AN Bord Pleanála’s decision to approve a €10m visitor centre and cable car for Dursey Island may face a judicial review after Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) were given permission by the High Court to bring an application on January 31st.
Cork County Council and Fáilte Ireland were given permission to replace the existing six-person cable car with a two-car desynchronised reversible cable car system capable of carrying 650 people an hour. The permission includes an extensive glass-fronted visitor centre with a gift shop and 84-person cafe on the mainland, with parking for 80 cars and buses, and the 6km access road is to be improved with 10 passing bays.
However, FIE has been given permission by High Court Justice Niamh Hyland to bring an application against the decision. FIE, An Taisce and Birdwatch Ireland all appealed against the grant of permission by Cork County Council in 2019. The groups called the proposal ‘undesirable on multiple grounds’, citing the ecological sensitivity of Dursey and the narrow roads which make it ‘unsuitable for a proposal of this scale.’
Objections centred on the protection of the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds, in particular the rare choughs.
The board’s inspector twice recommended refusal, citing the flaws in the appropriate assessment. However, An Bord Pleanala opted not to accept the recommendations.
FIE said it found files that contain an alternative proposal which was prepared in April 2013 by consultants on behalf of Cork County Council. FIE said this alternative, was never assessed in the 2019 Environmental Impact Assessment.
Cork County Council said it welcomed the decision by An Bord Pléanala to grant permission in November 2021 ‘and will await the outcome of any further processes, if initiated, before progressing.’