AN BORD PLEANALA

Local Government (Planning and Development) Acts, 1963 to 1999

County Clare

Planning Register Reference Number: P96/1330

APPEAL by the Burren Action Group care of Environmental Management Services Limited of Seapoint Avenue, 42 Villarea Park, Glenageary, County Dublin and by An Taisce of Tailor's Hall, Black Lane, Dublin and by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (care of the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland of 51 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin) against the decision made on the 15th day of September, 1998 by the Council of the County of Clare to refuse permission to the said Minister for development comprising and Entry Point at Crag Road (CR103), Gortlecka and Knockaunroe, to the Burren National Park comprising covered waiting area, toilets, ranger accommodation, ancillary parking, storage and signage. This application proposes the removal of elements including the equipment building, treatment plant (part), landscaping (part) and the retention and completion of elements landscaping (part), reservoir and treatment plant (part) of a previously proposed visitor centre which will otherwise be backfilled and the land reinstated to its previous condition at the Burren National Park, County Clare:

DECISION: Pursuant to the Local Government (Planning and Development) Acts, 1963 to 1999, permission is hereby refused for the said development for the reasons set out in the schedule hereto.

SCHEDULE

  1. Having regard to the fact that -
  1. the proposed development is located on a site within a relatively remote and undeveloped part of the Burren in the vicinity of "the core area" of the Burren National Park which contains a significant number of habitats and species (for example, turloughs and limestone pavements) which are required to be protected under the terms of the Council Directive 92/43/EEC of the 21st day of May, 1992, on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (the Habitats Directive) with a view towards ensuring bio-diversity,
  2. the Burren is of international botanical importance, and
  3. the Management Plan for the Burren National Park indicates that nature conservation takes precedence when conflicts arise between different objectives for the management of the Burren National Park,

it is considered that the provision of the proposed Entry Point and ancillary facilities at this particular location would generate significant concentrations of visitors and traffic within "the core area" of the Burren National Park, and that the proposed development would seriously injure the amenities of the area by reason of:-

  1. the impact of the development on the fragile ecology of the habitats within "the core area" of the National Park arising from the intensification of visitor use which would lead to and unacceptable degradation of the physical environment in this area of outstanding landscape quality,
  2. the impact of the development on the natural character of an undeveloped part of the Burren where such development and associated traffic movements would be obtrusive in the landscape and detract from the remote quality of the area, and
  3. the impact of necessary road works associated with the access route from Kilnaboy to the site which would seriously detract from the scenic amenity and rural character of the landscape.

In these circumstances it is considered that the proposed development would not be in accordance with the principles of sustainable development as set out in "Sustainable Development - A Strategy for Ireland", published by the Government in April, 1997, and would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and development of the area.

  1. Having regard particularly to the intrinsic conservation significance of the environs of the site, the potential availability of additional alternative access locations to the Burren National Park and in the absence of and pending the implementation of a satisfactory integrated programme for the provision of appropriate visitor information facilities on the periphery of the Burren region in accordance with best international practice, it is considered appropriate to apply the precautionary principle to the proposed development, because it is considered that it would constitute an unacceptable risk to the conservation of natural habitats and species.

Signed by Member of An Bord Pleanala - 3 March, 2000