Roche and An Taisce.

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    • #708009
      modular man

      Environment Minister Dick Roche has criticised An Taisce for opposing a planned €2bn expansion of the Intel factory in Co Kildare.
      The heritage protection body has appealed against a decision to grant planning permission for the expansion on the grounds that it will cause traffic problems in Leixlip.

      Mr Roche, a frequent critic of the body, today accused it of objecting to a project that was “critically important” for Ireland.

      “I do not understand the direction that that organisation has taken in recent times,” he said. “It has been involved in a series of controversies which, in my view, are entirely unnecessary.

      “The Intel investment in this country is critically important and any organisation [wishing] to raise objections would want to consider very carefully the implications of what they’re doing.”

    • #760110

      At least he has stopped complaining about the crisp packets

      Roche should know better than to interfere in a matter that is before An Bord Pleanala that has nothing to do with any part of the Intel production process, it relates solely to car parking provision and traffic management.

      Roche should also not be making any statements in relation to industrial policy that is the remit of Minister Martin.

    • #760111

      I suppose he is speaking in his capacity as minister for the planning process. His comment are simply aimed at an easy target but I am sure the hard skins at AT will pay it the brief attention it deserves.

    • #760112


      National conservation groups register complaint to Ombudsman as Minister consistently ignores communications from them regarding major nature protection issues.

      Four national environmental groups – An Taisce, Irish Peatland Conservation Council, the Irish Wildlife Trust and Coastwatch Ireland –who reflect a joint membership of more than 13,000 citizens, are calling on the government to deal with fundamental flaws in nature protection before more damage is done.

      The four environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs) involved have made repeated requests since October 2004 to meet with the minister to discuss these issues. However, he has refused to communicate with them and they have been left with no choice but to register a complaint with the Ombudsman regarding this lack of communication.

      The issues of concern to the ENGOs are urgent issues which, if left unaddressed, will result in the further deterioration of hundreds Ireland’s special and unique natural areas.

      A spokesperson for the group said: “Ireland has, under the EU Habitat’s Directive, designated special areas of conservation (SACs). These sites have been selected for the exceptional habitats and wildlife they support. However, the boundaries of these sites, after years of careful selection process, are now being arbitrarily changed to suit landowners, including the owners of illegal dumps. Information on these changes is being denied to the public and the expert ENGOs. This is a terrible waste of money and time, not to mention irreversible damage to unique wildlife areas.”

      This further weakening of the protection of our special nature conservation sites has come in the wake of a multitude of legal EU ‘reasoned opinions’ (the opinion of the European Commission on legal matters) and prosecutions from the European courts regarding this government’s environmental record, and a mounting number of complaints to the European Commission concerning nature conservation designations.

      The second issue of concern surrounds the failure of the government to protect Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs), many of which have been recognised as important wildlife areas since the 1970’s. At the moment most of these sites are proposed NHAs, and as such receive no legal protection. The will not be legally protected until the Minister officially announces them as fully protected NHAs.

      Another worrying trend is the lack of meaningful public participation in environmental management, a concept which is fundamental and enshrined in international laws. Ireland is now one of the last EU member states which has not ratified the Aarhus Convention on access to environmental information and justice.

      The group of ENGOs are frustrated at the Minister’s lack of response to their requests for a meeting with him to discuss these pertinent issues. They have registered a complaint with the Ombudsman and are hoping that this will finally bring about a meeting, at which they can sit down and talk openly with the Minister about their concerns regarding nature protection in Ireland.

      SACs are internationally important conservation areas, which are protected as part of the EU network of protected sites, otherwise known as the Natura 2000 Network. However, the boundaries of these sites are being systematically changed in Ireland behind closed doors. An informal appeals process exists where a landowner can approach a member of staff of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), the governmental body responsible for the protection of Ireland’s heritage, and effectively get the boundaries of an SAC changed. “This informal process takes place behind closed doors, neither application nor outcome is advertised. Although the law says that the boundary changes are to be made on scientific grounds only, there is usually no paper trail on the science taken into account”, a spokesperson for the group stated.

