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‘Job done’ says group against plastics factory

Monday, 23rd September, 2019 1:10pm

Story by Jackie Keogh
‘Job done’ says group against plastics factory

Celebrating the High Court decision last month were SOS committee members Brendan McCormack, Fiona Vincent, Brendan McCarthy and Lorelie Rabbitt-Tomko at the town’s Square. (Photo: Anne Minihane)

THE controversial plastics factory, proposed for Skibbereen, will not now be built. 

‘Job done. It’s over,’ is how Brendan McCarthy, chairman of the Save Our Skibbereen campaign, responded to the news that Daly Products Ltd had formally withdrawn its planning application.

Mr McCarthy, who also lives near the proposed site at Poundlick, said he received a letter from An Bord Pleanála, confirming the news, on Monday last.

‘I could hardly believe what I was reading and it wasn’t until I had confirmed it with our own legal representative and phoned An Bord Pleanála that I dared to believe it was true,’ he told The Southern Star.

He described the relief as ‘enormous’, adding: ‘I was literally shaking with the relief when the realisation that the factory would not be going ahead.’

Mr McCarthy claimed common sense had prevailed ‘because a plastics factory would not have been a good fit for a town and an area that has a pristine, clean environment.’

He claimed the ‘win’ against Daly Products’ parent company RTP was ‘not a victory for me, or the committee, but a victory for Skibbereen.’

Mr McCarthy said the campaign and the legal challenge, not just to Cork County Council’s decision to grant planning permission, but also An Bord Pleanála’s decision to uphold planning contrary to the advice of its own inspector – ‘was way bigger than me, my house, my neighbours’. 

He said it involved an entire community ‘that values a clean environment and wants to preserve it for the next generation.’

He believed the campaign might have been helped by the current climate. ‘This is the best time in history to appeal against a plastic factory because the whole world is talking about the need to change our ways and reduce the amount of plastic in every day use,’ he explained.

Mr McCarthy thanked everyone who supported the campaign since their first public meeting in January 2016 – an event that was attended by just 50 people, but grew substantially over the last two-and-a-half years.

One supporter of the proposed factory, Cllr Joe Carroll (FF), said he accepted the outcome, but added: ‘A new factory would have meant jobs for Skibbereen and boosted the local economy.’

‘As an elected councillor,’ he said, ‘I have always looked for employment opportunities for Skibbereen and the greater West Cork area. I am disappointed because I know this company, which trades internationally, has never met with such opposition before.’

Social Democrat Cllr Holly McKeever Cairns, who sought election on the plastics factory and the kelp harvesting issues, described the opposition as a model campaign that shows what can be achieved when a community pulls together and stands up for what is right.

 ‘This is people power at its finest,’ she said. ‘Our coastline is what makes West Cork special – we have to protect it as a driver for sustainable economic growth in the area.

‘It also highlights the fact that councillors need to look carefully at rezoning and local area plans to make sure it they are in line with government policy on climate change. We can’t keep flying the green flag and shy away from taking real climate action decisions.’

Danny Miles, spokesman for RTP, declined to comment.