Cork

| 10.3°C Dublin

Ruling against controversial Mallow project overturned by An Bórd Pleanála

Board rules development not likely to have significant effect on Blackwater Special Area of Conservation

Close

Cork County Council had initially refused planning permission for the housing development following a High Court ruling reinstating an EU Special Area of Conservation protecting the Freshwater Peal Mussel (above) in the River Blackwater

Cork County Council had initially refused planning permission for the housing development following a High Court ruling reinstating an EU Special Area of Conservation protecting the Freshwater Peal Mussel (above) in the River Blackwater

Cork County Council had initially refused planning permission for the housing development following a High Court ruling reinstating an EU Special Area of Conservation protecting the Freshwater Peal Mussel (above) in the River Blackwater

corkman

The decision by An Bord Pleanála to overturn a controversial ruling by Cork County Council to refuse planning permission for a 95-unit housing development in Mallow has been welcomed by Cork East Labour TD Sean Sherlock.

The Mallow-based deputy has described the decision as a "chink of light" in the ongoing issue relating to the existence of the freshwater mussel in the River Blackwater.

In April of this year, the Council shot down the proposal by Taramount Construction Ltd for the development at Old course, Spaglen, following a successful legal challenge which reinstated an EU Special Area of Conservation (SAC) order protecting the Freshwater Pearl Mussel in the River Blackwater's basin.

The High Court ruling essentially tied the hands of Cork County Council, leaving planners with little option but to refuse the Mallow development planning permission.

This is Cork Newsletter

Cork's essential reads in local news and sport, straight to your inbox every week

This field is required

Explaining the reasoning behind their decision, the authority said it was the stated objective of the Cork County Development Plan to provide protection to all designated natural heritage sites, including special areas of conservation.

They wrote that it was considered that the proposed Mallow development had "the potential to contribute to adverse effects" on the Blackwater SAC and interfere with its conservation objectives, including those for the Freshwater Pearl Mussel.

They concluded by saying they "were not satisfied" the development would not be contrary to an objective of the County Development Plan and requirements of the Habitats Directive, as set out in the 2000 Planning and Development Act.

The ruling caused consternation among local public representatives, amid fears that the reinstatement of the River Blackwater SAC - which had been rescinded in 2018 following Government representations to the EU - would effectively block any future developments along the Blackwater basin.

At the time, Cllr Gerard Murphy (FG) said it would "cause the sterilisation" of development land along the Blackwater stretching from the Kerry border, through the heart of Duhallow and North Cork as far as Youghal, as well as tributaries and streams flowing into the river.

He said that, as a result of the court decision, it would be necessary for the new Government to go back to the EU Commission to negotiate the reversal of the SAC designation, a process he said could take months if not years.

Upholding an appeal by Taramount against the council's ruling, An Bord Pleanála said that ,subject to 23 specified conditions, the proposed development "would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or property in the vicinity" and "therefore, would be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area."

They further ruled that the proposed development, individually or in combination with other plans or projects, "would not be likely to have a significant effect on the Blackwater River (Cork/Waterford) Special Area of Conservation."

Welcoming the decision, Deputy Sherlock said it showed "there were avenues for construction", despite the blanket bans because of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel and the inadequacy of the Mallow waste water treatment plant.

"The decision is a significant one, in that, we keep hearing that the existence of the Pearl Mussel and the lack of an upgraded waste water treatment plant in Mallow is the reason for planning refusals across North Cork," he said.

"The decision by An Bord Pleanála offers a chink of light and gives some grounds for optimism that houses can now be built and regeneration can take place where the town needs it.

"At least the decision provides a precedent that will give some comfort to other planning permissions in the pipeline.

"What we want to see now is an upgrade of the treatment plant. The future of Mallow depends upon its construction," he added.


Privacy