My submission to the draft Waste Management Plan for the Southern Region

Regional Waste Co-ordinator,
Southern Region Waste Management Office,
Limerick City & County Council,
Lissanalta House,
Co. Limerick.

29th January, 2015.


RE:  Draft Waste Management Plan for the Southern Region


Dear Sir/Madam,

Although I am a public representative, I am also an environmental engineer.  I assessed my first waste management plan in the early 1990s.  I completed my Master’s thesis on the potential for centralised biogas in Ireland in 1996.  My subsequent professional career majored in the sustainable management of wastes of all types and in particular the management of sludges and slurries.

I read the draft Waste Management Plan for the Southern Region with anticipation that it would pave the way for the concepts we espoused twenty years ago but which, largely because of organisational deficiencies, undeveloped markets and government indifference, had never taken off the ground.  I am, however, bitterly disappointed.

In those twenty years, kerbside collection has been privatised and enhanced, recycling rates have risen significantly and waste to landfill has reduced.  Those advances are to be welcomed but they were solely in response to European requirements for Ireland’s handling of society’s by-products which was dramatically behind the curve.

None of the principles introduced in the draft Waste Management Plan for the Southern Region is new.  The concept of waste being a resource is age-old.  The circular economy is a long-held dream, one unlikely to see reality in a capitalist society set up for short-term financial reward.  In this Plan, I see primarily a governmental drive towards the introduction of domestic privately-run incineration as a fail-safe measure at all costs, whilst dismissing the vast millions invested by the State into the development of engineered landfill sites which will now never be operated.

I want to see Irish waste management move on.  I want to see a radical shift in our patterns of resource consumption.  I want to see commitment to a zero waste society and clearly defined targets as to how resource consumption will be decoupled from economic growth.  Prevention of waste is at the top of the waste hierarchy.  One of the principal policies in the Plan relates to prevention.  But yet the Plan has a general acceptance that waste per capita will increase significantly to 2030.  What sort of commitment to waste prevention is this?  Would the Plan’s policy towards domestic incineration be achieved if the consented capacity in engineered landfill sites were all made available without imposition of a landfill levy?  Of course it would not!  And similarly, no real policies towards decoupling waste generation from economic growth will be successful if there is tacit assumption that waste generation rates will continue to increase in an environment with generous domestic incinerator capacity.

The circular economy concept will never become a reality in isolation from the zero waste concept.  This is singularly absent from the draft Waste Management Plan for the Southern Region.  This is, of course, because it is absent from government policy.  Eliminating waste calls for intimate involvement with industry and government.  Industry has control over product and packaging design, manufacturing and materials.  Government has the ability to assist industry to make those necessary changes, either with legislation or with grant support.  Government can make real changes in the way we handle waste which will genuinely see materials return to the source from whence they came.  But both industry and government are singularly absent from the draft Waste Management Plan for the Southern Region.



  • The draft Waste Management Plan has a stated acceptance that economic recovery will lead to an increase in waste generation.  This is not acceptable, nor does it have to be the case.  This is planning to fail.  Other countries have planned to succeed by committing to a zero waste approach.  I ask that a zero waste approach be committed to within the Waste Management Plan for the Southern Region.
  • It is essential that future strategic targets are measurable and I welcome this comment in the Plan.  However, I do not agree that the strategic targets should focus on broader waste streams.  For a comprehensive understanding of waste generation and destination, we need to analyse the waste stream in the greatest detail possible.
  • There is an inherent contradiction in that whilst the Plan commits to having targets measurable, it also has a stated intention to measure the municipal stream rather than the household waste stream.  Yet one of the principal waste reduction targets of the draft Plan relates to household waste which the Plan intends not to measure.  I ask that all targets towards waste reduction are measurable and therefore that the household and commercial waste streams will be analysed separately, rather than as a commingled municipal stream.
  • The focus on resource consumption is good but it is not followed through in the Plan with an adequate focus on a shift in attitude or practice.
  • It is good that any sort of a target towards waste prevention is being proffered, but the target of 1% reduction per annum in household waste generated is too low.  Over 30% of household waste is biodegradable.  The EPA advises us that at least 60% of this is avoidable.  Were we to eliminate even 30% of biodegradable household waste, we would be achieving a reduction target greater than that espoused in the Plan.  I ask for the adoption of a target of 10% reduction in household waste generated over the lifetime of the Plan.
  • With respect, Policy B1 is a nonsense.  Local authorities cannot provide resources that they do not have.  Even if they wanted to take additional staff on board to assist communities in prevention activities, they cannot.  The government embargo on public service appointments means that they would struggle to replace an Environment Education Officer, let alone employ additional staff.  Only central government can ensure that Policy B1 happens.  To pretend otherwise is simply to set the local authorities up to fail.  It is of course appropriate that they would give whatever they can to waste prevention, but real and effective waste prevention measures can only come with both policy and financial commitment from central government.
  • The discussion on stakeholders does not mention reducing waste at source by changing industrial practices.  Why are consumers always asked to buy products with less packaging when often they have no choice?  Options for consumers need to be tackled through the producer.  I ask that the Regional Waste Management Plan would demonstrate a real commitment to waste prevention by introducing real and targeted measures towards working with the EPA and industry to, at a minimum, change product presentation at source.
  • I ask that the Regional Waste Management Plan would, as a policy target, work with government to introduce a tax on disposable products such as polystyrene and plastic drinks cups, paper and plastic plates, plastic cutlery, etc.  Products such as these have reusable alternatives.  In this regard, it would be an appropriate juncture for all ten local authorities contributing to the Southern Region’s Plan to commit to eliminating the use of such disposable commodities within local authority buildings.



  • Other countries have established what they describe as “goods rehoming facilities” at civic amenity sites.  These remove goods from the recycling and residual waste streams that are of reasonable quality and may be desired for reuse by others.  They are cleaned and are displayed in a covered area.  In some cases, a small charge is placed on recovered goods.  In others, the goods are available free of charge.  Some civic amenity sites add value to the recovered goods so that they are of higher worth.  I ask that the Regional Waste Management Plan would commit to piloting goods rehoming facilities at a number of the busier civic amenity sites.  It is essential that the goods are available for perusal whenever the civic amenity site is open so that it can essentially become viewed as the equivalent of a second-hand shop.  Such an initiative would help to achieve the Plan’s stated aim of adding value to the waste stream and, if successful, could contribute in a small way towards the operational cost of the civic amenity sites.



  • The Plan is very clear that the residual waste exported for treatment is a wasted resource.  But it does not mention at all the recyclable waste exported for reprocessing because of the complete lack of facilities to deal with it in Ireland.  This is a far greater loss of resource which is not even quantified in the Plan.  I ask that the Regional Waste Management Plan would identify and quantify the individual recyclable streams that are going abroad for reprocessing, that it would identify the countries these recyclable streams are destined for and that it would quantify the lost resources that these material streams represent.
  • We know how successful our kerbside collection of recyclables is because the volume of material collected is measurable.  However, we have no idea how the kerbside collection is performing in terms of material quality.  Are the correct materials being put into the recycling bin?  Is there contamination of materials?  Are there materials being separated for recycling for which there is currently no market?  I would like to see quality of collected recyclables being discussed in the Plan.  It may be that it is necessary to introduce a system of source separation to improve the quality of material collected.  I ask that the Waste Management Plan for the Southern Region would discuss the quality of recyclable material gathered by kerbside collection and that it would identify the volume of recyclable material collected but lost to residual waste because of contamination.  If this information is not available, it should be and its collation should therefore be a policy target of the Regional Waste Management Plan.
  • Home composting is not mentioned in the Plan.  In the past, home composting was a recommendation of many waste management plans and there are still a considerable number of households in the Region operating their own composting unit.  I ask that the Regional Waste Management Plan would commit to supporting home composting and that it would discuss how those who are currently practising this sustainable system of domestic waste management will continue to be supported in the context of widespread introduction of SI No. 71 of 2013 affecting food waste collection.
  • I ask that the Regional Waste Management Plans would commit to the introduction of deposit-refund schemes for, in particular, aluminium cans and plastic drinks bottles.  This is packaging which regularly litters our streets because the products it contains are generally bought in one-off purchases.  Reducing litter cleans up our environment and frees up local authority resources towards other prevention targets.  In addition, a deposit-refund scheme for targeted materials such as aluminium and PET has been proven in other countries to massively increase their recapture for recycling.
  • Targets towards anaerobic digestion are welcomed but there is no real sense of enthusiasm in the Plan for biological waste treatment equivalent to that for incineration with energy recovery.  Biological waste treatment in the form of centralised biogas and in-vessel composting is well advanced in other countries.  Despite many on-the-ground attempts by private operators and enthusiasts, it has never taken off in Ireland.  The Plan gives a strong acknowledgement of the need for energy support pricing to make incineration viable and profitable.  Why does it not give the same support to the pricing of energy from centralised biogas?  In the case of centralised biogas, it may be more efficient to use gas directly rather than to use it for electricity generation.  But this would also be a renewable product, equally deserving of support and as yet unacknowledged in Ireland.  I ask that the Regional Waste Management Plan would have a stated policy of working with government towards obtaining realistic financial supports for the energy products of anaerobic digestion/centralised biogas and that these financial supports would be commensurate with the elevated position of biological treatment on the waste hierarchy.
  • The Plan makes no mention of the on-the-ground problems which have continually stymied large scale biological waste treatment in this country.  In particular, it does not address the issue of markets for compost or digestate.  Without addressing such issues as these, biological treatment of either biowaste or agriwaste will struggle to advance.  It is imperative that the Plan would identify and address all the issues which to date have impeded the successful take-off of large scale biological waste treatment in Ireland.
  • I ask that the Plan would prioritise the implementation of SI 71 of 2013 on household food waste and biowaste and that it would include stated policy to investigate the use of surplus edible foods currently discarded as waste.



