Saturday 18 November 2017

Rosse 'furious' with An Taisce over hub appeal

Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

THE Earl of Rosse is considering resigning from An Taisce over their objections to the Euro Chinese Trading Hub planned for Athlone.

Lord Rosse, who owns Birr Castle and whose father was a founding member of the National Trust in Ireland, said he was furious over An Taisce's appeal against planning permission for the venture.

"I believe a vibrant trading hub will bring in the visitors, jobs and revenue which we need to protect and preserve our heritage," he said.

"I am delighted that An Board Pleanala overruled the appeal," he said.

An Bord Pleanala gave the green light for the €175m development in Creggan, outside Athlone, last week and attached 37 conditions, mostly technical, to the planning decision.

It has been speculated that when the development is complete the entire five phases of the site will have cost €1.4bn.

It is estimated that 1,200 construction jobs will be created to build the massive facility, and up to 1,500 full-time positions once it opens.

Lord Rosse said that his concerns and those of other older members of An Taisce were ignored.

"We did not even received the courtesy of a letter of acknowledgement," he said.

He added that he was considering resigning from An Taisce as a result.

In An Taisce's appeal to An Bord Pleanala, it warned that a similar development has been planned for the Wirral, near Liverpool, and smaller scale trade hubs have already been established across Europe.

An Taisce claimed that Athlone would not be able to compete with Liverpool's access through its ports and airports.

The body also said "the vague nature of the planning conditions" attached to the development is a serious concern.

The €175m first phase of the hub will be a base for Chinese companies to promote trade and commerce with Europe and the rest of the world.

It is understood that Athlone Business Park Ltd will market the proposed development to Chinese companies seeking a trading hub to sell directly to European customers, without the need to travel to China.

The development will also have a special Irish division to promote domestic business.

Sunday Independent

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