Board ignores own inspector’s recommendation that planning permission should be refused
THE planning appeals board – An Bord Pleanála (ABP) – has granted permission for a plastics factory to go ahead in Skibbereen, despite its own inspector recommending it be refused.
ABP voted by 2:1 in favour of allowing the factory, which is to be built by Daly Products Ltd, to go ahead at Poundlick, on the edge of town.
But this decision – which comes after months of a high profile campaign by opponents to the plan – is in direct opposition to the recommendation of ABP’s own inspector, Hugh Morrison.
While this move is relatively rare – it is not unique. A spokesperson said that approximately 13% of inspectors’ recommendations are overturned by the ABP board.
And now opponents say they will most likely launch a judicial review of the decision, and are holding a meeting next week to discuss it.
Any challenge to the permission could delay a final decision on the factory’s future by anything from four to five months, to a number of years.
The developers of the factory issued a brief statement to The Southern Star this week: ‘We welcome the decision by the An Bord Pleanála to approve planning permission for our project and we thank them for taking the time to provide such a thorough review,’ said Danny Miles of RTP, the parent company of Daly Products Ltd.
Commenting in his report, the inspector Mr Morrison noted that any business in this location should be ‘light’ industry and that he was unable to categorise the proposed factory as ‘light industry’.
He also added: ‘Based on the submitted information, particularly with respect to noise and air quality, the applicant has failed to demonstrate that the proposal would be compatible with these amenities and the wider public health of those residing in the area and so, in these circumstances, it would be premature for the Board to conclude that the proposed use constitutes a light industrial use.’
Mr Morrison said he therefore believed that granting permission would be ‘to risk a contravention of the Local Area Plan, serious injury to the amenities of residential property in the vicinity of the site, and the jeopardising of public health.’
He concluded: ‘The proposal would therefore be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.’
Having voted against his decision, the Board then attached conditions to the permission, including the installation of a balancing tank at the site, for the storage of cooling water discharge. The details of the tank’s size and discharge rate are to be agreed with Cork County Council.
This measure is included ‘in order to protect the environment,’ ABP stated.
The developers must also have a construction management plan, also agreed with the Council, and restrictions have been imposed regarding noise levels during ‘site operations’.
‘Water pollution protection infrastructure’ must also be installed on the surface water drainage system – and in place before the factory opens.
must be monitored and maintained at all times, to the satisfaction of Cork County Council, ‘to ensure the protection of Roaringwater Bay and Islands Special Area of Conservation’.
There are also conditions imposed relating to landscaping, bicycle stands, disabled access, flood protection, traffic safety measures, and an Irish Water connection.
A spokesperson for An Bord Pleanala said that anyone willing to seek a judicial review now has eight weeks to seek the review. If the High Court opts to hear the case in the commercial court, which fast-tracks hearings, a decision could be made in four to seven months.
A judicial review cannot overturn a planning decision – as it is only examining if process and procedure were correctly followed. If it quashes the original decision, then the case will be sent back for the process to be rectified.
And if the appellants seek to bring the case to higher courts thereafter, the debate could rage on for several years.
The spokesperson cited the ongoing case regarding Apple’s planned data centre for Athenry which has been challenged in the courts. The planning decision, made in 2016, could take until 2020 to reach a conclusion, he noted.