  • The clear ethos of national policy for waste management – as reflected in this draft Waste Management Plan for the Southern Region – is to provide adequate domestic capacity for incineration to replace landfill.  The implementation section of the Plan places more strategic focus on this than on any other aspect of our future intentions for waste management.  Moreover, the implementation section of the draft Plan addresses incineration with energy recovery as a policy measure even before it states policies for recycling, biological treatment and other aspects of waste management far further up the waste hierarchy.  To prioritise the development of incineration recovery infrastructure before the development of infrastructure to facilitate actions further up the waste hierarchy lays out a retrograde and unsustainable future for waste management in Ireland.
  • The draft Plan spends considerable energy in describing potential future uncertainty in incineration capacity in the EU markets.  This may indeed be the case for the future, although it is currently not.  It may equally be the case with future foreign capacity to accept Ireland’s sorted recyclable materials also, but the draft Plan does not develop this potential issue.  The waste projections and subsequent argument contained in the draft Plan for an additional national capacity of 300,000 tonnes in incineration with energy recovery is not convincing.  The waste projections are made in the absence of a genuine all-society change of mindset towards a circular economy.  There will be no real achievements in waste reduction should the draft Plan’s stated targets towards incineration be achieved.
  • If Ireland is to reach its EU obligations to recycling 50% of municipal waste by 2020 and 70% by 2030, it will be relying on an increase in waste generation to ensure it can maintain a residual waste stream to ensure a continued supply of feedstock to fill domestic incineration capacity.  Ireland will therefore be relying on continued generation of residual waste; this is a position utterly at odds with the circular economy, commitments towards waste prevention and the EU’s waste hierarchy.
  • Incineration with energy recovery can operate efficiently only when the feedstock has a relatively high calorific value.  This can be achieved only with a relatively high proportion of plastics and other potentially recyclable materials in the waste stream.  There is little incentive for the public to commit to sustainable waste management if they learn that their carefully sorted dry recyclables are being burned rather than replacing a global demand for virgin materials.  I ask that the Regional Waste Management Plan would commit to ensuring that all separated recyclables would be sent for recycling rather than for incineration either with or without energy recovery.
  • Adequate capacity for recovery through incineration with energy recovery already exists in the Meath and Dublin plants.  I ask that the Regional Waste Management Plan would commit to the provision of no further capacity for incineration with energy recovery until firstly, real waste prevention targets are achieved and, secondly, infrastructure to facilitate management of waste further up the waste hierarchy is already in place.
  • I ask that the Regional Waste Management Plan would commit to a tax on incineration, with or without energy recovery.  This tax would reflect the position of incineration with or without energy recovery at the lower echelons of the waste hierarchy.  The amount of the tax can be reduced to reflect the energy recovery efficiency of the plant to which the waste is sent.  All waste destined for incineration should be taxed, regardless of whether the incineration plant is in Ireland or abroad.
  • Policies E15 and E16 are clearly lifted out of the Connaught-Ulster Regional Waste Management Plan; the consultants forgot to change the reference to the CUR.  It is clear that it is a national plan to introduce incineration to Ireland and that these two policies have been inserted into all of the Regional Waste Management Plans.  This is an uninspired and unsustainable approach to replacing Ireland’s traditional reliance on landfill.


Local authority as stakeholders

  • Clearly the ten local authorities are expected to drive this Waste Management Plan for the Southern Region forward on the ground.  Equally clearly, responsibility for any failure in this regard will be assigned to them.
  • This is largely unjust.  Local authorities are hamstrung without increased resources.  As an example, Cork County Council has constructed 11 state of the art civic amenity sites around the county.  Several years ago, the County Council could not sustain their running and introduced increased gate fees including the imposition of a charge on recycling.  This correlated with an increase in dumping.   It is now so expensive to dump a mattress at a civic amenity site in County Cork that it is little wonder so many are found in ditches and inside farm gates.  Consequently a significant percentage of Cork County Council’s annual environmental is spent on street cleaning.  This year, despite the gate fees, Cork County Council finds it still cannot sustain the cost of running the civic amenity sites and is now reducing opening hours for those in more rural areas.  These are the very areas which are frequently not served by kerbside collectors.  This reduction in availability of civic amenity sites will of course further increase the dumping problem.  Again, the amount of clean-up the County Council can do is limited.  South Cork, with a population of over 211,000, has but one litter warden.  Courtesy of the government’s ongoing recruitment embargo, no further appointments can be made.  The government must commit to delivering policy, practicality and finance in supporting the waste management activities of local authorities.  In this regard, the government is as large a stakeholder in this Waste Management Plan as are the local authorities.
  • The Plan’s aim towards improved communication between the local authorities is welcome, particularly with regard to co-ordinating resources, information and the establishment of facilities.
  • The Plan’s aim for local authorities to provide improved guidance on siting waste management facilities is also welcome.  This is ideally achieved through the County Development Plan.  Cork County Council most recently attempted to do this in the drafting of its County Development Plan 2014 when it directed large waste management facilities to Strategic Employment Areas.  The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government took exception to this, saying that Cork County Council was creating an unfair bias against incineration.  He issued a Section 31 Direction to revoke the relevant section of the County Development Plan and to replace it with his own wording which singled out incineration for favour.  The Minister clearly failed to understand the intent of the objectives of the County Development Plan and attempted to undermine Cork County Council’s attempt to provide improved guidance on siting.  Education of the Minister is imperative if this aim of the Regional Waste Management Plan is to be achieved.
  • The Plan suggests that local authorities should address the growing trend to export residual waste?  Permitted or registered waste facilities are obliged to identify the destination of wastes they handle but it is not within the power of the local authority to instruct where those residual wastes should go.  The transfrontier shipment office ensures that the export of waste is responsible and documented.  Deciding whether waste should or should not go abroad is a commercial decision that could potentially affect the viability of the operator and is well outside the remit of local authorities.


The Southern Region’s solid waste stream arises largely from household, commercial, industrial and agricultural sources.  Yet this draft Plan sets targets only for household and municipal waste.  Where are the quantifications and targets for wastes from other sources?  I asked Ms Phillipa King in the Council Chamber whether wastes from industrial sources were addressed in the draft Plan.  I was advised that they were not, because industrial wastes were largely looked after by the EPA.

If there is no co-ordination between the SRWMO and the EPA on industrial waste arisings, their trends and management then the SRWMO and the EPA are replicating the type of individualistic behavior exhibited by local authorities with regard to waste planning over the past decades.  Industrial waste is a significant proportion of the Region’s overall waste stream and it is imperative that it would be addressed in this Waste Management Plan.

Of course solid wastes are only a diminutive percentage of overall waste arisings in the Region.  Sludge waste arisings from wastewater treatment and agricultural slurries are mentioned in the Plan but are clearly not its focus.  But this document describes itself as being a Waste Management Plan.  It is not a Solid Waste Management Plan, nor a Municipal Solid Waste Management Plan.  If it is what its title claims, then it must address all waste arisings in the Region with equal intent: their quantification, current management methodologies and it must develop policies for their responsible handling and, where necessary, treatment.

As this Plan is clearly driven from central government and its higher echelon appointees, I do not expect my comments to be given more than cursory attention.  However, I should be grateful if even some were taken on board.

Yours faithfully,
Marcia D’Alton. 

My submission to the Section 31 Draft Direction on the Cork County Development Plan 2014

The Senior Planner,
Planning Policy Unit,
Cork County Council,
Floor 13,
County Hall,

27th January, 2014.

RE:  Cork County Development Plan 2014, Section 31 Draft Direction

Dear Sir/Madam,

The Minister for Housing, Planning and Co-Ordination of Construction 2020 has issued notice of his intent to instruct Cork County Council to amend Objective ZU 3-7 of the County Development Plan 2014.  He has outlined the text of the Objective which is to be deleted and dictated the alternative text which is to be inserted in its stead.

I am dismayed by the Minister’s proposed action.  The content of his communication of 22nd December 2014 to Cork County Council is indicative to me of an undermining of the local Development Plan process, a deliberate attempt to impede local democracy and a failure to understand both European and national waste policy.


Section 31 Draft Direction is in contravention of:

  • Article 11(2) and Article 12 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000
  • Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention

Chapter I of the Planning and Development Act 2000 sets out the requirement of every local authority to make a Development Plan.  The legislative requirements were further clarified by guidelines published by the then Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government under Section 28 of the Act.

These guidelines emphasise how the Development Plan is intended to provide the strategic framework and policy context for the sustainable development of land in the interests of the common good.

