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Greencastle ferry decision deferred

The proposed Greencastle to Greenore Ferry has been deferred again after a late consultation response from the DOE’s Marine Division was received just hours before a decision was to be made. At last Wednesday’s Council Planning Committee members were due to decide on on the planning permission for the proposed ferry but any decision was deferred after Anthony McKay Head of Planning confirmed that they had received a consultation response from the Marine Division which highlighted possible deficiencies and inadequacies in the assessment of potential to shellfish and nearby oyster beds from discharges from terminal infrastructure such as offices and toilet blocks. “In light of that late contribution it may not be prudent to proceed with th e application to move to a decision at this stage,” he said. “It should be deferred to see if there any deficiencies and see if they might be addressed.” Mournes Councillor Laura Devlin SDLP said that the DOE had been ‘unprofessional’ in replying so late and called for a letter to be sent to the Environment and her party colleague Mark Durkan advising that these delays ‘won’t be acceptable in the future. No consultee should respond [at this late stage],” she said. “It is most unprofessional and this Council should not accept this behavior. This does not bode well for the future.” Fellow Mournes Councillor Willie Clarke Sin Fein added that it was a ‘disgrace’ for a consultee to come back at such a late stage given that the Planning Committee endeavoured  to ‘streamline the process where decisions are turned around quickly. I find it unacceptable that the Department would come at this late stage,”£ he said. “The are all well aware of a fishery there. It shows total disregard for the Committee and the planning process and the applicant and the objectors. From now on we have to send a strong message to the counsultees that we have a limited time and then no further information can be brought forward.” Rowallen Alliance Councillor Patrick Brown said that he would like to support the comments made by Cllrs Devlin and Clarke and agreed the application should be deferred. “The fact that this department can get touch with us 12 hours before the decision is ludicrous,” he added. Committee member Jarlath Tinnelly (indp) was also forthright in his criticism of the DOE. “It’s an absolute disgrace that this only arrived with our Chief Planning Officer at 4pm yesterday. It undermines the authority of this planning committee that they can treat us with contempt. “maybe no information should be accepted after the agenda has been set. I don’t know if that is practical but it is right to defer the matter until more information can be obtained.” The planning permission was deferred after Cllr Brown’s proposal was seconded by Garth Criag (DUP) Slieve Croob. Cllr Devlin’s proposal to write to Minister Durkan was seconded by Cllr Clarke. A spokesperson for the Greencastle Area Residents Group (GARG) said they were very pleased with the deferral but added that there were numerous other concerns ‘which have not been addressed.’ “The impact of the ferry in its entirety is still the bigger issue not just in relation to the staff toilet facilities and office,” the statement read. “However we are glad that the possible detrimental effect to the oyster beds is under investigation. We hope the new councillors will take the time and avail of all available information in order to fully understand the true implications of this major planning operation. The application was previously deferred by Newry and Mourne Council’s Planning Committee in February.


20th May 2015

Newry Reporter