Community appeals West Cork Distillers’ warehouse go-ahead

March 9th, 2023 5:45 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Members of the Save Tullig community group said they will appeal Cork County Council’s decision to grant planning permission for six whiskey maturation warehouses.

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A COMMUNITY group has lodged an appeal against Cork County Council’s decision to grant West Cork Distillers planning permission for six warehouses at Tullig, near Reenacreena.

The Tullig and Reenascreena Community Group, known as Save Tullig, has established an online petition to stop the development that has been signed by 1,331 people.

‘That level of objection – plus the 132 residents who signed the objection document – in such a relatively lowly populated area, warrants serious consideration by the board,’ according to local resident and group spokesperson Calvin Jones.

‘The community feels let down and betrayed by Cork County Council and the planning process,’ the spokesperson told The Southern Star.

‘Ordinary people rely on the planning authority to shield them from inappropriate commercial developments like this one in un-zoned rural locations. If they fail to do that,’ he added, ‘you kind of have to ask what they’re there for.’

Save Tullig alleged that Council planners contradicted their own ceo’s publicly stated opinion on zoning land in the immediate area for a similar, though much smaller, development.

The group referred to a statement in which the Council’s ceo, Tim Lucey, is alleged to have said there was sufficient land zoned within the settlement boundaries of the area to meet the business, industrial and general employment requirements for the Municipal District.

They alleged that the ceo said it is not appropriate to zone land for such developments in un-serviced rural areas.

However, when The Southern Star put these allegations to Cork County Council, a spokesperson said the basis on which the planning authority arrived at its decision, including consideration of the submissions received, has been set out in the reports on file. 

‘It is not appropriate,’ the Council spokesperson added, ‘for a planning authority to engage in discourse relating to planning applications outside of the formal planning application assessment and appeals processes.’

The community group has been fighting West Cork Distillers’ proposal since the first planning application was lodged with the local authority in July 2021.

The Council’s decision gives the distillers permission to build six warehouses instead of 12 as originally requested.

Even with a 50% reduction, Calvin Jones said residents are adamant that the development would be out of scale and inappropriate for a rural setting.

Save Tullig engaged planning consultants Cunnane Stratton Reynolds to work on their appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

The members say they are confident they have a strong case to overturn the County Council’s decision, having cited ‘contravention of local and national planning policy, unconvincing precedents and significant gaps, errors and omissions in West Cork Distillers’ application

While the group’s fight is a local one, Calvin Jones warns that the issue could affect the integrity of rural communities throughout Ireland.

Meanwhile, Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) has also submitted a detailed objection to the planning application for the development of a site that is ‘in open countryside’, 6km north of the village of Leap.

FIE Director Tony Lowes said the problem at Tullig is compounded by the fact that the site contains 11.9 hectares of wetland. All wetlands – whether designated for protection or not – are, he said, ‘specifically cited for restoration under the forthcoming European Green Deal.’

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