Public consultation and local involvement is a critical element in deciding how this strategic framework can reflect those interests.  Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention provides for public participation in plan and policy making.  Ireland is a signatory to the Aarhus Convention since 2012.  The requirement of the Aarhus Convention in this regard is reflected in Article 11(2) of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

This statutory requirement has been responded to fully in the making of the Cork County Development Plan 2014.  In its draft form, the Plan went through three rounds of public consultation over a period of two years.  All views of interested parties were analysed, evaluated, balanced and, where possible, taken on board.

The Section 28 guidelines are utterly clear in clarifying the role of elected members in the making of a County Development Plan:

Members must have an active and driving role in the entire process, from its inception to its finalisation. They must listen to and take account of the views and wishes of the communities they represent.”

They further emphasise that this involvement of the public and the elected members is critical for the Plan’s effective implementation.  The UN’s Implementation Guide on the Aarhus Convention similarly acknowledges that public involvement in the making of any plan is key to that plan’s success:

All good public authorities take advantage of the interest and the energy of the public. As decisions become increasingly complex, this factor becomes less a matter of good practice and more a matter of urgency.”

Any decision relating to the siting of a large waste management facility is a complex one.  Cork County Council has, in consultation with the public and elected members and as expressed in its County Development Plan, given guidance on where such large waste management facilities should and should not be sited.  The Minister’s Draft Direction proposes to dismiss the two years of public involvement which has culminated in that guidance.  Therefore the Draft Direction is entirely in contravention of both Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention and Articles 11 and 12 of the Planning and Development Act 2000.


Section 31 Draft Direction is unnecessary:  County Development Plan 2014 is not in contravention of national waste policy

The Minister claims that the Draft Direction is necessary because Objective ZU 3-7 of the County Development Plan 2014 by prohibiting incineration through energy recovery is in contravention of national waste policy.  I believe the Minister to be entirely incorrect.

The purpose of Objective ZU 3-7 is not to restrict any kind of waste management type but to advise on where it should be sited.  Objective ZU 3-7 (b) advises that industrial areas zoned for small to medium sized industry, warehousing or distribution can generally be considered for the siting of waste management facilities.  But it qualifies that these areas are not considered suitable for either contract incineration or landfill.  On the other hand, Objective ZU 3-7 (c) clarifies that all large scale waste management facilities may be considered for siting in Strategic Employment Areas.  Note that there are five such areas in Cork.

That this is not any attempt to slight incineration whether with or without energy recovery is clear from many other references within the County Development Plan.  Firstly, Objective ZU 3-7 (c) is consistent with Paragraph 6.4.11 which states that:

the provision of strategic large scale waste treatment facilities will be considered in ‘Industrial Areas’ designated as Strategic Employment Areas in the local area plans …”

and with Paragraph 11.7.4 which again repeats:

It should be noted that the provision of strategic large scale waste treatment facilities will be considered in ‘Industrial Areas’ designated as Strategic Employment Areas.”

Secondly, Paragraph 6.4.12 identifies the Bottlehill Landfill Facility as offering particular potential for a “specialised role in the area of integrated waste management and waste to energy”.  In other words, waste to energy is identified and welcomed to a site that may be considered suitable.

Thirdly, Objective ED 4-3 provides explicit support for the development of bioenergy within County Cork during the lifetime of the Plan.  The term bioenergy embraces waste to energy within the R1 category.

National waste policy is as outlined in the government’s 2012 policy document, A Resource Opportunity.  Quite contrary to the Minister’s claim, the County Development Plan 2014 in fact provides clear support for this policy.  Paragraph 11.7.1 specifically identifies the policy, clarifies its intent and observing that the policy will be delivered through “mandatory regional waste management plans”.

Then Objective WS 7-1 has as an explicit aim to:

Support the policy measures and actions outlined in ‘A Resource Opportunity’ 2012 – National Waste Policy”.

It is difficult to see how such stated support could be regarded as a contravention.

The draft Regional Waste Management Plan for the Southern Region also recognises that the siting of waste facilities is critical to ensuring that their impact can be minimised, managed and mitigated.  It includes broad siting criteria but advises that they provide only minimum guidance.  This is a clear suggestion that greater guidance may be provided at local level if it is regarded as appropriate.

The Section 28 Development Plan Guidelines advise that while development plans should take relevant national and regional policies on board, this should also work in reverse: good development plans should inform policies at regional and national level.  In my opinion, that qualifies the Cork County Development Plan 2014 as being a good development plan.  It has taken national and regional waste policy on board, acknowledged its support for both and identified broad county-level policies for guidance on siting waste management facilities.  Even whilst identifying these county-level policies on siting, Objective ZU 3-7 (c)  defers to the requirements of national policy and future Regional Waste Management Plans.

Frankly, for the Minister to claim that ZU 3-7 as drafted runs counter to government policy is quite extraordinary in the context of the above.  His suggestion that it prohibits energy recovery through incineration is totally misplaced and indicates that he has not read the many other constructive references to waste to energy within the Plan.  Furthermore, it intimates that the Minister is not clear in his understanding of the function of a development plan, i.e. the adoption of national and regional policy into county policy and its adaptation into a strategic framework for sustainable land use within the county as desired and agreed by the people of the county.


Section 31 Draft Direction is itself in contravention of national waste policy

National waste policy as outlined in A Resource Opportunity is clear: recovery is fourth in priority in the waste hierarchy.  A Resource Opportunity helpfully defines recovery as being:

any operation the principal result of which is waste serving a useful purpose by replacing other materials which would otherwise have been used to fulfil a particular function …”.

The key phrase here is any operation.

There are many, many technologies capable of being considered as “large scale waste treatment facilities”.  Centralised biogas is a direct aim of the draft Regional Waste Management Plan for the Southern Region.  In-vessel composting is used successfully all over the world.  Both are classified within the recycling category in the waste hierarchy and are therefore regarded more favourably than recovery.  What about pyrolysis which produces oil, gas and carbon?

ZU 3-7 (c) as currently drafted indicates that all large-scale waste management facilities, regardless of type, may be considered within Strategic Employment Areas.  It therefore accurately reflects the gamut of waste treatment types referred to in A Resource Opportunity, whether from the recovery category or any category further up the waste hierarchy.

It is extraordinary that the Minister, whilst advising against “determination in favour of or against any particular process or technology”, proposes to instruct that ZU 3-7 (c) must be amended to specifically mention waste to energy recovery facilities.  This directly contravenes his own instruction in relation to “infrastructural diversification” deploying a “variety of technologies” across a “network of facilities”.

Furthermore, whilst he chides Cork County Council for what he perceives to be its failure to comply with the waste hierarchy by restricting incineration, he then proposes to instruct that ZU 3-7 should be amended such that it would favourably single out incineration with energy recovery over so many other technologies further up the waste hierarchy.

Whilst I can see no evidence whatsoever that the County Development Plan 2014 is in contravention of the waste hierarchy as adopted by national waste policy, I can see clearly that the Minister’s Draft Direction is anti-competitive and unsustainable in its content and not reflective of either EU or national waste policy.


Public consultation procedure associated with the Section 31 Draft Direction is in contravention of Aarhus Convention

Why did the Minister invite public comment on this Draft Direction?

Was it simply to comply with the requirements of Section 31 (6)?

The measures proposed under the Draft Direction as outlined by the Minister in his communication of 22nd December 2014 clearly state that the County Development Plan is to be amended as set out in the Draft Direction.  If the Minister is intent on amending the Cork County Development Plan 2014, what possibly can be the purpose of this public consultation other than to give lip service to a legislative requirement?

The UN’s Implementation Guide on the Aarhus Convention advises that, at a minimum, public participation requires effective notice, adequate information, proper procedures and appropriate taking account of the outcome of public participation.  The public consultation on this Draft Direction fails in all these respects.  It allows a woefully inadequate response time of two weeks.  It has been published in language which is well beyond the understanding of the public generally.  One frustrated comment on a local publication’s Facebook page read: “Can anyone explain this in further detail and in plain English”.  And at the outset, before the public consultation is even open, the Minister has made it quite clear that the opinion of the public is irrelevant anyway; the provisions of the Draft Direction will come into effect when the Section 31 procedure has been completed.

This is not public participation.  Again, UN guidance on the Aarhus Convention explains that public participation requires more than simply following a set of procedures.  It involves “public authorities genuinely listening to the public and being open to the possibility of being influenced by it … the public input should be capable of having a tangible influence on the actual content of the decision”.

This Section 31 procedure is in clear contravention of the requirements of Aarhus and derogatory of the opinions of the public.



I respectfully request that the Chief Executive would reflect my abject rejection of the Minister’s proposed Draft Direction to the Cork County Development Plan 2014 and my genuine horror at his failure to understand the purpose of the specific objectives of the County Development Plan, his evidenced failure to read the County Development Plan in entirety, his consequent proposal to force the introduction of text which would introduce inconsistencies in the Plan, his instruction to favour a recovery technology over a technology further up the waste hierarchy, his consequent proposed direction to contravene national waste policy, his utter disregard for public consultation as required by the Aarhus Convention, his clear demonstration of lack of faith in both the executive and elected members of Cork County Council and his consequent attempted undermining of the development plan process through which the executive, elected members and public have collaborated and co-operated over the past two years.

