The fate of a badger family is at the centre of a fresh planning battle between broadcaster Pat Kenny and the developers of a 104 bedroom nursing home on a site adjacent to the Kenny home in Dalkey, south Dublin.
In a new objection lodged against the Bartra Capital two-to-five storey nursing home, Pat Kenny claims that the “straightforward commercially driven enterprise cannot justify killing the badgers of Bulloch Harbour”.
Earlier this year, Pat and Kathy Kenny and over 30 other households in Dalkey were successful in opposing a previous application by Bartra for a nursing home on the same site after Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council refused the application on a number of grounds.
Bartra appealed that refusal decision to An Bord Pleanala but within days withdrew the appeal and instead lodged the new application which is currently back before the Council.
In the new objection, the Kennys state that they are “mystified” as to why Bartra withdrew the appeal and submitted a virtually unchanged planning application to the Council.
As part of preparation in lodging the application, Bartra hired experts to carry out a Ground Penetrating Radar (GDP) survey which determined the scale of an underground badger sett complex identified by three entrances on the proposed development site.
A Badger Conservation Plan lodged with the application states that once proposed mitigation measures have been implemented for the local badgers, the proposed nursing home “will not have a significant impact on the (badger) sett structure”.
The Badger Conservation Plan also recommends that no works be carried out in the 30-metre badger sett protection zone between December and June.
The conservation plan further states that the proposed nursing home plan was modified to move construction activities away from the badger sett and the entire southern area of the site.
However, the Kennys disagree with the conclusions of the Badger Conservation Plan and instead claim in their objection that “what is proposed by the applicants as mitigation (of the badger sett) will result in extermination”.
They point out that badgers are a protected species and state: “Given that there are no mitigation measures that can protect this sett, we ask that the proposal be turned down on the specific grounds of the Wildlife Protection measures enshrined in law and in the Bern Convention to which Ireland is a signatory.”
The Kennys claim that the excavation for the nursing home building at the southern end of the site would destroy the sett “and with it, the badger family”.
The Kennys state: “For the record, the badgers bred successfully this year."
As part of their objection concerning the badgers the Kennys state that they are in the fortunate and unique position of having an active breeding badger sett “within the grounds of our home”.
They state that the badgers have been there for in excess of 20 years.
The Kennys reveal: “During this time, we have let them be and kept an eye on them. We have been rewarded over the years with the sight of young badger cubs playing.
The Kennys state that any destruction of the badger sett would be "cruel and unconscionable.”
In the fresh objection, the Kennys state that the application makes repeated reference to the creation of an ‘artificial sett’.
The Kennys state that there are “rarely, if ever, successful”.
The Kennys explain: “The technique requires the existing sett to be blocked off and the badgers, unable to return to their home, are lured by bait to the newly build artificial sett”.
They state: “In this case, closing off the sett entrance would require entrance to our property, which in any circumstance, we are not prepared to permit.” The Kennys state that such a practice in creating an artificial sett “to be cruel, un-necessary and in contravention of the Wildlife Act 1976”.
The Kennys state that such artificial setts are intended only to be used in projects of national significance where there is no other recourse.
In the new objection, the Kennys state that if permitted, the proposed nursing home would detrimentally impact on their home "and other residential properties in the area”.
The Kennys state: “It would also set a precedent that could ultimately damage the character of the Bulloch Harbour area.”
In the documents lodged on behalf of Bartra by Thornton O’Connor Town Planning, Patricia Thornton states that unlike the permitted Bartra apartment scheme for the site, there is no development in the southern portion of the site and this significantly reduces the impact of the property on the surrounding dwellings at the southern end of the site.
Ms Thornton further states that the nursing home scheme has been sensitively designed to minimise the potential impact on the residential amenity of surrounding properties.
As part of her extensive planning report lodged with the application, Ms Thornton contends that what is proposed represents a significant investment in an under-utilised infill site providing “a much needed nursing home facility for the area”.
Ms Thornton states that the principal objective of the application is to contribute towards reducing the shortage of residential care home beds.
Ms Thornton argues that as a result of its contemporary, sensitive design, the scheme is an appropriately scaled form in its receiving environment” and importantly will respect the surrounding context, including nearly dwellings.
A decision is due on the application next month.