A HEATED debate took place at Monday’s meeting of Cork County Council after councillors shot down a motion to rezone a controversial site in Skibbereen.
The site is already at the centre of a planning application for a plastics factory.
Cllr Holly Cairns’ (SD) motion called for the rezoning of the 3.1 hectares in Poundlick from business development back to a greenbelt area.
‘I’m proposing, for the second time, that we rezone the land at Poundlick but this time, the other way around, and return it to town greenbelt,’ said Cllr Cairns.
‘New employment in any area can only be welcomed if it isn’t at the expense of existing employment,’ she added.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said the general feeling in Skibbereen was that a plastics factory isn’t a good fit for the area.
However, Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said he was taken aback that the executive had even allowed the motion to go through. ‘If this is passed, it is clearly saying to the IDA that they are not wanted in Skibbereen,’ said Cllr Carroll.
‘This land belongs to the IDA since 1975 and what do we expect to see on an IDA site? A dancehall?’ he asked.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said plenty of other companies could come into that land and create employment, while Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said that rezoning land owned by the State bought for industrial development would limit the scope of any potential development.
Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) described it like ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ while Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said that if they adopted the motion it would be sending out the signal that they are not in favour of anything.
However, county mayor Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan said he was supporting the motion and representing the concerns of a huge amount of the public who fought against the plastics factory.
Council chief executive Tim Lucey said that the current situation with the site is still ‘very live’ as both the Council and An Bord Pleanála (ABP) granted permission for the factory, while recently the High Court deferred it back to ABP. ‘We need to be extra careful here and we strongly recommend that this be dealt with within the normal process – within a review of the County Development Plan,’ said Mr Lucey.
‘ABP’s decision to grant planning was quashed and there is no court case ongoing, so currently no planning granted,’ said Cllr Cairns.
The motion was defeated by 36 votes to 6. The six in favour were Cllrs Paul Hayes, Danielle Twomey, Holly Cairns, Liam Quaide (GP), Padraig O’Sullivan and Christopher O’Sullivan both FF.