Local government, local strategic planning and waste management in Ireland deserve better than this.


Yours faithfully,

Marcia D’Alton.

Notes from a full meeting of Cork County Council, 26th Jan 2015

Cllr R McCarthy and Cllr K McCarthy asked for suspension of Standing Orders because of:

1)     the delay in the Bandon sewerage scheme
2)     Irish Water as a company not looking after the water and sewerage needs of the people of Cobh.

respectively.  It was agreed that Standing Orders would be suspended at 1pm.


1.  Minutes of Meeting of the Council held on 12th January, 2015.

Proposed and seconded.


[b]           VOTES OF SYMPATHY
2.              Votes of Sympathy (if any) to the relatives of:

(i)             members or employees of the Council,
(ii)           dignitaries of Church or State, or
(iii)          members of old I.R.A. and Cumann na mBan.

There were no votes of sympathy passed.


3.              Presentation on the Abolishment of the Dairy Quota and the Opportunities for Cork – Presentation by Dr. Declan O Connor and Dr. Michael Keane.

This was work which Cork County Council commissioned.  Speakers are from the CIT.  They worked closely with the Executive in preparing the report and in particular with Tom Stritch (roads) .  The study was co-ordinated by James Fogarty (West Cork Manager).

Declan O’Connor gave the presentation.

This will be an important growth area in Cork in the next 5 years.

  • Milk quotas will be eliminated from April 2015.
  • We expect that Cork, which is an ideal place to produce milk, will be able to increase its dairy production substantially.
  • We produce > 1.4 billion litres of milk p.a. in the county, i.e. 25% of the milk produced in the country.
  • Cork has 4,500 highly skilled dairy farmers.  The county has very innovative dairy processes.  We have the likes of Dairygold and Carbery.  Also have leading R&D in Teagasc, UCC, CIT, etc.
  • We expect milk output to increase by 50%.  We expect dairy cows to increase from 306,000 to 400,000. (+94,000).
  • Investment commitments to achieve this – +€450m to farming and more to commercial side.
  • If we meet this target, it will create an additional 4,000 jobs with a net benefit to the exechequer of about €100m.
  • Constraints and threats – land scarcity, skilled labour, capital, herd health and fertility, weather, climate change, income, price volatility, EU policy, water quality, environment, GHG emissions.
  • All these constraints are manageable and are addressed in the report.
  • Infrastructural issues feedback from the industry were roads, water, GHG, energy, planning and commmunications (including broadband)
  • Highlighting the roads issue to the councillors.  The targets for extra milk production would mean an extra 1,000 milk lorries on the roads per week.  Also have to consider the implications of getting the dairy commodity back to the port for export.  There will be much more feed and fertiliser used.  Farm to farm transport will change dramatically.  More farmers will rent land away from the milking platform.  So they will be moving silage and slurry.  Contractors are going to be busier.  Everyone from the industry that was spoken to mentioned roads.  Turning areas not adequate for milk tankers, bridges, gullies, verges, blind bends, etc.  The targets for the industry would mean an estimated additional road maintenance cost of at least €4.2m to 2020 and €1.5m p.a. thereafter.  (Cost calculated by CIT.)
  • Each litre of milk requires 6 litres of water to produce.  Many farms have their own water but they also need a backup because water is so important.  Therefore water supply is crucial.
  • To consolidate this opportunity, we need everyone to roll in the same direction.  But we have to be aware of the infrastructural restrictions because these are real threats.  Have to help farmers through the nitrates legislation.
  • The prize would be Cork as a world dairy hub in 2020.

Cllr PG Murphy (FF):  If we haven’t quantiifed the restrictions and barriers we would not be in a position to seek support from national and local sources.  This was expressed as a concern in the Western Division.  Constraints need to be tackled one by one.

Cllr O’Flynn (FF):  Very exciting report and times for the dairy industry.  Road network is clearly our biggest constraint.  Mitchelstown to Mallow road at the moment can’t allow two lorries to pass at present.  Also Mallow badly needs a ring road.  Future development of Munster depends on the infrastructure around Mallow.  We will have to go to the Minister to ensure our road network is brought up to scratch.  Broadband also hugely important.  People coming to Mallow, Mitchelstown and Moorepark have nowhere to stay.  They want to live here and get involved in the local community.  But there are no houses available to either buy or rent.  The world is our market.  Hopes Cork County Council will not be found wanting.

Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG):  This is a follow up to a motion which she had at Council last year.  Compliments James Fogarty (divisional manager) on work he has done with the CIT.

Cllr K Murphy (FG):  Fabulous report.

Cllr Hayes (SF):  Report highlights our potential to go back to what we are good at – agriculture.  Highlights infrastructural deficiencies.  Great potential for the area.

Cllr A Moynihan (FF):  Very exciting time.  Cork always had a very strong connection with the dairy industry – butter exports – butter roads.  There is definitely a huge problem at the local road network level.  If there was a butter road network years ago, there is surely a need for a milk road network now.  We need to keep a focus on the need for a local road scheme to support tankers.  It won’t be happening on every local road.  We need to target the Departments – both Environment and Agriculture – for a milk road scheme.

Cllr Carroll (FF):  Thanks for report.  Roads in West Cork simply cannot support this plan, despite the fact that the plan is so welcome.  Roads aren’t fit to take Coillte trucks either.

Cllr N O’Donovan (FG):  Great to have the facts and figures.  Roads are in dire straits and something needs to be done.  Agriculture is the back bone of our economy.  Needs to be up there again.  Community involvement scheme was a major loss to West Cork.

Cllr Harris (Ind):  EU policy as an obstacle was glossed over.  Not confident that this will be easily managed.  What guarantees are there for people investing in this industry that EU policy will not wipe people out?

Cllr G Murphy (FG):  Glad to see this project initiated.  Infrastructural problems are county-wide.  We haven’t had funding for local improvement schemes for many years.  There are isolated farms with capacity to produce a lot of milk which creameries have said they will not serve into the future because of the road condition.  Report is great but it is what we do with this report is most important.  Lay down a timescale with the government for implementing this.  This government attaches huge importance to job creation so this dovetails with their agenda.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  My side of the cow is usually the tail end – my area of expertise was the slurry side of things.  Cows produce slurry and more cows means more slurry.  I have done much nutrient management planning in North Cork and I know that while the land has some nutritional imbalances, these are much easier to address more accurately with inorganic fertiliser.  At the moment, farmers have no option but to get rid of slurry by spreading it on the fields.  The land simply doesn’t have the capacity to absorb more without polluting rivers and other watercourses.  Welcomes the report but would also welcome concurrently researching whether it would be possible to establish a facility to assist farmers in slurry management.  Such a facility might be a centralised biogas plant, maybe drying.  But it is something that needs to be addressed alongside further intensification of the dairy industry.

Cllr T Collins (Ind):  If the contractors can’t get around, it makes things very difficult.  When hedges are meeting, the lorry cannot pass.  A mirror costs €800 to replace.  Now you meet limbs of trees, not hedges.  If a lorry is incapacitated, the milk already collected is left lying there because another lorry will have to come on stream to replace it.  Contractor is a very important person in this.  This report is welcome but there are some areas where roads that were built can’t cope with half the tonnage they are taking now.

Cllr B Moynihan (FF):  Needs to be a local improvement scheme for roads.  To enable all this to happen by 2020, there needs to be investment in the road structure.  People are quite willing to contribute to the council for the local improvement scheme.

Cllr Lombard (FG):  We’re 9 weeks away from the end of the quota period.  Next 18 months there will be 20% increase in milk volume.  Farmers and co-ops have been building to this for years.  Stock, herds and most of the infrastructure is already in place.  Is this report too late?  Should this have been commissioned 3 years ago?

Cllr Barry (FG):  Road issues well flagged.  Environment issues have been touched on.

CE:  We are the only local authority in the country who has done a detailed assessment of this issue.  Time to put this report into the right forum nationally, especially when it highlights the need for investment in certain areas.  Report well researched and robust.  This sector will create massive jobs and the investment required to support that is relatively small.  The issue with water is for Irish Water to deal with, with the County Council being an advocate of the sector.  We will be putting the investment into roads.

Michael Keane (MJKeane Agribusiness Research Services – – 087 2704586):

Councillors have rightly focused on roads as being the weak link in this plan.  There is a huge demand on the road network and it does require additional investment.  Wishes us all success in seeking the funds for that.

Couple of other comments in passing – Declan has a student doing a much bigger study which will be available in September.

Cllr Moynihan mentioned the fact that there are farmers facing superlevy bills.  There are schemes to help these farmers out.

EU policy at Brussels level is a very important point.  There are countries within the EU who have tried to stop the cessation of quotas.  Declan and he did a study on this before (2013) – were in Brussels for it.  Most EU Member States are in favour of quotas going but there are those who are not and this space needs to be watched carefully.

Issue of biogas and slurry very important.  Has taken off as a successful industry in other countries, but not so much here.  Worth investigating and advancing.

GHG – we produce milk outdoors, which has a far lower carbon footprint than producing milk indoors.

Planning – farmers speak of the narrow window of opportunity they have to get everything ready and done.  Want help from CCC where possible.