      One shocking example of this occurred at Carrigower River, Special Area of Conservation in Co. Wicklow, an area protected for salmon spawning beds, otters, and several rare and protected freshwater animals. The boundaries of this special protected site were changed earlier this year to accommodate an illegal dump (the Whitestown Dump). An active local group met the minister over this, who claimed to have no knowledge of this alteration of the site boundaries. Clearly, this is in breach of EU law as no changes to such special protected sites are allowed without ministerial consent.

      Two national internal agreements have been made between specific lobby groups and the NPWS. No environmental stakeholder group was involved or informed of these agreements. The first was with golf links owners to take all national links courses out of the Natura Network despite the fact that sand-dune habitats are threatened across the world. After identifying the dune systems to be included in the Natura Network and drawing the site boundaries, the links course informal mass appeal process took place. A spokesperson for the group said, “Now, many of our most special protected dune systems have big bites missing. There seems to be no scientific reason as to why these sections are omitted”.

      The second agreement just being implemented now, is an agreement reached between the IFA and the NPWS. Under this agreement, the boundary of land included in salmonid river SACs has been reduced from 50 metres to 2.5 meters from the river bank, which greatly reduces the protection given to these sensitive and valuable waters. Of particular concern is that the new site boundaries are being drawn up without site visits, despite departmental claims that boundaries will not be changed where ‘important features’ are present, yet these have neither been defined nor has a strategy for their identification been developed. The four national NGOs believe that this agreement can only compromise the integrity of Ireland’s SACs further, and have identified possible infringements of European law governing the designation and management of these sites, including the requirement to change boundaries only on ‘scientific grounds’.

      The groups have now referred the matter to the ombudsman’s office and are left no choice but to draft complaints to the European Commission. “We are fed up with politely asking to be met with and informed of major changes. Our concerns have been consistently ignored. This total refusal to communicate shows up the aversion of this minister to involve major citizens organisations in key issues”

    • #760113

      Well done! Its about time poeple started kicking ass with this governments calous disregard for the environment. The best approach to take here is a united approach and I hope the Ombudsman can do something about the legal limbo that pNHAs find themselves in.

    • #760114

      Roche is so arrogant that he makes Martin Cullen and Padraig Flynn look positively meek by comparison.
      The only saving grace is that people like him always end up hanging themselves because of their almost cosmic belief in their own (in)ability.
      His “attack” on the New York Times article about Wicklow’s lamentable environmental record was another dinger. It just beggars belief that he can be a Minister, let alone Minister for the Environment.
      This is from his website:-

