Appeals lodged against Muckross parking plans

Two appeals have been lodged against plans to expand the bus- and car-parking facilities at Muckross House in Killarney.

Last month Kerry County Council granted the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht permission to extend the existing bus-parking area and provide additional car-parking spaces at the world-famous heritage site.

Muckross House and Gardens are among the most popular visitor attractions - listed ninth in the top ten last year - with over 550,000 tourists a year visiting the site.

The Department said that the additional parking spaces were needed to meet increased demand and to protect trees in the grass-covered overflow car park that is now increasingly in use.

Two separate appeals against the decision to allow the extension have now been lodged by Dublin-based environmental campaigner Peter Sweetman and by Tralee native Michael Horgan.

Mr Sweetman has objected to the car park expansion on the grounds that it could have an adverse effect on the protected site and that necessary environmental impact reports were not carried out.

Mr Horgan - who is Secretary of the 'Lakes and Rivers of Kerry: Salmon and Trout Conservation and Protection Association' - has appealed the decision on the grounds that the expansion would impact on the local deer population and remove prime grazing land.

Mr Horgan has also questioned the need for the expansion due to the fact that tourist buses only visit Muckross House for four months of the year.

For its part the Department says that assessments indicate the development would have no negative impact on the site or on local fauna.