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Dursey ferry ‘fiasco’ sees man miss doc appointment

May 17th, 2022 10:10 PM

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IT has been claimed that An Bord Pleanála did not scientifically justify its reasons for setting a monthly limit of 5,000 visitors to Dursey Island — which is still without a ferry –  as part of its plans for a new cable car system.

The High Court heard on Monday that An Bord Pleanála intends to concede in a challenge to its grant of planning permission for the development of a new cable car system between the Beara Peninsula and Dursey Island.

Approval was granted last November to Cork County Council for the decommissioning of the existing cableway structure and the construction of a two-way cableway line, mainland exhibition centre, a café and a car park.

The current cableway facilitates a single six-person cable car used by 20,400 visitors each year, according to planning documents. 

The High Court heard on Monday that the board would not be defending the judicial review action brought by Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), which was initiated earlier this year.

Barrister Aoife Carroll, for the board, said the parties needed some time to consider the terms of final orders they would request. This may result in the planning application being resubmitted to the board for fresh consideration, the court heard.

In its court action seeking for the planning permission to be quashed, FIE argued the environment where the infrastructure was to be built was ‘highly sensitive’, with the Beara peninsula special protection area (SPA) for birds encompassing both the island and mainland sides.

FIE challenged the board’s granting of permission on several domestic and European grounds.

Among its grounds was a claim the board ‘erred’ in concluding the development would not adversely affect the integrity of European sites when this allegedly could not have been ascertained beyond reasonable scientific doubt.

It also alleged the board did not scientifically justify its reasons for setting a monthly limit of 5,000 visitors and said the estimated 60,000 annual visitors is a ‘very significant increase’ in traffic to Dursey Island.

The case has been adjourned for two weeks.

Meanwhile, there is still no news on a ferry for the island’s inhabitants who have now been without access to the mainland since the cable car was switched off for maintenance at the end of March.

Chair of Dursey Island Development Association Martin Sheehan, who has been on the island since Sunday, said it’s been a ‘total fiasco’ that they are still without a ferry. 

He is fearful that a planned dosing of the water pumps due to take place at the start of June may not happen now.

‘This involves a man coming to the island for a day’s work on the water pumps and we’ve no idea how he will do it now. This will affect our water and we could end up drinking untreated water, which will be a health hazard to all islanders,’ said Martin.

‘We had one man here in his 80s who missed an important doctor’s appointment, while another local rowed across the Dursey Sound last weekend to get medication and groceries,’ said Martin, who added that the animals are doing well as there is plenty of grass at the moment.

Locals have previously noted that Dursey Sound is a treacherous body of water and journeys on it are often hazardous.

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