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Dursey Island Case shows draconian targeting of environmental defenders a serious mistake

category national | worker & community struggles and protests | press release author Tuesday December 06, 2022 22:54author by foie - Friends of the Irish Environment Report this post to the editors

PRESS RELEASE FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT MONDAY 5 DECEMBER 2022

Judicial Review demonstrates need for access to Courts
Dursey Island Case shows draconian targeting of environmental defenders a serious mistake

The High Court today approved a final Court Order quashing permission for the €10m Dursey Island mass tourism project. The Judicial Review, taken by Friends of the Irish Environment, was conceded by the Council on 23 September, 2022, stating that ‘it does not intend to pursue the proposed development at issue in the proceedings’. 

The development at the end of the Beara peninsula in west Cork included a two-car desynchronised reversible cable car system capable of carrying 650 people an hour, an extensive glass-fronted visitor centre with a gift shop and 84-person cafe with parking for 100 cars and buses. 10 compulsory purchases orders of land for passing bays along the 6km access road have also now been abandoned by the local authority.

A letter from the Board’s legal representatives, Fieldfisher, told FIE’s legal representatives that ‘The Board will not oppose the Applicant's claim for certiorari quashing the Board's decision on the basis that the Board failed to provide adequate reasons for its decision’. 

According to FIE’s submissions, the Board’s Inspector twice demonstrated that the calculations used to show the impact of tourism on the islands’ protected choughs ‘cannot be accurate’. ‘The visitor number arrived at as being acceptable is not based on a reliable methodology’ and ‘was not scientifically or mathematically sound’ he wrote in his Reports. The recommendation was overruled in a Board Direction signed by Dave Walsh.

Friends of the Irish Environment, An Taisce and Birdwatch Ireland all appealed against the grant of permission by Cork County Council in 2019. The groups called the proposal “Undesirable on multiple grounds", citing the “ecological sensitivity of Dursey”, “the absence of any Management Plans for the protected site, as well as the narrow stretch of road linking it to national network” making it “unsuitable for a proposal of this scale.”

The 6-person cable car, opened in 1969, has been closed for the summer for the €1.2m replacement of the existing system which was required for safety reasons. It’s reopening has recently been delayed until January 2023. 

FIE Director Tony Lowes, whose organisation’s offices are nearby on the Beara peninsula, said that ‘the case illustrates why it is critical to allow Judicial Reviews to correct errors that are inevitably going to happen. What is required are 16 more judges and a better resourced An Bord Pleanála, not the draconian silencing of environmental defenders proposed by the Government.’

FIE was represented by O’Connell Clarke, Solicitors.




Contact: Tony Lowes, 353(0) 87 2176316 / 353 (0)27 74771
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