PLANNING permission has been granted for the construction of a new €1.9 million coastguard station at Doolin – bringing to an end a 12-year campaign for a new base.
After a lengthy campaign to acquire a site and funds for a new facility, the Office of Public Works (OPW) lodged plans with Clare County Council last May for a new station.
A decision on the application was expected at the end of June. However, the council put the plan on hold requesting further additional information from the OPW. That was submitted on August 12 and yesterday the local authority confirmed permission has been granted subject to 10 conditions.
“We are delighted and now it is up to the department to provide the money and to follow through with the project which hopefully will not take too long,” Mattie Shannon, leader of the 25-strong volunteer group, said. “As the unit expanded and got busier over the years, the need has grown for a facility which can accommodate all the extra equipment we have acquired. A new station is essential to ensure our resources as a modern day rescue service are used to their potential.”
Minister for Defence Tony Killeen said the unit had been doing wonderful work in entirely unsuitable conditions for the past numbers of years. “The proposed development meets the requirements of the rescue service and I look forward to work getting under way in the near future,” he said. It will be constructed close to the existing pier at Doolin.
In 2006, former transport minister Martin Cullen said he regarded the provision of such accommodation as “a very high priority” and his department said it was searching for temporary accommodation for the unit. However, nothing ever came of that promise. It also emerged earlier this year €1.5 million, which had been set aside for the project, was no longer available.
Fine Gael’s Joe Carey called on Minister Noel Dempsey to ensure funding was quickly made available for the project. “This is vital station for Co Clare and Inis Oírr. There has been a long campaign to provide even a basic facility for the volunteers at Doolin as the conditions they have had to work in are a disgrace. There can be no further delay in the development of such a vital facility.”
The Doolin team is currently based in a 150-year-old shed which is prone to flooding and is not big enough for the unit’s main rescue boat which has to be kept at a house two kilometres away.
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