independent

Monday 23 July 2018

Reps face public fury as 16-month old road woes set to continue until 2019

Ballydesmond meeting hears wind farm interconnection works may have to be dug up again

Maria Herlihy

The anger at the condition of Ballydesmond village and surrounding roads was made clear by the public to sitting elected representatives who received a robust tongue lashing at a meeting held in the village on Monday night. 

For just shy of two hours,  there was  at times raised voices by members of the public who demanded that the Newmarket-Ballydesmond road (R578) along with numerous other local roads "be made safe and brought back to a proper working order." 

At present, motorists are driving on the opposite side of the road to avoid deep trenches, some which are 250mm deep.  

In addition to the Newmarket-Ballydesmond road, other public roads signalled out as being in a diabolical state and in "a pure shambles" included Knocknaboul, Ballynahulla and Ballyduane in Newmarket. 

Attending the meeting were Cllr Gerard Murphy (FG), Cllr John Paul O'Shea (Ind) Cllr Bernard Moynihan (FF), Deputy Michael Moynihan (FF) and Deputy Danny Healy Rae (Ind).  

The public meeting was called by Ballydesmond and Foilogohig Development Associations. Chairman Sean Kelleher did not hold back as he blasted and grilled elected representatives about why it has taken this long for a public meeting to take place. In relation to the condition of the Newmarket-Ballydesmond road, he said in November they got a "guarantee it would be done" and when a meeting was called no councillor or elected representative turned up. 

"Two weeks, then, before Christmas and nothing happened. You need to sharpen up and answer the questions being asked here," said Mr Kelleher to which he received a round of applause from a packed hall. He later told the panel that they "were only telling the people what they wanted to hear." 

Mr Kelleher also stressed that what was paramount is that the condition of the roads "are a health and safety issue."  

The elected representatives were also given both barrels by some members of the public for allowing the granting of a Roads Opening Licence to Moriarty's Civil Engineering, which is presently in examinership. Others lay the blame for the condition of the roads solely on the shoulders of Cork County Council. 

Many other people had strong words of criticism for wind farm developers who "are making vast sums of money but yet it's the people living here [Ballydesmond] who are suffering."

Many others complained about the damage being done to their cars and "just what is the point in paying car tax?." 

Moriarty's are employed by Brookfield Renewables Ireland, who were retained by Greencoat Capital -  the owners of Knockacummer Windfarm near Rockchapel, to manage and complete this interconnection. Referring to a letter circulated by Jim Molloy, Senior Executive Engineer, Roads Operations dated Friday, February 2, Cllr Gerard Murphy (FG) told the meeting that they will have to "continue to put on the pressure" to get all the works done in the village. 

He said the complex issue in Ballydesmond reminded him of the previous situation in Buttevant. He stressed that funding has been made available to Moriarty's "and there will be substantial progress in six weeks." 

"The situation in Ballydesmond is unacceptable, we accept that," he said.  Cllr John Paul O'Shea (Ind) said the condition of the roads in Ballydesmond has been raised on "several occasions" at the Kanturk Mallow municipal district meeting.

He said: "We can suggest to revoke the licence but the job still needs to be done." 

He, along with other elected representatives, did agree that "not enough monitoring" was being done on the road.  Cllr Bernard Moynihan (FF) said: "The pipes that were laid have to be dug up again. In Ballydesmond, one third of the village must be dug up again as it was not done properly." 

Deputy Danny Healy Rae (Ind) described  the whole fiasco as a "double wobble" as Ballydesmond also needs a new water supply. 

One commentator from the floor said: "If the water must be done then the whole road will have to be undone again. We are being surrounded by turbines and if any more get the green light the road will be in shit again. What was done to the road was a butchering job." 

Regarding the sourcing of a much-needed new reservoir for Ballydesmond, site acquisition is still not complete, the meeting heard. 

Deputy Healy Rae (Ind) said that his son, Johnny, would shortly be undertaking test holes in the ground but it would be a number of weeks before the results would come back. 

Deputy Michael Moynihan (FF)  stressed that all the roads must be repaired. "We must return Ballydesmond into a workable village," he said. 

"The ESB applied for planning permission to dig the holes. They will make the most money out of it. It's the ESB who will benefit and not Ballydesmond," he said. 

Cllr Bernard Moynihan said: "The message must be driven home to Brookfield and Greencoat [Capital] that Ballydesmond will take no more. We suspended standing orders last week and now we have this letter from the council."

Cllr Gerard Murphy also stressed that Eirgrid refused to sign off on the works undertaken by Moriarty's. 

Some people at the public meeting lay the blame on the shoulders of the council.

However, Cllr Murphy said: "In my strong view, no council engineer signed off on any of the works. I am quite confident about that. It was Eirgrid that refused to sign off on the laying of the cables and, because it was not signed off, Brookfield Renwables was not obliged to pay them. That is why the road will have to be dug up again." 

Many people complained about the damage being done to their cars because of the road. Cllr Bernard Moynihan encouraged people to send their bills to Cork County Council.

"We will then fight to get the money paid by Greencoat Capital or Brookfield [Renewables]," he said. 

Another man asked if the panel were prepared to grant planning to wind farms in the region. Cllr Bernard Moynihan said they wanted less turbines and more people in western Duhallow. He said that Greencoat Capital are "the ones making savage money out of all of this". 

Cllr John Paul O'Shea said he will be informing Mr Molloy that the council should revoke the licence to Moriarty's.  Another man complained that the road in Ballyduane has been "hit twice" and it is in a shocking condition for three years.

"The road needs to be completely re-done," he said. He said chips were put into the holes resulting in the entire road resembling a "sponge".   

At the end of the meeting it was agreed that another meeting would be held in two weeks time, on Monday, February 19 to discuss further updates.    

'We plan to be back on the project full time on 12th February following agreement with Knockacummer Windfarm Ltd and will remain on site until all works are fully completed and reinstated. 

'Again, I wish to apologise to the community for the disturbance but we are fully committed to completing the works,' read the statement from Mr Moriarty.

Corkman

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