The County Council Chief Executive’s assessment of the Port of Cork’s planning application was circulated to all Members on Wednesday of last week. It was disappointingly but unsurprisingly in full support of the planning application.
I was particularly disappointed that the CE’s report did not, in my opinion, reflect any concern for the effect the proposed development at the port in Ringaskiddy might have on the other multi-faceted benefits that Cork Harbour offers. It is acclaimed as one of the potential tourism jewels in the county, marine-based recreation continues to grow ever more in popularity, it is surrounded by designated scenic routes, it has a highly sensitive landscape of designated national importance and this area of the Lower Harbour is home to some 30,000 people. The report spoke of the economic benefits of the Port’s move as presented in the planning application, but it did not mention the socio-economic benefits of all the other uses which the Harbour offers and is developing.
I prepared an assessment for the Members to highlight what I perceived to be important topics for consideration that remained unaddressed by the CE’s report. I did not suggest that the Port should not move to the Lower Harbour, but merely that we, as Members, had a duty to alert An Bord Pleanala to the fact that we believed the report to be incomplete in the context of assessment of the impacts of the proposed development. The debate in the Chamber was recorded as part of the Strategic Infrastructure Process for the benefit of An Bord Pleanala.
I was very grateful and relieved when the Members agreed to append my report to that of the CE for sending to An Bord Pleanala as a reflection of the Members concerns for full and just impact assessment.