      “Dick has castigated Deputy McManus and Councillor DeBurca for comments in the New York Times & International Herald Tribune in which both portray Bray and County Wicklow in the most unflattering terms.
      Deputy McManus and Councillor DeBurca seem incapable of avoiding a cheap headline even when, as in this case, serious damage is inflicted by their actions.
      Both articles portray Bray and Wicklow in the most unflattering terms.
      McManus suggests that the place is run by some form of Mafia, odd coming from the Deputy Leader of one of the political parties controlling Bray Council.
      It is true that there is a major problem with the old dump at Bray Harbour. Bray is by no means the only town in this country or elsewhere with an old dump that requires attention. New York State, for example, has had more than its fair share of problems with major landfill sites and toxic dumps over the years, problems on a vastly greater scale than anything encountered in Ireland or indeed in Europe. Yet McManus and DeBurca have chosen to portray Bray and county Wicklow as being uniquely despoiled by litter & waste. There are certainly problems in county Wicklow and indeed in Bray but the problems should be addressed by the local councils and in particular, in the case of Bray by Bray Town Council which is controlled by McManus & DeBurca. A solution to the problems in Bray can and should be found in the local council. It will certainly not be found in the pages of either the New York Times or the international Herald Tribune, Minister Roche said.
      The hypocrisy of McManus and DeBurca is demonstrated by the fact that neither have made any positive contribution in support of the creation of a modern waste infrastructure in Ireland. Yet both decided to criticised the position in this country in the international media.
      There is a reference to the not in my backyard syndrome in the New York Times article. DeBurca and McManus would know a great deal about that syndrome. Both, for example, have opposed the idea of creating proper landfill space in Ireland and both also oppose the idea of creating proper heat treatment facilities for waste. Neither have added any constructive contribution to the problems of dealing with the waste issues in county Wicklow. Both have been long on criticism but short in
      terms of solutions.
      The most hypocritical aspect of McManus and DeBurca’s comments is that their parties have combined to take control of Bray town Council. Yet DeBurca and McManus had done nothing positive in Bray to deal with the problem. Bray town Council is unique in that it was offered government funding last year to build a recycling centre and to date it has failed to do so when much smaller towns up and down the country have built modern well used recycling centres.
      The comments from Deputy Mc Manus are particularly damaging from the point of view of tourism in county Wicklow and from the point of view of attracting foreign investment into the county.
      McManus portrays county Wicklow as being like something out of the Sopranos. Suggesting that county Wicklow is run by the Mafia might grab Deputy Mc Manus a cheap headline but it does absolutely nothing for tourism in County Wicklow and even less for industrial development.
      Over the last few months we have had the usual hand wringing from the Labour Party about jobs in county Wicklow. Deputy Mc Manus has put headline grabbing ahead of the interests of people who are trying to encourage inward investment into county Wicklow. The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune are papers which are widely circulated in the United States and which are read by the business community, the
      very people who make investment decisions. Suggesting that county Wicklow is run by the Mafia or that the county has problems which it cannot control will undoubtedly do damage to efforts to encourage the same US industrial leaders to invest in this county.
      McManus has also done irreparable damage to tourism in Co Wicklow. Bray Chamber of Commerce, Bray Tourism & County Wicklow Tourism has been making huge efforts in recent times to encourage more tourism into County Wicklow. What tour operator in the United States reading the comments from Deputy Mc Manus would put Bray on a tourism route? Again Deputy McManus’ insatiable appetite for headlines has put her personal interest ahead of the interests of people who are trying to do something positive for County Wicklow.
      The people of Wicklow are entitled to an apology from McManus & DeBurca.”

    • #760115

      What upsets me most is that the likes of Roche protray an Taisce as if it is some kind of decision making body eg.if they objects thats the project stalled! As we all know, all an Taisce can do, as can any one else, is make a submission that is taken into account by the county council or an bord planalla, as every who uses this site knows. The only reason that so many of an Taisce’s objections are up held is that they are in accordance with good planning guidelines. An Taisce has little or no power, yet the likes of Roche like to blame unpopular desicions on them.

      Equally, FF introduced in the fine of E20 for making objections, to undermine the planning process and stop objections. I heard over two years ago the the EU had over ruled this and Mary O’Rouke in the Senate siad that all objectors would be refunded. That two years ago dose anyone know why the fine is still there?

    • #760116

      Roche would do anything but face up to the government’s appalling environmental track record.

      He loses every time Ireland is taken to the European Court for breaches of EU environmental policy (which Ireland has voluntarily signed up to), and there are massive fines on the way. Then people will begin to wonder what the idiots have been at…

    • #760117
      modular man
      crestfield wrote:
      . The only reason that so many of an Taisce’s objections are up held is that they are in accordance with good planning guidelines. QUOTE]

      This might seem like a naive question, but why are planning permissions granted by seemingly intelligent, qualified people if they are not in accordance with good planning guidelines.
      If An Taisce are constantly successful in their objections (and I don’t know weather they are or not) , then surely the problem lies in the planning dept. Are planning officers not following the guidelines, or , as I suspect, are the guidelines open to interpretation?
      Maybe planning permission is granted for large projects in the full knowledge that An Taisce will object and that it will all come out in the wash anyway, i.e. the government depts. would prefer that An Taisce look like the spoilsports whilst they look squeaky clean.
      I know this post is a bit of a ramble but I am seriously confused about the planning process at the moment

      I’ll add a smily for good measure :confused:

    • #760118

      There are lots of things at play…

      Such as the fact that the planning process does not always deliver good planning – you only need look around you for that and the planning system has been in place since 1963. Consider all those suburban housing estates in the middle of nowhere, the building on floodplains,the crap rubbish gracing Dublin city quays,

      Also there are councillors – plenty of scope there to overturn good planning decison for a variety of reasons – lobbying, economics, politics, lack of awareness.

