TWO major environmental campaigns in West Cork – run primarily by small community-based pressure groups – got a huge boost this week when both achieved success in their court challenges in Dublin.
On Tuesday, the Save Our Skibbereen (SOS) campaign welcomed the news in the High Court which resulted in the quashing of a decision by An Bord Pleanala (ABP) to grant permission for a plastics factory in the town.
This was just hours after the group campaigning against the mechanical harvesting of kelp in Bantry Bay were told by another High Court judge that the licence earlier issued for the seaweed harvesting was, in effect, incomplete.
In the High Court in Dublin on Tuesday, An Bord Pleanala (ABP) consented to the court granting an order quashing the ABP decision of November 29th, which had permitted the construction of a thermoplastic compounds production facility at Poundlick on the Baltimore Road in Skibberen.
The consent order was made by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan.
ABP accepted that its screening for ‘appropriate assessment’ breached the requirements of a decision of the Court of Justice of the EU.
The matter will now return to the Board ‘to be decided in accordance with law’.
SOS believe the factory’s developers, Daly Products, may then be requested to submit a Natura Impact Statement (NIS).
‘We will be a copy party to communications between the Bord and Daly Products Limited and to any NIS and will have opportunity to challenge or object,’ said a spokesperson for SOS.
‘We are advised that it will take a year to 18 months for procedures between the Bord and Daly Products Limited to play out and that no development can be commenced in that period,’ named appellant Brendan McCarthy, a resident of Poundlick, told The Southern Star on Tuesday.
Daly Products has not engaged in any way in the current process, he noted.
Mr Justice Noonan also made an order for costs against ABP in favour of Mr McCarthy.
Mr McCarthy has called on SOS supporters not to make the decision a personal issue on social media by making any negative comments about those who campaigned in favour of the factory.
'We have never wanted this to be a personal issue,' said Brendan. 'It was an impartial campaign for us, it was not about anyone in particular, so we don't want to see any personal attacks. But this is just fantastic news, especially in the light of the news about the kelp campaign yesterday and also Fionn Ferreira's win in California. It's been a fantastic week,' he added. 'It shows how a small community really can win sometimes.'
He said it was now four years since Daly Products first approached Cork County Council about the factory. ‘It looks like it could take another three years – do they really want that? I would hope that they will wash their hands of it now,’ he said.
He said it is now four years since Daly Products first approached Cork County Council about the factory. ‘It looks like it could take another three years – do they really want that?’ he added.
A statement from the campaign added: ‘We remain vigilant and ready to do whatever it takes to ensure that this development will never proceed. We also take this opportunity to thank all of our supporters from Skibbereen, West Cork and beyond, who have donated to our campaign, fundraised for our campaign and helped raise awareness of our campaign in local, national and international circles.’
A statement issued by Daly Products’ parent company RTB to The Southern Star on Wednesday evening simply said: ‘We have no comment on the matter.’