ARGUABLY Dundalk’s most ambitious and controversial development to ever reach planning adjudication has been denied – leading major players on both sides of the project into a war of words.
An Bord Pleanala definitively rejected Innovative Leisure Solutions Ltd’s plans for a e430 million artificial ski slope, leaving its supporters dismayed and its opponents overjoyed.
The board has rejected the plans on two fundamental grounds; namely that zoning of the site would “lead to the creation of an unsustainable car-dependent development” contrary to Department of Transport “ Smarter Travel a Sustainable Transport Future - A New Transport Policy for Ireland 2009-2020 “; and due to the fact that the site was located “in an area subject to coastal flooding “ and there was a lack of “impact assessment” of bringing in 750,000 tonnes of fill material, something which “has not been justified”. Moreover, “the need for the development to be located on this environmentally sensitive site has not been justified “
In a statement, Sam Curran of Innovative Leisure Systems Ltd said he was deeply disappointed with the decision and described the project as a “beacon of hope” for the future.
“To us this was a serious attempt to bring Ireland as a whole to become a world class resort that would have put Ireland firmly on the map.”
Mr Curran also went on to apologise to the people of Ireland for “failing to give you an international hub for recreation, entertainment, and above all a minority sports programme.”
Mr Curran also said while they respected the decision, “we do not for one moment separate personal interests in this instance”. He also thanked Dundalk Town Council and Louth County Council for giving the porject the initial greenlight.
The move has been welcomed by An Taisce, and the Louth Environmental Group (LEG), who both made telling submissions against the behemoth development.
What’s more, An Tasice has slammed Louth County Council, saying that permission should never have been given for the planning phase on the project. “This decision highlights the continuing failure of local authorities (here Louth Co Council - which originally gave permission for the proposal) to respect national policy on land use, transport and environmental protection.
“The competence of the local authority zoning and planning decision-making process needs to be addressed. The site should never have been zoned by Louth Co Co for development in the first place. The decision re-inforces the key recommendation of the Mahon Tribunal to establish an effective and independent Planning Regulator, making the implementation of this finding all the more urgent,” An Taisce stated.
Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat Mark Fizsimmons of the LEG questioned “why was a fluvial floodplain land which was also a high risk of tidal inundation ever recommended as a suitable development for such a project.”