Friday, January 24, 2020

THE pending application for Dun Ailinne to be considered for UNESCO World Heritage Status, as one of the main ‘royal’ prehistory sites in Ireland, is an issue being raised in observations against the appeal by Kilsaran Concrete to the refusal of planning for a new quarry in Ballyshannon.
That was one of the items in last week’s public meeting in Ballyshannon to discuss fighting the appeal to An Bord Pleanála by Kilsaran. The meeting heard that top US archaeologists will support the campaign.
Called by the Ballyshannon Action Group which led a very successful campaign against the original application, the meeting was addressed by chartered planning consultant Peter Thompson, who urged a new campaign of submissions on the appeal by individuals, families, groups and businesses.
“An Bord Pleanála are starting this fresh,” he said, “so everyone who made a submission to the original application should consider doing so again this time.”
Mr Thompson highlighted the fact that in the appeal documents, Kilsaran only addressed the four reasons given by Kildare planners for refusing the application.
These relate to the inadequacy of the local road network, road safety, dust and traffic and devaluation of property, and environmental effects on the Nore and Barrow. Mr Thompson said the appeal hasn’t taken any note of the effects of 40-tonne trucks on other users of the road, especially pedestrians, the effects on private residences in the area, and possible health matters.
For those reasons, he advised that individual submissions would once again be critical. “A hundred letters from individuals will count much more to the inspector than a petition with a hundred signatures,” he said, adding that it was also important that local schools make their own submissions. “The local equine industry too will be very important in this phase. I think it will have a very big impact in the Bord’s considerations.”
In relation to areas outside Ballyshannon getting involved, he noted the previous submission by Kilcullen individuals and organisations. “I think the issue of road safety for Kilcullen is huge, and I’d be advising them to highlight the dangers of the motorway junction.

The message was clear at the meeting in Ballyshannon hall

Opening the meeting earlier, Deputy Martin Heydon had told the packed hall that while the council had come with a very strong refusal decision, ‘we can’t be complacent’. “We need to remain just as united and resolute. This is a completely different phase of the fight.”
The meeting then agreed to the formation of a formal committee for Ballyshannon Action Group. It is led by chairman Jim Burke and vice chair James Delaney. Jim Crawford is head of fundraising, Mick Sayer and Damian joint secretaries, and Anna Sage is treasurer. A communications committee has also been established, comprising Caroline Dillon, Joanna Costello, Peter and Geraldine O’Connor.
Vice chair James Delaney spoke about the archaeological heritage of the area, in particular the Dun Ailinne issue, noting that a key element in the conditions was that such sites be still in a pastoral environment. He said he had been in touch with Professor Pam Crabtree in the US, who has been involved on investigations on the site since the 1970s. “We have the support of world-leading academics on Dun Ailinne,” he said. “We don’t need more quarries in the area, we need attractions for tourists and other visitors, we don’t need things that damage the landscape.”
Among local political representatives present were Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin, and Cllrs Suzanne Doyle, Mark Wall, Ivan Keatley, Aoife Breslin, Peggy O’Dwyer, and Anne Connolly.
Deputy Heydon made the point that it was the level of cross party support for the original campaign that showed the strength of feeling to Kildare Co Council over the initial application.
Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin said she believed the council will be ‘defending robustly’ their refusal. She commended the work of the action group to date. “This is a really good case of people power organising, and working in a very professional way.”
Cllr Suzanne Doyle made the point that it is very important ‘that everybody keep focusing on the fact that the appeal hasn’t addressed certain things’. Cllr Mark Wall noted that Kilsaran is ‘trying to put a huge busy road through a rural community’. “We have to hammer on that.”

Following a questions session which brought up a number of practical areas to address, it was again emphasised that all observations need to be with An Bord Pleanala by 29 January. The group is planning a similar ‘collection evening’ as it did before, to gather submissions which will then be delivered in bulk to the Planning Board.
A fundraising campaign is also being developed.

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