A US company’s decision to withdraw plans to build a controversial plastics factory in West Cork has been hailed as a victory for people power.
Residents and environmentalists who had campaigned against thermoplastic company RTP’s plans for a plant in Skibbereen welcomed confirmation from An Bórd Pleanála that RTP’s Irish subsidiary, Daly Products Ltd, has withdrawn the application and that the case is now closed.
The company told the Irish Examiner that it has no comment on the matter, so it is not clear if it has abandoned the project or not.
Cork County Council granted planning for the development of a thermoplastic compounds production facility at Poundlick, on the Baltimore Road, on the outskirts of Skibbereen, last year.
The decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála, which upheld the council’s decision last November, despite its own inspector advising against it.
Campaign group Save Our Skibbereen (SOS) mounted a High Court challenge to An Bord Pleanála’s decision on a number of grounds, including the plant’s potential impact on protected Natura sites.
There are three Natura sites within 15km of the proposed plant: at Lough Hyne, the Ilen River, and Roaring Water Bay.
SOS successfully argued that the planning appeals board should have sought greater screening of the impact on such sites of water discharges from the plant.
Last July, the board consented to a High Court ruling that its screening for appropriate assessment was in breach of requirements laid out by the European Court of Justice.
A similar issue delayed a blended “public realm and flood defence” project at Morrison’s Island in Cork City.
It resulted in the board consenting to a High Court order quashing its November decision.
At the time, it was expected it would take the company 18 months to two years to address the various issues. But An Bórd Pleanála told SOS earlier this week that the planning application had been withdrawn.
Brendan McCarthy, the SOS chairman, welcomed the news.
“This has been a brilliant example of ‘people power’,” he said.
The SOS campaign counted residents actor Jeremy Irons and former film producer David Puttnam among its supporters.