Members of the county council’s planning policy committee have been told by senior local authority officials that they have been asked by the IDA (Industrial Development Authority) to rezone land for industrial purposes in Skibbereen.
The deputy mayor of Co Cork, Skibbereen-based Fianna Fáil councillor Joe Carroll, said he attended the recent planning policy meeting and heard council officials say they had been asked to rezone the land, which the IDA owns, at Poundlick for industrial purposes.
“This land is adjacent to a number of light industry outlets already on IDA land,” said Mr Carroll. “However, the land in question is part of the green belt in Skibbereen and it has to be rezoned to make it possible for a factory to start operating there, which we believe is an American company.”
He added that the initial part of this process will take place at the county council’s West Cork Municipal meeting on January 4, where the council will propose a variation of the County Development Plan to allow a rezoning to take place.
“Details of the factory are not being disclosed at present by the IDA, but we have learned that the company proposing to build it will employ in the region of 40 to 50 people,” said Mr Carroll.
In recent years, West Cork has suffered from significant job losses. It has also lost out because industrial development is focussed mainly on areas on the periphery of the city, such as Ringaskiddy and Little Island.
These factors have forced many who lived in West Cork to emigrate to seek better opportunities elsewhere in the country or abroad.
Councillors have also argued that the infrastructure in West Cork needs to be urgently upgraded to attract in new industries.
They have repeatedly called for the upgrade of the only main road which leads into it, the N71.
They have also said it is so substandard that the sight of it might turn off industrialists who might want to locate a factory in the region.
Concern has also been expressed that broadband in the area is not up to scratch and this could also be a factor which would deter outside investors.
However, while Mr Carroll said a lot more needs to be done to improve chances of attracting foreign investment, he said the probability of acquiring the American factory was great news for the people of Skibbereen and he warmly welcomed it.