Monday, 31 January 2011

Coillte urged to end land deals

AN TAISCE has called on Coillte Teoranta to abandon its “ill-advised” commercial property programme following a second planning refusal for a nursing home on its lands.

The State forestry company was refused planning permission by An Bord Pleanála for a 100-bed nursing home and community facilities at Carrowbaun, off the M6 in east Co Galway, following an appeal by An Taisce.

A number of grounds for refusal were given by the appeals board, including its view that the “unsuitable rural location” would contribute to piecemeal isolated development as well as being prejudicial to public health because of the risk of ground water pollution from septic tanks.

Ian Lumley, An Taisce’s heritage officer, said the Co Galway scheme – one of five nursing home applications on forest land – was “part of a wider misplaced commercial agenda by Coillte designed to attract investors if privatisation of the State forestry organisation goes ahead”.

“One in Co Wexford has already been refused along with the Galway development, and the remaining three are still in the planning system,” he said.

“The forestry agency is also currently proposing to enter into a deal with Irish Distillers for a poorly placed storage facility in a State forest 9km from the Irish Distillers plant in Middleton.

“These developments are being led entirely by availability of the land bank without any regard for proper spatial planning.

“The Galway refusal also shows that Coillte is wasting time and resources by entering into development proposals which are against national planning policy.”

Attempts to contact Coillte to comment on An Bord Pleanála’s decision and An Taisce’s claims were unsuccessful.

Irish Times

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