The application site is situated towards the south-west of Skibberreen. The town centre area of Skibbereen is some 1.3km away from the site. It is a greenfield site and the surrounding area is mostly rural / agricultural in nature. As can be seen in the above image, within a 400m radius from the centre of the site there are at least 22 dwellings in addition to a 50 bed nursing home and 28 retirement homes. Thus, there are easily 100 people living within 400m of the site.
The site is accessed off the R595 regional road. In order to get to the N71 national road it is necessary to pass through the town of Skibbereen.
Prior to 2016 the site was within the administrative boundary of the Skibbereen Local Area Plan (LAP) which was adopted in 2011. At the time of the LAP adoption, the site in question was zoned for ‘green belt’ – see above image.
In 2016, at the behest of the IDA, an amendment was made to the LAP to re-zone the site in question to facilitate light industry and in so doing reduce the green belt area. It is understood RTP Plastics were ultimately behind the zoning and had clear intentions of developing the site. The re-zoning ‘slipped under the radar’ of locals in the area mainly because the call for public consultation was one small ad at the back of the Examiner. The business zoning has been carried forward to the West Cork Municipal District Local Area Plan 2017 which came into effect in August 2017.
It is thus clear that the site has not been historically zoned for development. In fact the opposite is true in that up until 2016 it was a designated greenbelt, no doubt recognisant of the location at the south western periphery of Skibbereen and remote from the main urban settlement. The area is surrounded by one-off dwellings and agricultural land and notwithstanding the formal nature of the current zoning, it makes little sense in land use planning terms and it would seem the current zoning occurred solely to facilitate the proposed development. The arbitrary and nonsensical nature of the zoning is evident in the irregular boundaries it has and the manner in which it wraps around a dwelling accessed off the local road running to the south of the zoning parcel.
This proposed factory would be one of the biggest single industrial developments to ever take place in Skibbereen. This factory will also be for highly specialised and intensive industrial use and it will produce goods to be exported to mostly foreign markets using raw materials that have to be imported and conveyed by truck from Cork Port to this location.
In order to prepare this site for the proposed factory, an excavation of 60,000 tonnes of soil will have to take place. This soil will then have to be trucked during the pre-construction phase out of the site, through Skibbereen and to disposal areas that are as of now unspecified.
The factory will operate 24 hours a day.
The processes involved will use heavy metals and chemicals for which there are four proposed chimneys of height – 17 metres.
The factory will require over 6000 truck journeys to prepare the site and when in operation will involve more than 10 and possibly less than 20 truck journeys each day.
The factory production process will involve highly flammable and combustible processing.
Your councillors were happy to re-zone this land. If they knew why, it is scandalous. If they didn’t know why, it is also scandalous that none of them saw fit to find out exactly why the IDA and Cork County Council wanted this land rezoned.
From Green Belt to a Plastic Nurdle Factory. Just like that.