Massive feeling on the ground amongst farmers on the roads issue.

Declan O’Connor: James and Tom were a year ahead in the commissioning of this report.  They approached CIT last May.  Thanks all the contributors to the report, especially Michael who co-produced it in a 50:50 way, and all those who gave their time across the entire industry. – 087-6151284



4.              Disposal of Property – Section 183 of the Local Government Act, 2001:
Disposal of 14 Spa Terrace, Mallow, Co. Cork.

Cllr Mullane (SF):  Has no issue with this disposal.  The property is in shared ownership.  But the disposal did not come to the Northern Committee.  Just wondering what procedure is.

SOC:  The procedure is in the middle of changing.  Not sure why this one didn’t go to the Municipal District or Divisional Committee.  In some cases, especially in the issue of shared ownership, we’re under pressure to finalise for the client’s solicitor.  Maybe this is why.

5.              Local Government Act 2001 as amended by the Local Government Reform Act 2014 & the Local Government (Audit Committee) Regulations 2014:

Audit Committee Work Programme 2015

“In accordance with Section 9 of the Local Government (Audit Committee) Regulations the Annual Work Programme for 2015 for the Audit Committee is hereby adopted by Cork County Council.”

6.  Section 60 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014:
Report of the Audit Committee on its review of the Local Government Auditor’s Report for 2013.

Taking 5 and 6 together.  Both agreed.


7.  Local Government Act 2001:
Section 85 Agreement with Tipperary County Council – Control of Horses Act, 1996.

Agreed for renewal.


8.  Appointment of Members to the National Monuments Committee:

The Corporate Policy Group has decided that the Committee would have 8 members, 1 from each Municipal District.

Proposals were made from each party grouping for membership.  All were agreed.


9.              Corporate Policy Group:

(i)  Approval of attendance by Council members at Conferences on the Conference List for January, 2015 approved by the Corporate Policy Group at their meeting on the 14th January, 2015.

(ii)  To notify Members of the Municipal District Community Grants Schemes 2015.

Both we agreed. 

Mayor:  The proposal is that Municipal District Officers will advertise these grant schemes as soon as possible.  It is a good opportunity for Municipal District Officers to become visible in their districts.

Cllr R McCarthy (SF):  Is concerned that the grant application forms would be available as soon as possible because many groups require St Patrick’s Day funding.

SOC:  The intention was always to advertise as soon as possible.  Its up to the Municipal Districts to advertise.  The application forms will be on the website on Friday.

Cllr Conway (Ind):  There was tacit approval made at the Blarney-Macroom Municipal District meeting to fund Patrick’s Day either through this process  or otherwise.

Cllr K Murphy (FG):  Thinks it should be clear that no expenditure of any kind should be approved unless accompanied by an application form.

Cllr Conway (Ind):  Cllr Murphy is in the business long enough to know that an application form will be filled out for all funding that might be required.


10.            Ballincollig Carrigaline Municipal District:
“That this Council rejects the Minister’s Notice of Intent to Issue a Direction received by Cork County Council on 22nd December 2014 in relation to Objective ZU3-7 and resolves to uphold the previous decision of Cork County Council as agreed at its meeting of 8th December 2014 in retaining the original agreed wording of the Objective.”

Cllr Desmond (FF):  We discussed this at our Municipal District meeting last week.  We agreed that to comply with the process we have to put forward a proposal again today.  We have already voted on this.  There was cross party support.  Democratically the County Development Plan is one of the main pieces of work that is left to the Council.  So we believe we should take a stand.

Cllr G Murphy (FG):  Point of order – legal situation is that we have no power to overturn.  Is that correct?

Mayor:  We can make a submission up to Wednesday.

Cllr K Murphy (FG):  Asks that CE would make a statement at this stage.

CE:  Has no statement to make.  It is out for public consultation until the 28th of this month.  Reads the draft Direction in relation to consultation.  Members can make a submission if they wish.

Cllr McGrath (FF):  Don’t want to redebate the issue.  Essence of this is the disregard for the democratic decision of the members.  The Minister is exhibiting unnecessary interference in the democratic process.  Public consultation is adding insult to injury.

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF):  Affront to democracy.

Agreed to send a submission to the Minister supporting the Members’ original vote.



11.  Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government:
Letter dated 6th January, 2015, in response to Council’s letter of 26th November, 2014, regarding increasing rent supplement levels and issue of homelessness.

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  About 20% of households in the state are living in the private rental sector.  The rent cap does not reflect reality.  Asks that the allowance would be increased and that there would be a rent cap to freeze the private rental market.  Lists out the disadvantages of a rent freeze that the Department’s letter describes.  But we have all these problems already.  The PRTB did this report.  A Red C poll found that 64% of tenants were aware of their rights.  That is good.  Thinks the education programme is a good idea.  People from 64% that do know their rights are still being made homeless.  Thinks the report is not up to the mark.  Need to write back to the Department telling them what the reality is on the ground.  This crisis is getting worse.


12.            Department of Justice and Equality:
Letter dated 20th January, 2015, in response to Council’s letter of 13th January, 2015, regarding the provision of a juvenile hostel in Cork.

Cllr N Collins (Ind):  Reply from the Department is infuriating.  The letter says we don’t know what we are talking about.  But we are dealing with this problem on a daily basis in the Cork region.  There was a top class facility in Spike Island.  It was closed.  The Lusk facility keeps getting funding.

(I had to leave the meeting to take a phone call.)


[f]            NOTICES OF MOTION

13.            Councillor Tim Lombard:
“To ask the Council to clarify the water quality in Fountainstown Strand and state what measures they are taking to ensure that the beach will be open for bathing in 2015.”

Cllr Lombard (FG):  Small businesses will close because of this.  Is a big issue and we need to get clarity on it today.  We need to ensure that people can be confident of their use of the beach throughout the summer.

Cllr McGrath (FF):  Supports and seconds the motion.  Any suggestion of a closure of Fountainstown beach has implications.  Is vitally important for recreation and local economy.  We need to be as clear as we can early in the year.

Cllr Murphy-O’Mahony (FF) and Cllr K Murphy (FG) also spoke in favour.

CE:  Assessment to date is that Fountainstown is satisfactory for bathing and compliant.  As of now, there isn’t any issue with regard to it.  Will be kept under review.  Programme starts on June 1.  Ends September 15.  Results in Fountainstown are submitted to the EPA and will be assessed in conjunction with historical data.


Suspension of standing orders:

Cllr R McCarthy (SF):  The people of Bandon have waited for Bandon flood relief scheme for so long.  The sewerage scheme was to have separate systems for surface and foul water.  Irish Water has now decided that they will do a combined system.  Irish Water has said it will not accommodate new developments.  While she was on the Town Council for Bandon she remembers the various announcements that were made in relation to the schemes.  Has called for resurfacing of Bandon immediately.  It hasn’t been done for 2 years because we have been waiting for main drainage.  Has no confidence that it will be start.  Both schemes have been delayed.  Upsetting for everyone in the town.  Hope to meet with the Minister for the Environment to discuss.  Highlights the control that Irish Water has on development.  Will have serious consequences going forward for new developments across the country.  Hopes it can be resolved for Bandon straight away.

Cllr Murphy O’Mahony (FF):  Supports and seconds the motion.  Highights the plight of the people of Bandon.  They are being held to ransom with regard to any work done in the town.  Not good enough.  Traders of the town cannot sleep in nights of heavy rain in case there is another flood.  Calls on the Council to do anything possible to ensure both the schemes go ahead as quickly as possible.

Cllr J O’Donovan (FG):  Was a big shock to us all when we got the news.  Nothing can be done in the town until this goes ahead.  Also fears for the rest of the county.  The combined system approach may have a knock on effect throughout the county.  Surfacing in the town is desperate in some places.  Even a temporary job needs to be done to address this.

Cllr K Murphy (FG):  Unacceptable that Irish Water would hold up any future development in this way.  When will the scheme start?  One member of the Council drove through the town over the weekend and burst a tyre.

Cllr Lombard (FG):  Supports.  How is this issue going to be dealt with going forward?

County Engineer:  Irish Water has done a cost benefit analysis on the scheme in Bandon and they say it is not cost beneficial to separate the existing combined sewer.  So they will treat it at the treatment plant rather than separate.  It has raised its head only in Bandon but it is a national issue. Maybe the clinics should be used to discuss this with Irish Water.  Was told in August 2014 that works were to start in March 2015.  Now Irish Water is saying they will start in Q3 2015.

Cllr R McCarthy (SF):  Will the County Council be funding the separation of the scheme in lieu of Irish Water?

CE:  Yes, are thinking of it.  But if this arises in every other scheme, the County Council can’t afford it.    This is a matter that should be dealt with at a national level.  The Department needs to be involved.  It is not that we’re sitting back – the engineer is talking to Irish Water again this evening.  We may not be able to influence the flood issue because it is tied up in legal issues at present.  All we can do is press as hard as we can.

Cllr R McCarthy (SF):  Why can Irish Water not honour the commitment in the original plans?

County Engineer:  Tends to agree but they have said that they will review any scheme or reserve the right to redesign.  In the case of any pre-2014 planning permissions, they said they would honour those.


