Traveller horse project blocked

Plans for the first Traveller horse grazing project of its kind in Cork have been reined in.

City officials have admitted that they have to go back to the drawing board after Cork County Council refused planning permission for the scheme on a 35-acre site on the northern banks of the River Lee near Leemount, on the western outskirts of the city.

County planners said the site is within an area under consideration as a route option for the Cork Northern Ring Road scheme and that the application was “premature” pending the final determination of the route.

Plans for the project emerged from a horse seminar in the city in March 2013 which heard evidence that such Traveller horse projects have reduced the number of impounded horses, reduced levels of antisocial behaviour, and reduced costs to local authorities of dealing with various horse issues.

A steering group which included, amongst others, representatives of the Traveller Visibility Group (TVG), gardaí, Cork City Council, the ISPCA, the HSE and Cork City Partnership, then set about developing plans for such a project in Cork.

The city council identified a site at Coolymurrahue which, it was hoped, would facilitate the grazing of up to 20 horses owned by 10 families.

Planning documents show that 96 public submissions were made opposing the project. One submission from the Clogheen Kerry Pike Community Association contained over 200 individual submissions from local residents objecting to the proposal.

A submission from 27 county councillors questioned the suitability of the site, noting concerns about possible flood risks, roads and traffic issues, and the impact on the scenic character of the area.

However, the project was supported by letters from the HSE, the Cork Traveller Women’s Network and Meitheal Mara which said it would be of considerable benefit to the Traveller community in Cork in terms of supporting cultural identity.

The city’s head of environment and recreation, David Joyce, said the project team is fully committed to the development of a successful horse project, and is due to meet next week to discuss their next steps.

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