Saturday 23 February 2019

Bird of prey holds up €15m Hellfire development

Survey: The merlin is a falcon with a small breeding population
Survey: The merlin is a falcon with a small breeding population
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

A small bird of prey has put the brakes on a controversial €15m tourism development at Dublin's Hellfire Club.

South Dublin County Council hopes to build a tourism centre with a viewing platform on the historic site in the Dublin mountains above Rathfarnham, as well as a café and a car park, which they say could attract up to 300,000 visitors a year.

But with merlins thought to be in the area, An Bord Pleanála said in a letter to the council last week it was not satisfied a bird survey that had been carried out was adequate.

It added the potential impact on the merlin species needed to be established and requested extra bird surveys be carried out. According to Birdwatch Ireland, the merlin is amber-listed in conservation terms here due to its small breeding population.

The plan is being objected to by local residents and groups, who say the area and infrastructure could not cope with the influx of visitors. The Save The Hellfire group, which opposes the development, said more than 20,000 people had signed a petition to "say no to this overscaled, inappropriately located development".

The matter went before An Bord Pleanála as part of the planning process, but it has now come back to the council seeking more information.

Irish Independent

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