration or export”, according to the EPA guidelines for prospective tenders.

In information issued to prospective companies interested in the tender process, the EPA states: “The National Hazardous Waste Management Plan recommended that at least one hazardous waste landfill should be developed in Ireland, capable of accepting the wide range of hazardous wastes that would otherwise be exported for landfill.

“Such a facility would be expected to provide a key national resource.”

Meanwhile private consultant engineer Alan Watson, director of Public Interest Consultants, told the hearing into the Cork incinerator yesterday that ash produced from the incineration process should be classified as hazardous.

His report is based on the production of “bottom ash” at the facility, which makes up about 70 per cent of the waste matter generated through incineration.

Irish Times


RIAI unveils 35 projects shortlisted for Irish Architecture Awards

Building blocks of success: Thomond Park and Wexford Opera House on shortlist

WEXFORD OPERA House, Thomond Park in Limerick and two ground-breaking social housing schemes in Dublin’s inner city are among the 35 projects shortlisted for this year’s Irish Architecture Awards.

Announced yesterday by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI), the list also includes major public projects such as the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore, Co Offaly, as well as nine individual houses and three domestic extensions.

At a time when many architects have been made redundant by the collapse of Ireland’s construction industry, RIAI director John Graby said it was heartening that so many projects – 225 in all – had been submitted and that the quality of those that made the cut was so high.

The two shortlisted social housing schemes, both commissioned by Dublin City Council, are at York Street – designed by Seán Harrington Architects – and Timberyard, in the Coombe area of the Liberties, by multiple award-winning O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects.

Seán Harrington Architects have also been shortlisted for the only public space scheme on the shortlist: the Tallaght Zip and Plaza, a dedicated promenade and cycleway designed to “zip” the old village and Square shopping centre together.

Three education projects are included: A2 Architects’ Eurocampus in Clonskeagh, Dublin; Hazelwood School in Glasgow, which was designed for children with disabilities by GM+AD Architects; and the University of Ulster’s new Belfast campus by Todd Architects.

Apart from the Midland Regional Hospital, jointly designed by Murray O’Laoire and Brian O’Connell Associates, public projects on the shortlist include the Heritage Council’s new headquarters in the former Bishop’s Palace, Kilkenny, by Office of Public Works (OPW) Architects.

OPW Architects, in association with Keith Williams Architects, are certain to win an award for Wexford Opera House.

Others in the running include O’Briain Beary for the new Garda station in Leixlip, Co Kildare, and A+D Wejchert for Irishtown Health Centre in Dublin.

Leisure projects feature strongly.

Apart from the new rugby stadium at Thomond Park, designed by Murray O’Laoire and AFL Architects, the list includes Ballyfermot Leisure Centre, by McGarry Ní Éanaigh, and the Light House Cinema in Smithfield by DTA Architects.

The other shortlisted leisure projects are a spa and conference centre at the Hotel Europe in Killarney, Co Kerry, by Gottstein Architects; a swimming pool at St Michael’s House in Dublin by Michael Collins Associates; and a cafe-bar on Deal Pier in Kent by Niall McLaughlin Architects.

Three restoration projects have made the list: St George’s Church on Hardwicke Place, Dublin (Joseph Doyle Architects); the Ulster Bank on O’Connell Street, Dublin (Consarc Design Group); and the library in Abbeyleix, Co Laois (de Blacam and Meagher Architects).

De Blacam and Meagher have also been shortlisted for a beautiful villa on the Balearic island of Ibiza, while both FKL Architects and Odos Architects are in with a double chance of winning awards for two houses each, all unapologetically contemporary in design.

Four other houses are on the list: Cody House in Co Kilkenny by Boyd Cody Architects; Domus House in Rathmines by Donaghy Dimond; Origami House in Co Antrim by Jane D Burnside; and Lake House in Co Kerry by Clancy Moore Architects, who have also been shortlisted for a new parish centre at the Church of St George and St Thomas on Cathal Brugha Street, Dublin.

The architects shortlisted for domestic extensions are: McCullough Mulvin; Lid Architecture; and Catriona Duggan Achim Gottstein Architects.

Only two commercial projects are included: Victoria Square shopping centre in Belfast by BDP; and Tesco’s “eco-store” in Tramore, Co Waterford, by Joseph Doyle Architects.

The awards will be presented next Monday at the Cow Shed Theatre, Farmleigh, by Minister for the Environment John Gormley.

