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File photo of St Anne's Park in Dublin. Sam Boal
Dublin City Council

Concerns over Brent geese halt contentious 580 apartment scheme near St Anne's Park

Planning permission was refused on the sole grounds concerning the Brent Goose, which usually migrates here for the winter months.

CONCERNS OVER THE Light Bellied Brent Goose have put paid to contentious plans for 580 apartments planned for a site near St Anne’s Park in Raheny in north Dublin.

This follows Dublin City Council refusing planning permission to the Marlet Group for its ambitious apartment plan that also includes a 100 bed nursing home for a 16.5 acre site on lands to the east of St Paul’s College at Sybil Hill, Raheny, Dublin 5.

The Council refused planning permission today on the sole grounds concerning the Brent Goose which usually migrates here from ‘high Arctic’ Canada for the winter months.

The planning authority has told Patrick Crean’s Marlet Group that the submitted Natura Impact Statement lodged with the planning application “has not demonstrated that the evidence provided supports the assertion that no impact arises to the Dublin Bay populations of protected Brent geese” from the proposed development.

The Council refusal states that “any assessment of the impacts of the proposed development on the site integrity of the Natura 2000 sites in Dublin Bay under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives cannot be made in the absence of data and the precautionary principle applies”.

As a result the Council state that the proposed development therefore materially contravene a policy of the Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022 for the protection of European sites, and hence would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

The refusal follows a Government department, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage telling the council that Dublin Bay is the most important site for the Light Bellied Brent Goose in Ireland.

The council’s planner’s report concluded that the design and layout of the scheme demonstrates that the proposed development will provide a high quality residential scheme with a height, mass and scale which will sit comfortably within its surroundings.

However, the report stated that there are “significant outstanding biodiversity issues” in its own Parks and Biodiversity report and in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage report.

The planner’s report stated that the the scale of studies required across the existing Brent Geese feeding grounds and potentially across a number of winter seasons would be beyond the remit of a request for further information and therefore permission be refused.

The refusal follows the City Council receiving more than 230 objections against the proposal.

The refusal follows the High Court last year overturning a planning permission for 657 dwellings on the site.

The ‘Large Scale Residential Development’ (LRD)’ scheme by Marlet subsidiary, Raheny 3 Ltd Partnership comprises seven apartment blocks from four to seven storeys in height.

The new 580 unit apartment scheme is made up of 272 one bed units, 15 two bed three-person units, 233 two bed four person units and 60 three bed units.

Planning documents lodged with the application stated that the proposal is consistent with the Government’s new Housing for All plan and will provide 580 new, high quality homes on former institutional lands “which are ideally placed to accommodate residential development lands zoned for residential development in line with the specific zoning requirement”.

Some of those to lodge objections included Dublin TDs, Sean Haughey (FF) and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (Lab).

In his objection, Deputy Haughey told the city council that he is “strongly opposed” to the scheme.

Deputy Haughey stated “losing these playing fields to a large scale residential development will result in a serious loss of recreational amenity space”.

The Dublin Bay North deputy also highlights biodiversity concerns in relation to the scheme stating that “of particular concern is the impact this proposed development will have on the Light Bellied Brent Goose”.

He says: “They are protected birds and the development will certainly impact on them. The long term loss of this feeding ground is a major consideration and not enough is known at this stage as to the consequence of such a loss”.

In his objection, Deputy Ó Ríordáin told the Council that “this is the latest in a series of planning applications made in respect of these lands going back to 2015”.

The deputy said: “The fact that no application has been successful to this point should inform the Council when making its decision.”

Deputy Ó Ríordáin and other Labour Court members stated: “Respect the court’s ruling. That is all we ask.”

The matter now looks set to be decided by An Bord Pleanala as Marlet now has the option of lodging an appeal against the council decision.

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