“Residents must be able to have their say” on Hellfire plans

by Padraig Conlon

Concerned residents opposing a controversial development at the Hellfire Club must get a chance to have their say.

This is according to local Independent councillor Alan Edge who is calling for a right to reply for the Save the Hellfire campaigners.

The call comes following the council’s confirmation that the additional information sought by An Bord Pleanala in relation to the proposed Dublin Mountain Visitor Centre had now been received.

South Dublin County Council’s plans for the visitor centre at the iconic site include a panoramic cafe, exhibition space, a ramblers lounge, toilets, changing facilities, a shop and education centre.

Their application to An Bord Pleanála has been met with furious opposition from many local residents, conservationists, politicians and the Save The Hellfire group.

Stating his opposition to the project, Cllr Edge questioned the wisdom of proceeding with the development.

“It’s a fallacy to think that you need a €15 million development in order to enjoy the beauty of nature,” he said.

“Improvements in parking facilities and other amenities could be made without resorting to such a large-scale development.”

Following an oral hearing in 2018, the board found that the assessments carried out on behalf of Coillte and South Dublin County Council were inappropriate in several respects.

Specifically, they were tasked to carry out a fuller survey of merlin, a migratory bird; to provide greater detail about the impact of increased visitor numbers on vegetation and habitats and to prepare more detailed surveys and monitoring of biodiversity in the surrounding area.

The full contents of the new information have not yet been released but Cllr Edge says he welcomes the council’s indication they would be published as soon as An Board Pleanala direct them to do so, which may “hopefully by the end of the week.”

Councillor Edge praised the campaign mounted by Save the Hellfire, describing it as “born out of love for the landscape and its wildlife and expressed the fervent hope that the right to reply would be given to them”.

“They have worked tirelessly and in difficult circumstances which included a gross misuse of the powers of the Standards in Public Office Commission,” he said.

“I support calls from fellow councillors from across the political spectrum for a full discussion of this issue in the Chamber and a rethink of the drastic scale of the proposal.”

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