Plastics factory approval could damage West Cork's 'green image'

An Bord Pleanala has approved planning permission for a plastics factory in West Cork.

Plastics factory approval could damage West Cork's 'green image'

An Bord Pleanala has approved planning permission for a plastics factory in West Cork.

Residents who appealed a Cork County Council decision to grant planning for a 4,800 sq/km thermoplastics facility in Skibbereen today received confirmation from An Bord Pleanala their appeal had been rejected.

A spokesperson advised appellants conditions would be attached to the decision.

A total of 39 residents had, in January last, appealed the council's decision and had formed a campaign group called Save Our Skibbereen (SOS).

Brendan McCormack, spokesman for SOS said the group was “disappointed” but not surprised by yesterday’s decision and would take the campaign further, if possible. “We’ve always expected this day,” he said. “Our next step will be to read the attached conditions and consult with our legal advisors about seeking a judicial review.”

Documents lodged as part of the planning process by Daly Products Ltd, a subsidiary of US multinational RTP Company, said the plant would create up to 40 jobs for the town which had been welcomed by county councillors.

However, campaigners said their fear was the planned factory would damage West Cork’s green image. “It’s astounding that in 2018 when everyone is so concerned about plastic pollution, that a plastics factory is now being put in Skibbereen on the Wild Atlantic Way,” Mr McCormack said. Over 6,400 signatures had been gathered in an online petition opposing the project.

The factory site, on former IDA land at Poundlick on the town's Baltimore Road, was rezoned from green belt to light industry in 2015. The factory promoters have family connections to the nearby Drinagh area.

The RTP Company had suffered a fire at their French production facility in Beaune-Vignoles near Dijon in October. According to the French press, the fire took five fire brigades and 50 staff a day to get under control, using specialist foam canons. RTP’s customer services representative at the Beaune-Vignoles branch, Christine Sordet said an investigation was still underway as to the cause of the fire which began at night-time in a warehouse.

“The fire was only in our warehouse of finished goods,” Ms Sordet said. “The factory where the machinery is housed is still functioning.”

The head of RTP Company's European operations, Danny Miles has welcomed the decision, yesterday, by An Bord Pleanala to approve planning permission for a new plant in Skibbereen in West Cork.

The international company has direct links with the village of Drinagh, near Skibbereen.

Mr Mills thanked the appeal board "for taking the time to provide such a thorough review".

Skibbereen-based Cllr Joe Carroll said the Bord Pleanala decision was “good news” for an area which had found it hard to attract investment in industry in the past. “As a local councillor, it’s my role to welcome any jobs I can bring to West Cork,” Mr Carroll said.

But I’d have no welcome for something that could impact negatively on people’s lives.

Cllr Carroll said County Hall planners had “looked at the application in every possible way”. The factory, he said, would provide a much-needed boost to the region. “We’re always looking for people to move back to the area so I give this a welcome, with a caution.”

Meanwhile, Evie Nevin, a Social Democrats candidate in the next local elections, said she was "shocked and appalled" at the decision.

"Many people say it's great to bring jobs to the area but, at what cost?

"This type of thinking is the very reason our planet is in crisis," she said.

"There is plenty of opportunity to create jobs with all the investment into the Wild Atlantic Way.

"West Cork is a readymade brand and yet there is no real initiative to make it so."

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