BY JACKIE KEOGH and
A DECISION on Cork County Council’s application to develop a breakwater in Baltimore is imminent.
County engineer Kevin Morey said the issue was due to be discussed at a meeting of An Bord Pleanala and that a decision would be made shortly.
But Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) wasn’t satisfied. Speaking at a meeting of the Western Committee in Castletownbere recently, he said: ‘The Council applied to An Bord Pleanala to build a breakwater in Baltimore Harbour in 2015. Why hasn’t a decision been made before now?’
The Fianna Fáil councillor said one of the last objectives of the Baltimore Harbour Board, which was disbanded in 2012, was to see a breakwater put in place because it would make Baltimore a safer harbour.
During Storm Ophelia, he said, all of the vessels operating out of Baltimore had to take shelter at Old Court, Union Hall and in Castletownbere, because Baltimore is too exposed to the elements.
‘Why does it take three years to process a planning application?’ he asked.
The councillor said the question wasn’t rhetorical. He said he wanted an answer to it because the delay, in his opinion, was unprecedented.
The councillor is on record as saying that the installation of a breakwater in Baltimore would see all the elements of a consultant’s report on the village’s infrastructural needs finalised.
At the time the consultant’s report was drawn up, Cllr Carroll said, Baltimore had one single road going through it, very little parking, poor pier infrastructure, and little or no facilities for the marine leisure industry.
‘Today,’ he said, ‘there are two new access roads into the village, the old piers have been rebuilt, there are two new piers, and the harbour has been dredged. Now, all we are waiting for is the breakwater.’
At an earlier meeting of Cork County Council, councillors had called for a complete overhaul of An Bord Pleanála (ABP) in order to make it more transparent and accountable.
Midleton-based Cllr Noel Collins raised a motion calling on the government to amend legislation whereby ABP could be held accountable to Dáil Eireann, in a reasoned way, to enable a greater cataloguing of the Board’s decisions.
Cllr Collins (Ind) said the body isn’t open to a great deal of scrutiny.
‘It’s important that ABP operate in a predictable way and many people would welcome these changes,’ said Cllr Collins. West Cork councillors were vocal in their frustration with the ongoing delay in the planning process in relation to the Baltimore breakwater.
Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) said ABP was something of a ‘secret organisation’.
‘The breakwater in Baltimore is going on for donkeys. Why can’t it be decided? There are also serious capacity and transparent issues with ABP,’ said Cllr Murphy.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said that what was happening with the breakwater in Baltimore was an ‘absolutely disgrace.’
‘Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG), who seconded the motion, said this issue is becoming more and more important with many projects being sent to ABP and called for reforms to take place.
‘There is no reason why ABP couldn’t meet in public sessions and that reports be presented at it. Target dates are being deferred and deferred with many national projects being held up and it is coming to crisis levels,’ said Cllr O’ Sullivan.
His colleague Cllr Kevin Murphy said ABP is ‘totally overworked and under-resourced.’