14.            Councillor Kieran McCarthy:
“This Council calls on the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys to recognise and act on her responsibility as Heritage Minister to protect and preserve the historic Moore Street area of Dublin City, including the terrace 10-25 Moore Street which was occupied by the Volunteers at the end of Easter Week 1916 and where the final meeting of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic took place. This requires the preservation not only of the National Monument 14-17 Moore Street but the protection of the terrace and of the integrity of the surrounding area which has been described as ‘the lanes of history’ and which has the potential to be sensitively developed as an historic quarter of our capital city, enhancing the living market trading tradition and bringing to life the area’s central role in the 1916 Rising.”

The motion was seconded by Cllr N Collins (Ind) who is from Dublin and spoke briefly and positively about the character and historical association of Moore Street.


15.            Councillor Michael Collins:
“I call on HSE to reverse the cuts to home help hours which were put in place over the past couple of years.  Many people who are receiving home help have been cut in the region of 50%.  Older people have a preference to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible but these cuts are making it impossible to do so. The end result of this is that our Community Hospitals and Nursing homes are full to capacity with a result that older people cannot be discharged from our acute Hospitals resulting in people remaining on trollies in our over crowded A&E Department.”

Cllr Murphy O’Mahony (FF):  Supports.  Any cut in home help hours is false economy.  In her area, the home help suppliers had to tell the old people of the cuts.  HSE offices did not even do this.  Many home help people are under pressure.  They are doing the other hour free to avoid friction with the client.

Cllr Conway (Ind):  Half an hour allocated to individuals in some cases.  Many of these home helps are working three times that amount of time.  Until all these agencies start working in tandem, we will never get rid of the trolleys.  Elderly are afraid to leave hospitals because they don’t know what to expect when hey get home.  Many of us are in the situation where we have dealt directly with home help for the sake of elderly relatives.  We know how difficult it is to work this.

Cllr R Murphy (SF):  SF had a motion in the Dail previously on this issue.  600,000 home help hours have been cut.  €10m has been cut from the disabled.  These are savage cuts on the most vulnerable in society.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  Cannot support this motion strongly enough.  Old people have worked all their lives, paid taxes all their lives.  Then they are abandoned by the government at the time when they need support the most.  Anyone who has tried to deal with the home help office would know this is something old people could not do on their own.  Not merely have the hours been cut, but the duties the home helps can do have been severely limited.  They can no longer make a cup of tea, wash a cup after a cup of tea, make porridge.  They are limited to personal care only – getting out of bed, washing, dressing.  This upsets the home helps as much as the clients.  Limiting home help is incredibly short-sighted on the part of the government because it clogs everything downstream.  In any event, this county has signed up to the County Age-Friendly Strategy, so it is encumbent on us to support this motion.

Cllr Doyle (FF):  Need to increase training for home helps also.  FETAC level 5 courses into college that is closing.  Would ease so many downstream problems.  Also spoke of the County Strategy so it is our duty to support this.

Cllr K Murphy (FG):  People would have the dignity to dress and undress – allowing 30 minutes for this duty of care seems to be lost by HSE.  The elderly need time.  Must meet the HSE face to face.

Cllr M Collins (Ind):  Thinking of Cllr D’Alton’s word – abandoned.  The elderly are being abandoned.  Knows home helps are delivering, but they’re doing it on a voluntary capacity.  Would be delighted if the HSE executive would come here to answer our questions.  But this is a fight that has been ignored for the last two years.  Minister Varadkar can shove beds into overcrowded rooms all he likes but he will enver solve the problem unless he solves it at source – in the home where people want to stay.


16.            Councillor Seamus McGrath:
“To request a written update on the Council’s plan regarding the ‘ Taking in Charge ‘ of a new round of residential estates.”

Link to Executive’s response to the motion: Response to McGrath’s motion

I left the meeting at this point and it was adjourned 10 minutes later.


17.            Councillor Noel Collins:
“That this Council request the Minister for Finance to amend the Valuation Act, 2001, to allow the business community to improve their premises, without excess increases in valuation.” 


18.            Councillor Margaret Murphy-O’Mahony:
That this Council writes to Bus Eireann to ascertain through which county towns their specially adapted buses pass through and on obtaining this information that we ensure that each of these towns has an adapted bus stop area.” 


19.            Councillor Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire:
“That in light of the significant lack of Housing available to low and middle income earners, Cork County Council agrees to explore the establishment of an Arms Length Housing Trust.” 


20.           Councillor Des O’Grady:
“To request a written report on the separate bank account held by Cork County Council to hold any monies accruing to the Council from the sale of dwellings. This report to list the amount of money currently held in this account, the amount held on 1st January 2014 and the separate amounts used for the provision of housing, the refurbishment /maintenance of existing housing, or any other related purpose during 2014.”



21.            Liadh Ní Riada, MEP:
Letter dated 12th January, 2015, in response to Council’s letter of 26th November, 2014, regarding the fluoridation of water.


22.            VOTES OF CONGRATULATIONS (if any)


23.            ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Notes from the Ballincollig-Carrigaline Municipal District meeting, 19th Jan 2015

1.         Deimhniú Miontuairiscí
To consider the confirmation and signing of the Minutes of the Meeting held on 15th December 2014.

Proposed and seconded.


Matters arising:

Cllr D’Alton:  We had asked for an update on the proposed route of the N28 at the last meeting.  Some of us attended the public exhibition at the Carrigaline Court Hotel on 15th December where the preferred route was shown.  The people of Ringaskiddy are very unhappy with this latest preferred route.  The previously agreed route ran to the south of the peninsula.  This latest proposal has the route running along that of the pylons, thereby cutting Ringaskiddy village in two.  The people of Ringaskiddy have waited for so long for a road to take heavy vehicles out of the village.  Now they may get one, but at a very high social cost.  Some of us elected reps had written to the National Roads Office when the route options were being prepared asking that the route would not run along the line of the pylons because of the social cost to Ringaskiddy village.  We were very disappointed to see that our request had not been heeded.  Apparently the reason the new route is being chosen is cost and ecology.  Asks that we write as a Municipal District to the NRA stating our concerns about the potential social impact of this preferred route on the village of Ringaskiddy.

Also to ask whether the Area Engineer has spoken with the Garda Sergeant in Passage West about the double yellow lines on Strand Street.

Cllr McGrath (FF):  Supports what Cllr D’Alton suggests in relation to the proposed route of the upgraded N28.  There are clearly issues with it.  There have been two significant changes from the previously agreed route.  One concerns the quarry/Fernhill Golf Club and the other is at the Ringaskiddy end.  The preferred route is much closer to the village and close also to a new school site.  Supports that we would write to the NRA and express our concerns.

Cllr Collins (FG): The proposal for 30 km/h speed restrictions in 5 pilot estates – how far along are we with this?

Maurice Manning (MM):  All Municipal Districts have come up with the list of pilot estates at this stage.  Not sure where it goes now.  Definitely has to go to public consultation.  Will check out and report back.


2.  Consideration of Reports and Recommendations:


3.  General Municipal Allocation.

MM:  Before the next meeting takes place, we are likely to be advertising for groups to apply to the general grant scheme.  New grants schemes/forms will come before full Council meeting next week.  There will be 3 separate schemes (capital grants, replacing Community Grants scheme), Amenity Grants and Community Contracts.  All of these will be funded from the GMA.  We will advertise early in February giving groups a month to respond.  Hope to make allocations in March or early April.  Any groups that would have got ongoing funding from TCs will be required to make applications again.

Closing date of early February applies to ALL groups – Francis, Dawn and otherwise.

Cllr Canty (FG):  Will there be an even playing field between Ballincollig which never had a Town Council and Passage West which did?

MM:  It is a general allocation.  When the budget was approved, the GMA was increased.  It is based on the population and the number of members per municipal district.  It is evenly distributed.

Cllr. D’Alton (Ind):  Believes Cllr Canty is asking that if 8 groups which always were funded from the Town Council are seeking funding, they will be guaranteed it but if another 8 groups from Ballincollig are seeking funding, because they never had a Town Council are they equally certain of receiving funding?

MM:  Yes, there will be enough in the GMA to go around.


4.         Cork County Council Litter Management Plan 2014

MM:  Making of a litter management plan is a reserve function of the Municipal District.  The next step is to advertise it, invite submissions.

Cllr Canty (FG):  Are we going to get any extra litter wardens?

MM:  There is no question of taking on additional litter wardens.  The litter function might be delegated to additional staff within the municipal district.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  When we advertise it and invite public submission, will we be referring the public to the draft Litter Management Plan that has been circulated today?  What is the status of this document?

MM:  Suppose we will be.  It has been approved by the Environment SPC.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  This was brought before the SPC before the election?

MM:  My understanding is that it was discussed at the January SPC meeting.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  But there was no discussion at all about it.  It wasn’t even presented.

Cllr McGrath (FF):  Frustrating because we are to make a litter management plan with no additional litter wardens.  Had lots of complaints about the state of Carrigaline town over Christmas.  Have to back the litter plan up with resources.

