Holiday homes plan blocked over river pollution fears

The Glenbeigh Racing Festival on Rossbeigh Beach, Co Kerry. Plans for eight holiday cottages by a local hotelier have been refused as the village’s public sewer is already at capacity, particularly during the summer months. Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

A State fisheries body has succeeded in stopping the development of holiday homes on the Ring of Kerry over fears it could cause pollution to a local river.

An Bord Pleanála has overturned a decision by Kerry County Council to approve plans by a local hotel owner in Glenbeigh to construct eight traditional holiday cottages in the west Kerry village.

It follows a successful appeal by Inland Fisheries Ireland against the proposed development by the owner of the Towers Hotel in Glenbeigh, Brendan Sweeney.

IFI had warned that the village’s public sewer was already at capacity.

It said any increase in the system would exacerbate the current inadequate treatment of effluent, particularly during the summer months.

IFI also claimed any further connections to the existing system would be unsustainable.

Mr Sweeney, who also plans to merge two existing car parks at the hotel to create 18 extra car park spaces, subsequently proposed a new sewage treatment system to serve the site which was considered acceptable by IFI.

However, An Bord Pleanála ruled that the development of the holiday homes adjacent to the hotel would be premature given the existing deficiencies in the village’s wastewater treatment plant.

The board said allowing construction of the holiday homes to go ahead in such circumstances would set “an undesirable precedent for further inappropriate development in the vicinity of the site”.

It claimed the project would be prejudicial to public health because of its potential to impact on the quality of the Behy River which flows through Glenbeigh.

The board also rejected the plans for the holiday homes on the grounds that their location, combined with the excessive length of an associated car park adjacent to the main road on the Ring of Kerry, “would be detrimental to the visual amenities and character of the village”.

A report by an inspector for An Bord Pleanála noted that the local area plan, which had expired in 2016, considered the number of holiday homes in Glenbeigh was affecting the village’s vibrancy and that holiday home developments should therefore be limited.

A similar plan for 10 holiday homes had been refused by the council in 2017.

Irish Water confirmed that Glenbeigh’s waste water treatment plant was currently overloaded, particularly in summer.

It also said that it had no plans to upgrade the system.

Irish Water said it was also unlikely to be a priority site for inclusion in its next investment plan.

IFI said it had noted gross contamination in the vicinity of the outflow outlet to the Behy River over the past number of years.

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