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Leading Environment Groups Oppose €7m Dursey Island Mass Tourism Project

category national | environment | press release author Tuesday November 05, 2019 17:43author by foie

Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment Nov 2019

LEADING ENVIRONMENT GROUPS OPPOSE €7m DURSEY ISLAND MASS TOURISM PROJECT
Wild Atlantic Way ‘undermining quality and experience of Ireland’s wild coastal landscape’

An €7m Failte Ireland flagship project has attracted the opposition of three of Ireland’s leading environmental organisations.

An Taisce, Birdwatch Ireland, and Friends of the Irish Environment have all submitted extensive objections to the application by Cork County in partnership with Fáilte Ireland to An Bord Pleanala for a €7m development on Dursey Island off the west Cork coast.

The current 6-person cable car is to be replaced by a state-of-the-art two-way cable car system capable of carrying up to 300 people each way every hour. The project includes an extensive Visitor Centre with restaurant and gift shop on the mainland.

PRESS RELEASE
FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT
3 NOVEMBER 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LEADING ENVIRONMENT GROUPS OPPOSE €7m DURSEY ISLAND MASS TOURISM PROJECT
Wild Atlantic Way ‘undermining quality and experience of Ireland’s wild coastal landscape’

An €7m Failte Ireland flagship project has attracted the opposition of three of Ireland’s leading environmental organisations.

An Taisce, Birdwatch Ireland, and Friends of the Irish Environment have all submitted extensive objections to the application by Cork County in partnership with Fáilte Ireland to An Bord Pleanala for a €7m development on Dursey Island off the west Cork coast.

The current 6-person cable car is to be replaced by a state-of-the-art two-way cable car system capable of carrying up to 300 people each way every hour. The project includes an extensive Visitor Centre with restaurant and gift shop on the mainland.

Compulsory purchase orders by the Council were issued last month to enable the construction of 16 passing bays in the 4 km spur from the main Beara peninsula road to accommodate an increase in visitor numbers to 80,000 per year.

BIRD THREAT
All of the objections emphasise the decline in the numbers of Chough, a species with special protection under national and EU law and amber listed as a bird of conservation concern, citing the bird survey submitted with the application which shows a decline in chough numbers by 30% since 2003. In addition, the failure of the state to undertake a Chough census in 2012 means there is a knowledge gap on the national numbers of the species and caution is required in this hotspot for Chough in the South West. According to Friends of the Irish Environment, the only factor that has changed is the steadily increasing number of tourists, which reached 20,000 last year. They also question the use of EU funding for ‘transport based’ tourism projects.

All three objections highlight the lack of any Management Plan for the island. ‘The lack of conservation objectives for the site and the lack of an existing visitor management plan or SPA management plan means that there is no pathway for long term Chough conservation through which the proposed development could fit,’ BirdWatch Ireland’s objection states.

WILD ATLANTIC WAY
The submission by An Taisce states that ‘The inappropriate promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way as a private car route is undermining the quality and experience of the wild coastal landscape that it is seeking to promote and is creating congestion points. Projects seeking to attract larger visitor numbers, and consequently causing traffic generation and physical impacts, should not be located in areas of ecological or landscape sensitivity and which do not have the carrying capacity for the impact and service demand generated.’

Specifically, An Taisce drew attention to ‘The ecological sensitivity of Dursey as well as the narrow local road link from the national and regional road network which renders it unsuitable for a proposal of this scale. Promoting the large-scale expansion of volume-based day trip tourism to Dursey is undesirable on multiple grounds’.

‘The model for the future of tourism investment in West Cork should be non-car-based and promote longer stays accommodated in locations to a level commensurate with the capacity of the host environment rather than the high volume car or bus based day trip model upon which the subject project is based’, An Taisce concluded.

FIE’s Tony Lowes said that ‘Not since the Office of Public Works tried to build the Burren Interpretative Centre at Mullaghmore in 1992 has Ireland seen such an inappropriate proposal.’

The decision from An Bord Pleanala is expected on 9 March, 2020.

ENDS

CONTACTS
Tony Lowes, Friends of the Irish Environment
353 (0)87 2176316 / 353 (0)27 74771
NGOs
http://www.antaisce.org/
https://birdwatchireland.ie/
https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/

Related Link: https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17720-leading-environment-groups-oppose-7m-dursey-island-mass-tourism...oject

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