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF):  Objectives laid out in the shorter document make sense.  In general, shares the concerns that increasingly local authorities are looking to the community to take up work that the local authority is not doing.  Public expected an improvement in local services with the LPT and this is the kind of thing they expected the Council to do.  This weekend, people contacted him about litter blackspots.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  If the public submissions indicate that, for example, the way to deal with Objective 3 on advertising hoardings, is to put up a central advertising noticeboard in the town and, will it be the Municipal District’s GMA that will pay for it or will the county fund pay for it?

MM:  The intention with the GMA is that it would look after grants.  The Town Development Fund could perhaps help with litter.  There isn’t agreement yet on what the level of funding from the pay parking dividend will be but this will be additional to the Town Development Fund.  There is no particular litter budget.  There is a certain budget for clean ups but that covers individual areas and litter pickups that might be done in those areas.

Town Development Fund is for towns within the MD.  The pay parking fund is additional.  So if we have an idea under litter control that we think might be worh advancing, we can potentially fund it under the Town Development Fund.

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF):  Thought the GMA was for more than the grants.

MM:  Correct.  If members want to spend the GMA on other things, that can be done.  Members may wish to take a different view.  As of now, if the intention is to offer the 3 grant schemes that we have operated in the past and we get a sufficient number of quality applications, there may be little GMA left.

The elected members may make submissions to the Litter Management Plan also.


5.         Chun na Ruin so leanas ón gComhairleoir a mheas:
To consider the following Notices of Motion in the name of:

Cllr S McGrath:
1)  To request a written update on the commitment to progress with the Lehenaghbeg / Lehenaghmore Road Improvement Scheme design work.

Municipal District Officer (MDO):  Road design office will prepare tender documents for the design to go out to consultants.  Got a reply back to this motion from the Road Design Office at the end of the week.  Will circulate to all Members.  Road lining has been done by the Area Engineer.  This will be finished when the weather improves.

Cllr McGrath (FF):  It is disappointing to hear that the tender hasn’t commenced at this stage.  Thanks the Area Engineer for the work done – residents are grateful but they ask for an on site visit also please.

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF):  Supports what Cllr McGrath has said.  Regrettable that the design has not started already.  Welcome that there are markings done.  A number of other interim things were discussed at the residents’ meeting with the Executive – cats eyes in particular.

Cllr O’Donnabhain (FF):  Asked about salt/grit storage close to Lehenaghmore.

Area Engineer (AE):  Rochestown is the nearest salt/grit depot.  You can take it for granted that roads are salted at this time of year when it is necessary.  But if the residents want more, estates can apply for salt bins which for a sum of €50 will be supplied full of salt.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  The meeting between the residents and the Executive was on the 10th November.  That’s two months ago.  Not familiar with the detail that is involved in the preparation of the tender but as the Members are all in agreement as to how badly infrastructure is needed in the area, could they write as a group to the Roads Design Office to remind them of the urgency of the project.

AE:  They really are working on it in the design office in Ballincollig.  There is much liaison between many departments in the CCC involved in the preparation of the tender.  Assures that this tender preparation really is underway.

She has been talking to a contractor about cat’s eyes but it is better to have a meeting with the residents before advancing these further.


2)  To receive a briefing from the Engineer on the maintenance of Cemeteries.

Cllr McGrath (FF):  Has received a number of complaints (over the summer and in relation to the cemetery in Douglas recently) about the appearance of cemeteries.  Would like information so as to be better able to help constituents.

AE:  There are 3 cemeteries in the Municipal District (St James, Ballinrea and Douglas) with a permanent caretaker in residence.  We will be putting a maintenance contract in place for the upkeep of the rest of the cemeteries (Ballygarvan, Passage West and some from Ballincollig).  Department caretakers would also take on duties in the bigger cemeteries but they wouldn’t be there permanently.  So most of the work in Passage West or Carrigaline would be picked up by private contractors.

Cllr Canty (FG):  Ballincollig is a lawn cemetery.  It used to have a permanent caretaker but no more.  The rules now seem to be relaxing because of the absence of the caretaker.  Asks that the AE would have a look at it.

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF):  Signage at St Oliver’s where it says Relig is mis-spelt in a few places.

AE:  We are investigating the option of using the Gateway staff for cemetery maintenance.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  Does the maintenance contract cover older graveyards such as the Old Church Cemetery in Passage West?

AE:  No, older graveyards like PW are not included but issues there will be considered on a case by case basis.


3)  To request that a cleanup be carried out on the public walkway between Ardcarrig and Mount Rivers estates.

Cllr McGrath (FF):  Is aware that this is outside the Municipal District but it is in a very poor state.

AE:  We are aware of it and are going to get it cleaned.


6.         Aon Ghnó Eile           
Any Other Business

Cllr Desmond (FF):  Douglas pay parking – knows there is work being done on this at the moment.  But recent reports show that 1 in 5 parking fines and half the Southern Division parking fines are from Douglas.  On average, there are 47 parking fines a week in Douglas.  We are 12 months on from when the Transport SPC was to revise this.  Asks that the Municipal District would write to the SPC to encourage them to move the matter forward.

Also from Council meeting last Monday, we would like this Municipal District to put forward that Cork County Council would pass a resolution to reject the Minister’s notice of intent in relation to the CDP.   This will go to full Council on Monday.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  Supports both of Cllr Desmond’s suggestions.  Attended the last Transport SPC where pay parking policy was being discussed.  Strongly supports that this Municipal District would ask full Council to make a resolution in relation to the Minister’s Direction.  Had wanted to raise a motion to request that signage in the Municipal District, particularly on the back roads, would be cleaned.  Some is very dirty at present.  Would this be possible?  Aware that the last cleaning took place about 2 years ago.  Could we at least start a programme of cleaning?

AE:  Is aware of this issue.   Hoping to use Gateway staff for this task.  But it will be some time before they are organised to do so – training and equipment are necessary.  So yes, it will be done, but not immediately.

Cllr McGrath (FF):  Supports Cllr Desmond’s suggestions.  This is mid way in January – we are waiting on policy for pay parking since last February.  Supports that we highlight our annoyance at the ongoing delay.  Also trees in Raffeen – raised it before – but we have had high winds recently and the issue keeps coming up.  Knows the AE said it was actively being pursued.

AE:  Is meeting the contractor about the removal of the dangerous trees tomorrow afternoon.

MDO:  In relation to the recent report on parking fines, 1,276 parking notices related to play and display.  The others were for illegal parking or road traffic offences.  So there were under 5 notices/day for pay and display.  There were 117,802 pay and display tickets purchased over the same period.  So 1% of tickets purchased resulted in fines.

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF):  Draft policy was discussed by the SPC.  Could we have a copy and comment?  Understands that the policy has a start point of the financial advantages that can be gained from pay parking.

MM:  No.  That will delay things further.  New policy is being drawn up and will be presented to them next week or so.  At the end of the month if the SPC cannot decide on all-county policy, it will have to revert back to the Municipal Districts to take their own decision.

Cllr Murphy (SF):  Would like to pass a vote of congratulations to Daniela Burke who won a cap in Irish U16 ladies team.

Notes from the Southern Committee meeting, 19th Jan 2015


(a)  To consider the confirmation and signing of the Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting of the Committee held on 15th December, 2014.

Cllr Keohane (SF):  Concerned that three dangerous junctions that he mentioned are not noted.

DM: If there are issues with things not being mentioned in the minutes, could the Executive be let know in advance.

2 tenders for Haulbowline Island Site Investigation being opened.



  • Housing Operational Reports.
  • Housing Capital Reports.

Cllr Canty (FG): Concerned that the same number of houses is still vacant in Innishmore.

Mary Ryan: Repairs and refurbishment 2014 report shows the work that has been done.  22, 23, 25 20, etc. has had work done.

Cllr Conway (Ind): What is meant by casual vacancies?

Cllr Creed (FG):  There are a number of houses that haven’t been done in 2014.  Is that a question of money?

Cllr McGrath (FF):  Vacant housing report – some of the units listed for which works have not commenced since August.  Is that simply down to funding?  Do we have a new funding stream now for 2015?

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  Long term voids – funding that was received from the government before Christmas was to have been drawn down before Nov.  Was this done?

Mary Ryan:  A casual vacancy is less than 6 months.  Points out the work that has been done in 2014.  We drew down allocated funding from the Dept.  There were allocations for certain streams of money.  There was a shortfall funded by the Council to the tune of €800k.  Got €1.3m from the Dept.  We’re getting a better bang for our buck by doing it this way.  There are indications that there will be another funding stream for 2015.  Waiting for a meeting with the Dept.  The fastest way to provide units is to refurbish existing stock.  Construction is important but refurbishment is faster.  We don’t know how much funding we will get.

Cllr Buckley (SF):  East Cork MD – work hasn’t started yet.  His dad’s house has been idle since last June.  The house was turnkey.  What is the delay?  Especially when houses are at a living standard.

Cllr McGrath (FF):  Agrees that refurbishment is the way to go for speed.  Thinks awful that 3 months after the national budget that the Council hasn’t been notified of extra money this year.  We are working on vacant units at the moment.  IS that being

Mary Ryan:  Standards for rental have changed and this means we have to get each house certified and up to current building standards.  We will check out this particular house

We are working on preparing tenders and having a tranche of work ready.  This takes time.  Specifications have to be prepared and inspections have to be made.  This background work is being done and we will be ready then when we go to tender to use whatever money we get.


