We would like to highlight the proposals for Skibbereen that were outlined in the Cork County Development Plan 2014 – 2022.
This plan was prepared in accordance with the steps set out in the Planning and Development Acts.
It was adopted by the Members of Cork County Council on the 8th December 2014 and came into effect on 15th January 2015.
It was expected to remain in force (subject to any interim variations that the Council may make) until late 2020.
It was a six year development plan for the County that attempted to set out, as concisely as possible Cork County Council’s current thinking, at the time, on planning policy looking towards the horizon year of 2022. The plan also set out the overall planning and sustainable development strategy for the county which must be consistent with the National Spatial Strategy 2002-2020 and the South West Regional Planning Guidelines 2010-2022.
The full document can be read here. It is not lacking in detail. It is not lacking in vision. It is not lacking in forward thinking towards a West Cork and Skibbereen that might thrive in the future despite all the challenges that we are faced with.
We think the following extracts provide a good idea of the content of this plan and also why we believe that the proposed Plastic Factory is completely contrary to the intention of this plan.
Development Plan Principles
1.2.8 This Plan provides a blueprint for the development of County Cork for the latter part of this decade and the early years of the next. The Development Plan vision and main aims for the County will be underpinned by the core principles of sustainability, social inclusion, quality of design and climate change adaptation and a brief description of these areas is set out as follows:
Sustainability : the concept of sustainable development can be defined as ”development which meets the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
Vision for this Plan
Through the application of the planning principles set out in this document, to provide for the development of County Cork as an attractive, competitive and sustainable place to live, visit and do business, where the quality of its economy, natural and built environment, culture and the strength and viability of its communities are to the highest standards.
2.1.1 This chapter sets out the Core Strategy for the County in line with guidance, strategies and policies at national and regional level.
2.1.2 All of the detailed policies and objectives of this plan are intended to contribute to the delivery of a number of key aims for the county as a whole.
They are as follows:
a) Enhanced quality of life for all, based on quality residential, working and recreational
environments and sustainable transportation patterns;
b) Sustainable patterns of growth in urban and rural areas, that are well balanced throughout the county reflecting the need to reduce energy consumption and green house gas emissions, reduce use of nonrenewable resources while taking account of the need to plan for the effects of climate change;
c) Sustainable and balanced economic investment, in jobs and services, to sustain the future population of the County together with wise management of the County’s environmental, heritage and cultural assets;
d)An effective physical and community infrastructure supporting living, economic recovery, enterprise and social integration;
e)A quality built environment integrating the conservation of County Cork’s built heritage with best practice modern architecture and urban design;
f) A network of enhanced natural resources of clean water, biodiversity, nature conservation areas, landscape, coastline, greenbelts, parks and open spaces, and agricultural land;
g) Responsible guardianship of the County so that it can be handed on to future generations in a healthy state.
6.1 Employment Hierarchy
Skibbereen : Focus on local catchment employment. Infrastructure programme to service identified supply of land for future employment development focused on medium to small business/industry.
What is Green Infrastructure?
13.1.1 Green Infrastructure is the term used to describe the County’s network of environmental assets, urban and rural, which are capable of delivering a wide range of environmental and quality of life benefits for local communities. It includes natural, semi natural and developed environments, including upland habitats, wetlands, woodlands, groundwater, rivers and their floodplains, lakes canals and coastal areas. Green infrastructure resources can include nature conservation areas, farmland, urban parks, green belts and linkages such as greenways which could include paths, trails and cycleways. These assets can be both public and private, with or without public accessibility, in urban or rural areas.
13.1.2 The purpose of this section of the plan is to highlight the importance of the identification, protection, management and development of these environmental assets. A key element in this overall approach is to develop linkages or green corridors between assets so that the value can be enhanced. These linkages could be a variety of sizes and scales and could be either ecological and / or recreational.
What are the Benefits of Green Infrastructure Planning?
Enhance the urban and rural environment; improve quality of life leading to joined up investment and employment opportunities by encouraging a more integrated/holistic approach to managing our natural assets to the benefit of all sections of our community.
Avoid possible future conflicts between the need to protect our natural assets and the need to maximise their economic and social potential by minimising potential for conflict between landuse planning and biodiversity conservation objectives.
13.2.3 There are a number of key themes which the Green Infrastructure Strategy will seek to address which include;
• Sustainable Water Management.
• Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.
• Recreation and Amenity Provision.
• Landscape Protection.
• Biodiversity Protection.
• Archaeological and Architectural Heritage
• Flood Risk / Alleviation.
County Development Plan Objective
GI 7-4: Development on the approaches to Towns and Villages
Ensure that the approach roads to towns and villages are protected from inappropriate development, which would detract from the setting and historic character of these settlements.
Water Framework Directive
13.10.1 The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is a key initiative aimed at improving water quality throughout the EU.
The WFD was adopted in 2000 and requires governments to take a new approach to managing all their waters: rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs, groundwater, protected areas (including wetlands and other waterdependent ecosystems), estuaries (transitional) and coastal waters up to 1 nautical mile.
County Development Plan Objective ZU 5-1: Control of Major Accident Hazards
Reduce the risk and limit the consequences of major industrial accidents by, where appropriate, taking into account the advice of the Health and Safety Authority when proposals for new development are considered.
In 2016, the land, now currently under application by RTP/Daly Products & owned by the IDA, was re-zoned as follows :
Proposed Amendment to Skibbereen Electoral Area Local Area Plan
This proposed amendment involves the zoning of 3.1 hectares of current ‘Town Greenbelt’ lands for ‘Business’ use in order to facilitate the expansion of the existing “Business” lands to the north zoned B-02 in the Skibbereen Environs Section of the current Skibbereen Electoral Area Local Area Plan 2011.
There are no Natura 2000 sites located within or near Skibbereen Town. No aspects of the proposed amendment have been identified which would be likely to give rise to impacts on any Natura 2000 sites. Accordingly, the requirement for the proposed amendment to be subject to Appropriate Assessment is screened out.
Despite all the best intentions of the plan, the idea that trucking thousands of tonnes of Plastic Nurdles from Cork Harbour to the Baltimore Road is considered not worthy of a traffic assessment, an environmental assessment or a hazard assessment. The air emissions from the factory and the millions of liters of waste water are also not worthy of assessment or study. Nor is there any consideration of the damage that such a factory will do to the image and identity of Skibbereen that is so much a part of its appeal for the tourism and recreational economy.
There is in fact, no one guiding the strategic development of Skibbereen into the next decade. The only plan that is now considered is that of a privately owned US Plastic Company and the relief for the IDA that they can dispense with any involvment or interest in Skibbereen through this proposed usage of their last site here.
Like you, we would like to see the implementation of the key concepts of the 2014 Plan. We would like to see the idea of the environment we live in being as important, if not more important, than the considerations of corporate entities that blow into Ireland to take advantage of our lax controls, our off-shore tax laws and the short sighted belief of many of our politicians that jobs at any cost are the best we can hope for. We would like to see our local businesses who are dependent directly on tourism or indirectly dependent on the welbeing of that economy to raise their voices and ask the questions that need to be asked.
We would also note that the support that is being ushered towards this development is worthy of further investigation to understand better who exactly is going to benefit from this development and are there secondary developments that may find an easier path to permission if this proposal is allowed.
There are many questions surrounding this proposed development and many that are still to be asked in public by the public and for the public. If you would like to share with us your thoughts, ideas or questions surrounding this proposed development, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org