Irish Times



This story on quarry planning, published when I was on Annual Leave, is necessary reading.

Now, I know there's nothing worse than a holidaymaker coming into an area and passing judgment on locals who live there all year round and must earn their livelihood. But this quarry was so big, and its effect so monstrous, that I couldn't help wondering who had sanctioned it.

We need quarries if we are to build houses, offices, railways, harbours and roads. But the environmental impact of quarrying can be enormous. Apart from the obvious scar on the landscape, there are issues of air pollution from the dust, noise pollution from blasting, complex water run-off issues, biodiversity issues and so on.

However, the Cork-based group Friends of the Irish Environment has discovered something rather amazing - that Irish legislation set up to regulate quarries is unenforceable.

Best practice in quarrying will ensure that the surrounding environment will suffer as little as possible from such effects, and also that quarry owners will restore sections they have finished with.

However, the Cork-based group Friends of the Irish Environment has discovered something rather amazing - that Irish legislation set up to regulate quarries is unenforceable. Under the Planning Act of 2000, operating quarries were required to register with county councils to create a framework within which the industry could be environmentally regulated.

Quarries bigger than five hectares, or those located in protected areas, were deemed to need planning permission. Taking public submissions into account, councils imposed a system of development contributions on quarries - not for esoteric tree-hugging purposes, but to cope with straightforward and obvious issues, like the damage done by heavy stone lorries to surrounding roads.

But during a prolonged investigation, Friends of the Irish Environment has established that many quarries do not make development contributions, and some blatantly ignore requests by local councils to minimise their impact. Councils were found to be powerless to pursue quarry owners, because the act of 2000 gave them no means to do so. A test case brought to the Ombudsman elicited this response:

‘‘Enquiries (about enforcement) were made to the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The Department advised that conditions imposed under Section 261 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 were unenforceable because the Act did not provide a mechanism for pursuing legal proceedings for non-compliance."

The letter added that the department was ‘‘considering how this anomaly might be addressed by amending legislation; unfortunately there was no timeframe provided for this''.

So, just to be perfectly clear, quarry owners can behave pretty much how they want, because councils can do nothing to regulate them. It is down to the integrity of owners - or lack of it - as to whether quarries wreck the surrounding environment or not.

As Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment notes: ‘‘Not only has the environment been damaged by this longstanding legislative failure and great hardships imposed on residents, but many millions in development levies can no longer be collected."

Given the many planning debacles Ireland has witnessed over the years, it has not really occurred to us to consider where the material for all our new buildings and roads is coming from. But it is pretty shocking to learn that, unlike the construction industry, quarrying is barely regulated at all.

The quarry quandary:

I had a fascinating response to last week's article about quarrying, and the lack of regulation surrounding it.

Readers from five different counties contacted me to illustrate cases that had directly affected them. Because I don't have the resources to investigate each one, I won't name names or locations. But your stories highlight a number of common factors.

1.Quarry ‘owners' have sometimes claimed rights to long-abandoned quarries that, historically, they had absolutely no connection with. There is a repetitive pattern of operators reactivating old quarries without asking anyone's permission and, after a period of time, simply claiming squatters' rights - even though they are not caretaking the land, but rather consuming it.

2.The owners of quarries surrounded by common land or turf plots have sometimes either consumed that land or taken possession of it, again by claiming squatters' rights, or by compensating some locals at a token rate and, in a sort of divide and-conquer strategy, steamrolling others who do not cooperate.

Landowners have had to go to court to reclaim property approppriated in this manner.

3.When people go to their local council to complain about quarries, they are sometimes met with indifference, protestations of powerlessness (which was the point of last week's article), and in one or two cases, outright obstruction.

Would it be unusual to find that a dodgy quarry owner also has a number of council contracts in his back pocket, for road or maintenance projects, for example?

This is not necessarily to imply blanket collusion between craven councils and dodgy quarry owners; not all councils are craven, and not all quarry owners are dodgy. The extent of the abuse is hard to gauge - one case even alleged that a local council was using a quarry illegally.

Whatever about their lack of powers under the Planning Act, I think it is fair enough to say that councils are reluctant to move against quarry owners who are in some way connected to them. I'd be very keen to hear from any one else who knows about illegal or semi-legal quarrying activity and my e-mail address is below.

Friends of the Irish Environment must be credited with uncovering this story, but I suspect there's quite a lot to it.

