A rare species of bat, as well as the soprano pipistrelle bat, may hold up development of the €180m Project Opera development in Limerick.
The office and leisure development in the city centre is facing delay after objections were raised by the heritage group An Taisce over a threatened species of bat nesting on site.
Project Opera is expected to transform the heart of Limerick, with a large part of being turned into a development of offices, houses, an apart-hotel, a new city library, cafes and restaurants.
The scheme could also deliver up to 3,000 new jobs.
But in a submission to An Bord Pleanala, Limerick An Taisce claimed at least three separate species of bat have been identified on the site, all of which are protected under both European and Irish legislation.
An Taisce has identified the common pipistrelle bat, the soprano pipistrelle, the Leisler’s bat and the lesser horseshoe bat as being in situ on the site in Rutland Street.
“The proposed development will result in permanent loss of the bat roost at Nine Rutland Street of a near threatened species,” says the An Taisce submission made by the organisation’s Limerick chair Michelle Hayes .
“A range of habitats and protected species will be negatively impacted. In addition, some bat species, including the lesser horseshoe bat are completely intolerant to light. Bat boxes are completely unsuitable for this protected species,” she argues.
Ms Hayes warned if the development is granted, it will have a “major negative and oppressive visual impact, will irreversibly injure the skyline, is out of scale and out of character and will completely overshadow Bank Place, the Quays, the Abbey River, the Hunt Museum, Barrington’s Hospital, the Locke Bar etc.”
The group compared the central block in the development – which will rise 15-storeys high – to Dublin’s ill-fated Ballymun tower, which was demolished due to anti-social behaviour, drug crime and social disorder.
A final decision is due in September.