Affordable housing:

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  Report 4 – p2 – Ballincollig: no details given as to how many times it was offered or refused.

Cllr McCarthy (FG):  Update on Maple Woods development in Midleton please?  Any completion date?

Angela Murphy:  Maple Woods – lease signed for phase 2.  Nominations for all 25 units.  2/3 of tenants selected.  Going through selection for remainder.  Expect units to be occupied in February.

Vacated late last year – was offered in last week or so.  Nominations were given to the voluntary body and interviews were held.

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  Seems a long time for a unit to be vacant.


RAS and HAP:

Cllr Buckley (SF):  If someone gets on to the HAP scheme, does HAP pay the month’s rent in advance for the deposit?

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  31 people transferred to the HAP scheme since the beginning.  Are they all new applicants?  How many transferred from social welfare lists?

Cllr McCarthy (SF):  Must a tenant apply to HAP before they get a transfer.  Many of his people have been refused.

Cllr Linehan-Foley (Ind):  HAP – if you are in a voluntary housing body, can you transfer for overcrowding reasons to HAP?

Angela Murphy: Deposit is not looked after by HAP.  In exceptional circumstances, perhaps the CWO might.

Bulk of 31 people on HAP are new applicants.  About one third are transferred from social welfare.

You cannot apply for a transfer from a social house or a voluntary house into HAP.  HAP does not cover this type of transfer.  Allocations policy sets out conditions under which person can get a transfer.  Individual cases can come directly.

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  Do they feel the HAP process is moving forward well?  Seems targets have not been reached.  Rent threshold seems to be the biggest stumbling block especially close to the city.

Angela Murphy: It’s early days to comment on the progress of HAP.  Was introduced on 15th September.  None of the pilot authorities have reached the targets set for them.  The target was also revised early in December to 500.  That target was reached.  Every new applicant approved for social housing receives a letter of approval and there is a section in that letter that tells the applicant they can apply for HAP.  So it is up to the person whether they want to apply or not.  We meet with the DSP regularly about transfers to HAP.  We will be talking about other people on our waiting list and contacting them directly.  The DSP people are generally 18 months + on rent supplement.  Many of the new applicants are working (27) and could not have availed of housing support if it wasn’t for HAP.  Our experience has been that the numbers are increasingly slowly.

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  Welcomes the 27.  Better than rent supplement from this regard.  Finds it astonishing that the targets were revised downwards.

AM:  The revision for the targets was in the context of starting very late in the year.  The start date had been revised several times.  Targets for this year are 1800.  A lot of the people on our lists had never heard of HAP before so there is a steep learning curve.  There will be no revision downwards in the current year.  The Council made a submission to the Department about the rent limits.  There will be another letter going from last Friday’s SPC about the same issue.


Serviced sites:

Cllr Conway (Ind): Site in Blarney in state of dereliction.  What will happen to it?  (Station Rd)

Cllr Hegarty (FG):  Cork Road, Killeagh.  Registered site but not on the list.

AM:  Debit balance on all of these sites.  Keep looking at the market value.  Up to now, we’d be at a loss if we sold.  We’ve asked the Dept about a site subsidy which would assist us with the sale of the sites.  We’ll be asking them again.  We’ll look at the Station Road site and see if we can do anything.

Cllr N Collins (Ind):  This is the worst housing crisis he has ever experienced in his time as an elected member.  Encountered 6 cases of homelessness on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Fixed them up with families eventually.  Overcrowding also a real issue.  Many cases on housing list.  One family of 7 members living in 2 bedroom house.  Family is approved for housing with Cork County Council.  Council is trying to help with 4 bedroom house.  The need for 4 bedroom houses was never more urgent.  We will have to move on this or we’ll be back to single beds and birth control.

Financial reports:

Cllr Buckley (SF):  Efficiency works – are they private or council?

Karina:  222 works carried out on Council houses.  We made a submission last week to look for extra money for this in the coming year.

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF):  Is there a list of estates already drawn up should funding come on stream?  Mentions specific estate needing attention.

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  Commends the Council on the 222 houses.  Is there a figure for the number that need to be done in the future?  Can a list of the estates waiting to be done be circulated?

Karina: Phase 1 of energy efficiency is a rolling programme.  7,000 houses so will be done over years.  Have identified houses for 2015.  Please tell us if you know of any in particular.  Submissions are welcome.



(a)  By Councillor Noel Collins

(i)  “Council report on the number of private leaking Waste Water Treatment Plants serving Housing Estates in South Cork, and if these will be submitted to the Department of the Environment , as requested, so works can be prioritised.”

Cllr Collins (Ind):  Thanks John O’Neill for comprehensive report.  DoE has asked for a list of all these estates to be sent to the Department.  Lists additional areas that should be included in the list.

Cllr Buckley (SF): Supports the motion and the inclusion from Cllr Collins of specific housing estates.

Cllr McGrath (FF):  This is a huge problem.  Seems from the report that we are a long way off a solution.  The whole issue seems very much up in the air with Irish Water.  What about bonds?  What role do they play?

Cllr Linehan-Foley (Ind) and Cllr Moynihan (FF):  Supported.  Latter notes that these come to the fore only when there are problems and where the Council is called in to sort them out.  When will they be progressed?  Where these plants exist in developments belonging to Cork County Council, will Irish Water take them in charge or will Cork County Council keep responsibility for them.

Divisional Manager (DM):  Well aware of the estates that are causing problems and do have stand alone infrastructure.  Many of these would have been put in place on a temporary basis and weren’t envisaged to be a long term solution to servicing of the sites.  Delays in available money for investment and the whole Irish Water transition has left these facilities in place for longer than expected.

We generated a priority list of 20 and wrote to Irish Water before Christmas.  Seeking a way forward.  We have an issue with bringing these plants up to standard.  The whole thing has to be sorted out between the Department and Irish Water as to who is going to pay for what.

When we see a way forward ourselves, we have taken the bold move of doing works.  The estates then come to Cork County Council for taking in charge.  The formal process for taking in charge is that we would submit these estates to Irish Water.  The County Council took 170 estates in charge in the last year and we hope to do more this year.

Bonds have been an aid in dealing with financial institutions.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  What happens when the bondholder doesn’t co-operate?  And is it not the case that the County Council prefers when the bondholder carries out the works because they can generally achieve greater efficiencies than the County Council?

DM: When the bondholder doesn’t co-operate, they can always call in the bond themselves.  Cork County Council hasn’t done this to date.  They don’t really care whether better efficiencies can be achieved through the bondholder doing it or not.  They’re not attempting to make money on this!


(ii)  “That Council request the Government to lift the embargo on staff recruitment in Local Authorities, to allow the employment of social workers, to help with the many social issues resulting from the social housing crisis. ”

Cllr Collins (Ind): We have no social workers or doctors working with Cork County Council any more.  There used to be, when he was elected first.  Asks that the embargo would be lifted to allow employment of these services.

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  A lot of local authorities do employ social workers.  There are 4 in the City and since the embargo was introduced here the 3 that were employed have resigned or retired.  The embargo is indeed a blunt instrument.  Remembered the traffic wardens we spoke of at last full Council meeting.

Cllr McCarthy (SF):  Thinks embargo should be lifted generally.  Now we have people on Gateway and other such demeaning schemes.

Cllr Hegarty (FG):  Is it true that in certain areas we can make a special case through the Department to apply for certain positions?

Cllr Buckley (FG):  Issue has to be raised at government level.  We as Councillors seem to be the social workers at the moment.  Needs to be raised at top level.

Cllr Linehan-Foley (Ind):  Please confirm that there is an anti-social behaviour officer.

Mary Ryan:  We have 1 social worker and the other 2 took redundancy.  But we have staff area officers dealing with rent arrears.  There are staff of other grades and other people that are well able to deal with these issues.

DM:  Exceptions – CE is an example of an exception.  There are certain cases where the Department will sanction an employment but they are limited.  Reiterates what Mary has said – there is a restriction against re-employing social workers because the other 2 lost took redundancy.

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  We were told before that there were no social workers with the Council.  Supports Cllr Hegarty’s suggestion that we write as a test case to the Department requesting the re-employment of social workers.



Cllr Conway (Ind): Asked for a list of estates in the County that have not been taken in charge.  Has been asking for months!

Cllr Cullinane (Ind):  Has also asked for the same list.

Cllr Collins (FG):  Can the top table assure that garda checks are done on all transfers before they are implemented?

Cllr Sheppard (FG):  An issue with a number of houses in an estate in Cobh in relation to lead in the water.  Brought this up on the rural water committee 3 times to date.  Has rung County Hall and Irish Water.  2 residents in the estate are on bottled water since before Christmas.  Was assured that someone would be out to test the water.  How can this issue be resolved?

DM:  Asks Cllr Sheppard to give the details.  Recalls there was work done in Cobh some years ago in relation to lead.  Standards have dropped in recent years so maybe that is causing the problem.

Karina:  Garda checks are carried out prior to all allocations, whether applicants or transfers.

DM:  Have noted the fact that a list of estates not taken in charge has been asked for.  There are a lot of estates built in the 1950s/60s which have not been taken in charge yet.  Easier to provide a list of the estates which have been taken in charge.