The video came from Saoi O’Connor – who has been leading the School Climate Strikes in Ireland. We have met many times with herself and her parents, Isolda and Brendan, and this has led to meetings with the Bantry Bay Kelp Campaign as well.
It goes without saying that we are hugely grateful to Greta for taking an interest in our campaigns and for taking the time to make and send on the video. Without the networking between all our groups, none of this would be possible.
The transcript of the video is as follows :
“Hi, my name is Greta Thunberg. I am a Swedish activist and I just want to send my full support to the climate activists in Cork fighting to stop the building of a new plastic factory and the harvesting of kelp along the coastlines. These two proposals would be catastrophic for the climate and the environment especially since natural rewilding is one of the most effective and best ways to stop the climate crisis. So, you have our full support and we stand behind you and we are very grateful that you are fighting for everyone’s future and don’t give up – never stop. Thank you.”
It has been a little while since we sent out an update; and the SOS stand at the Saturday Market in Skibbereen is getting visitors inquiring into “what is happening now?”
The answer is ‘Not A Lot”. As you know we were granted a Judicial Review by the High Court and we had a Court Date of March 12th. The case was postponed for 4 weeks by request of An Bord Pleanála ( ABP ) . This is a usual occurrence. When a Judicial Review is granted the parties to that review are notified and given the opportunity to let the Courts know if they will be contesting the case.
The case has been adjourned again twice since then, by request of An Bord Pleanála; and so we are still waiting to hear their position. The next date in Court is July 2nd so we may have a better idea of “what is happening now” after that day.
An Bord Pleanála’s reason for adjournment is that they are overrun with cases.
In the mean time the Government has declared a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency and have stated they are committed to the National Mitigation Plan and the National Adaptation Plan. However at the same time as making this commitment, Government Departments are making decisions that run contrary to this declaration, such as the granting of planning permission for an incinerator in Cork Harbour, the destruction of an important Carbon Sink in Bantry Bay through mechanical harvesting of Kelp, the granting of exploration licences for oil and gas companies off the Coast of Kerry and of course the granting of Planning Permission for raw oil based polymer to be compounded in Skibbereen.
In all these places local people have come together in fund raising to take An Bord Pleanála to the High Court in order to challenge a decision that spells ecological devastation and runs contrary to the declared Climate and Biodiversity Emergency.
Judicial Review is not simply handed out to any one, however in all of these cases the High Court has ruled that the community have a reasonable case to bring and thus An Bord Pleanála have a case to answer.
If An Bord Pleanála are overrun with these cases as they claim, then surely there is something wrong with the criteria or process that they follow in their judgement.
These recent and ongoing actions of government departments, such as the planning and licensing departments demonstrate that in the absence of a clear and detailed government policy at a national level for ALL government departments to adhere to, we will not meet climate change targets however much we declare an emergency.
We all have a responsibility to pressure our politicians to create this clear government policy rapidly.
The Changing Climate is not waiting for us to catch up.
Save Our Skibbereen is currently seeking a Judicial Review of the planning permission granted to RTP Company for their 5000M² Thermoplastic Factory at Poundlick, Skibbereen. This development cannot go ahead while this legal process is ongoing.
An Bord Pleanála’s Inspector recommended refusing permission and made the following observations before his final conclusion :
1. The absence of specific information on potential pollutants, a baseline survey of existing air quality, and modelling of the impact of the proposal is highly unsatisfactory.
2. I conclude that the applicant has failed to demonstrate that the noise and emissions affecting air quality that would be generated by the operational proposal would be compatible with the residential amenities in the area.
3. The absence of specific information on potential air pollutants and a relevant assessment of the same precludes the applicant from demonstrating that public health would be safeguarded.
4. 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.
5. To grant permission would be to risk a contravention of the said Local Area Plan, serious injury to the amenities of residential property in the vicinity of the site, and the jeopardising of public health.
6. The proposal would therefore be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
7. I, therefore, recommend that the proposal be refused.
Public health should be a concern for all candidates in the upcoming local elections. That it is being put at risk should be cause for concern. That Save Our Skibbereen has to go to the courts to seek the over turning of the planning permission is because Cork County Council and An Bord Pleanala have failed in their duty.
Alongside the public health risk, there are other risks to the existing jobs in Skibbereen and West Cork. At a time when many businesses are engaged in meetings, conversations and workshops in developing the tourism brand here, this development goes against all the marketing & branding of Skibbereen and West Cork as a place to visit, as a place that is the origin of high quality foods and drinks, and is a place where our environment can be experienced and enjoyed.
This development will do untold damage to all these sectors.
All other candidates have expressed no interest in our campaign or have lobbied on behalf of RTP Company privately and/or publicly.
To choose silence on this issue is to choose the side of RTP Company over public health.
To not even engage with our campaign, which is supported throughout Skibbereen and West Cork, leaves us lost for words.
Public bodies, who exist to serve the public, must be held responsible when they cease to uphold this most basic of their responsibilities. Otherwise our system of democracy becomes but a vehicle for the profit of the few at the great cost of the many.
That this is of no concern to the majority of candidates in the upcoming elections is not just deeply disappointing, it is deeply threatening to the future well being of everyone who lives in Skibbereen, West Cork and beyond.
What is of importance to these candidates?
Is the health of our children not important?
Is public health not important?
Is the future of our tourism industry not important?
Is our food industry not important?
Are our waterways, marine life and Wild Atlantic Way not important?
Is the strategic direction of the development of Skibbereen and West Cork not important?
Is a Plastic Company more important?
We hope you contact all candidates and ask these questions. Democracy becomes a process we can all take part in during the elections. Make sure your vote counts.
It is what every candidate will be seeking.
Do not give it away lightly.
Many people in Skibbereen have been told falsehoods about this factory. To this day, people are still spreading rumours about the nature of this factory and pretending it is some recycling plant or that the emissions are less than those coming from a car.
An Bord Pleanála’s Inspector saw through all this nonsense. This is a dangerous development. Have no doubt about that.
Enjoy a selection of films where SOS campaigners and supporters talk about the harm to the environment and public health that the proposed Plastic Factory will bring to Skibbereen and West Cork. See also an exclusive excerpt from the acclaimed documentary, Trashed, narrated by and starring Oscar Winning Actor Jeremy Irons.
Trashed (film) - 20 Minute excerpt - narrated by Jeremy Irons
Interview with Brendan McCormack, SOS Campaigner, at Poundlick, Skibbereen
Interview with Fiona Vincent, SOS Campaigner, at Poundlick, Skibbereen
SOS Public Meeting - December 2018 featuring David Puttnam & Stephen Freke
SOS Public Meeting, October 2018, West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen
Proposed Factory Site, Poundlick, Skibbereen - Photos & Videos by Garry Minihane, December 2018