Under the Planning Act 2000, councils are plainly not able to regulate quarries - but I wonder how many Irish quarries are fly-by-night operations in the first place. Initially, my interest in this was that quarry owners seem under no obligation to repair any of the environmental damage that they've done, but this may be just one of the problems.

It is also worth bearing in mind that many of the illegal rubbish dumps uncovered in the late 1990s were in abandoned quarries. If quarrying is as unregulated as it appears to be, is it unreasonable to assume that this filthy, dangerous activity might enjoy a renaissance?

Especially during a recession, when everyone is trying to cut corners? Does anyone have any news about this? If so, get in touch.

By Stephen Price
Sunday Business Post


Grandmother in jail on birthday over planning row with council

A GRANDMOTHER will not be able to celebrate her 50th birthday today with her nine children and six grandchildren because she is locked up in prison over a planning row with Limerick County Council.

Geraldine Murphy, from Abbeyfeale, has been placed in an overcrowded cell in Limerick prison since last Monday and is sleeping on a mattress on a floor.

She suffers from a heart condition and diabetes and takes 15 tablets a day.

Her daughter, Yvonne, said last night the family were very concerned for her welfare, and appealed for her mother to be released from the 15-day term she is serving for non-payment of a €300 fine and €3,000 costs arising out of the row.

Yvonne Murphy said: "We went to visit her yesterday in the prison and she was very upset, in bits. My mum was a full-time carer for the past three years for our grandmother, who died two weeks ago. We will go and visit her for her birthday, but it's an awful state of affairs that our mother is locked up like this.

"We thought she'd do a few days and they'd let her out, but because there's a debt involved they've told us they can't let her out before the 15 days."

Ms Murphy was taken to court by the council for opening an entrance at the back of her council house in Abbeyfeale, leading onto a public car park, without planning permission.

The council took action against Ms Murphy for failing to comply with an enforcement order to remove the entrance.

She was brought to Limerick prison last Monday for failing to pay the fine and costs to the county council, arising from district court proceedings.

The council said the opening was against planning and if one person was let away with it, others could follow.

Ms Murphy's husband, Jack, said the opening had now been closed in accordance with the council's requirements. They had created the opening to enable them to bring in turf to the back of their house.

His wife, he said, was being forced to sleep on a mattress on the floor of a cell in the prison, due to overcrowding.

Mr Murphy said: "She buried her mother last week and is suffering from angina and diabetes. She will be spending her birthday on Friday in prison. I wanted to go instead of her, but they wouldn't take me, even though I am a joint tenant with my wife."

A council spokesman said representations had been made to officials to waive the €3,000 costs, but this could not be done.

Irish Examiner


Tuesday 16 June 2009

€14bn wind energy potential ‘waiting to be tapped’

WIND energy use is growing but the potential for thousands of jobs and €14 billion investment in the sector has still not been tapped, it was claimed.

Figures released yesterday from EirGrid – the state-owned electricity transmission operator – show that in recent months wind power has accounted for up to 40% of all energy on the system and wind energy connected to the power system has increased by more than 25% in the past year.

The figures also show the amount of wind energy connected to the national grid has reached 1,077 megawatts and wind farms in Ireland now produce enough energy to supply approximately 700,000 homes around the country.

Wind power dwarfs hydro and landfill gas generation in terms of energy provided. A new report by Deloitte, also published yesterday, shows huge potential for more jobs in the sector.

The Deloitte report, Jobs and Investment in Irish Wind Energy, states that construction of wind energy projects on the island of Ireland will involve approximately €14.75bn of investment, €5.1bn of which could be retained in the Irish economy.

That in turn can support in excess of 10,500 jobs through direct and indirect investment up to 2020.

The report was launched to mark Global Wind Energy Day and was commissioned by the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA).

The IWEA’s chief executive, Dr Michael Walsh, said new plans will be put in place to boost the sector, but warned of areas of concern, such as the likelihood that many projects will not be delivered if developers cannot be given guarantees that the grid will be delivered to their project on time.

Ireland has set itself a progressive target of delivering 40% of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020.

However, Dr Walsh said: "While Ireland has established a number of initiatives to stimulate growth in the sector, grid availability, a stable financial framework and a shortage of experienced personnel and lack of awareness of opportunities in the sector are stunting the sector’s growth.

"All of these issues need to be tackled, by industry and policy makers, to ensure the sector can continue to flourish in order to meet our targets and assist the Government with its recovery plan."

Irish Examiner