      Then there is bodies like An Taisce itself. Certainly not always successful and certainly not always right. But a valid voice all the same – just like any third party.

      And of course there is the government who very often say one thing but do another, generally a feature of bureaucracies. Such as the supposed protection of our natural heritage as mentioned above. The DoEHLG is supposed to protect these areas, it has declared it its policy and responsiblility to do so but very often its actions fall well short. Lots of reasons again, politics, financial reasons, willpower, knowledge.

    • #760119

      Co. Leitrim has no single landfill within county boundaries. It’s just all exported and is someone else’s problem. This is a microcosm of the nation in our attitudes to dealing with such issues.

    • #760120

      @modular man wrote:

      This might seem like a naive question, but why are planning permissions granted by seemingly intelligent, qualified people if they are not in accordance with good planning guidelines.

      Local Authorities are inherently pro-development; they are in competition for rates with the adjoining Local Authority, and want to see ‘action’ in their area. There is huge pressure on professional planners from senior staff and management to approve development, and recommendations of refusal for a development by a planner – on planning and environmental grounds – are often overturned by a Manager.

      The question you have to ask is why are such a huge proportion of Local Authority decisions overturned on appeal?
      Yes, there are serious deficiencies in the Irish Planning system.

    • #760121

      Modular Man, the planning process presents the bare minimum of guidelines which have to be adhered to by any developer. Huge amounts of money can be saved by doing the bare minimum or indeed chancing your arm at not even meeting those standards. As a result of this and particularly the lack of willingness by many councils to encourage high quality, bad projects are constantly getting planning permission. Good planning costs money … and many modern developers are only interested in making profit. Developers are favoured in this process because Fianna Fail and Fine Gael support the developers and control many of the councils. I don’t even mean this as a political statement – it’s more a statement of fact. At times, An Taisce can be frustrating objecting to what seem like perfectly good schemes. However, in an An Taisce-less Ireland, planning would be even more disastrous than it already is.

    • #760122

      Ian Lumley of An Taisce will be speaking to Matt Cooper on Today FM in a few minutes about the Intel appeal and in reply to that one-sided piece which appeared in the Business section of the Irish Times today.

    • #760123

      @kefu wrote:

      Good planning costs money …


      as a society we have yet to accept this, it all comes back to the analogy of David McWilliams Kit Kat

    • #760124

      @David McWilliams wrote:

      One-off housing is simply a response to pester power

      17 April 2005 By David McWilliams

      Sorry I forgot to post the article

    • #760125

      Minister for the Environment Dick Roche has defended a cap on the limit of tax concessions which will apply to the new Irish Heritage Trust, launched yesterday. The Minister also defended the absence of any input from An Taisce, which styles itself “The National Trust for Ireland” and which has a history of acquiring heritage properties for conservation. In Russborough House, Co Wicklow, yesterday, Mr Roche said the limit of €6 million in tax concessions for donations would not hamper the Heritage Trust’s ability to acquire significant properties. Each property would be the subject of an individual deal and in some instances, individual donors might want to remain living in the properties when they transferred to State ownership

      Well it is good to see that Dick is supporting heritage close to his heart I’ll bet that the first project will see the acquisition of Abbeville for Eimer Haughey after her one off was turned down.

      This is an insult to the intelligence to the entire conservation movement that the process has concentrated entirely upon habitable dwellings and Frank McDonalds observation in 1985 of popular architectural heritage spawning ‘mutant georgian suburbs’ seems to be about the level that this measure is pitched at.

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