Councillors sounded an urgent warning on Listowel's ability to accommodate future industry in a heated appeal to senior management at a meeting of the Listowel Municipal Area on Monday.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Jimmy Moloney and Fine Gael Cllr Mike Kennelly took issue with the wording of the draft variation to the town development plan that is proposing to zone 14.1ha in Clieveragh and 9.6ha in Tanavalla as industrial/enterprise/employment, which the Council says 'would facilitate the consideration of job creation developments'.
However, the councillors said information they obtained since the draft was mooted suggested to them Listowel could find itself faced with the prospect of having no available land for industrial development. The warning was also in the context of Shannon Properties' sale of the last public lands for industry in Listowel.
"We were led to believe there was enough land zoned to meet our needs going forward...an area that came before you in the meantime was deemed not suitable..when I heard there was no more land I started to question the integrity of the information I was getting....was the information that we got misleading?" Cllr Kennelly asked.
"If the 14.1ha is developed and planning went in and the 14.1ha is off the table, as reasonable information coming in suggests, and if somebody else wants to come in the 9.6ha is off the table because it is attached to a multi-national. Where do we send them? Into Tralee?" Cllr Moloney asked.
Senior planner Damien Ginty moved to assure the members that Listowel is adequately served by its zoning strategy, saying that 23ha was more than sufficient: "I want to assure members that there is enough land zoned for industry in Listowel. The reply to the question was correct and I stand over it.
"There are 14.1ha zoned in Clieveragh and a significant quantum of that land is undeveloped...I never have or never would attempt to mislead members.
"In my opinion there is sufficient land zoned....the ownership of land can't be taken into consideration."
Mr Ginty said that in the 'hypothetical' event of a shortfall the Council would be 'pro-active': "Rest assured...as a department we would be the first to address this," saying the process to initiate a variation would be 'relatively quick'.