From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
Mayo News 31 Dec 2003
4, Jan 2004 - 10:34

Three from the Mayo News:

Planning approval for €300 million windfarm

MAYO’S future as a significant energy-producing county has been secured with the announcement that one of Europe’s largest wind farms planned for Bellacorick has been given the green light by An Bord Pleanála. The 2300 million development on the 12,000-acre site will have the potential to power 200,000 homes with green electricity. Planning permission granted by Mayo County Council last July had been appealed by a number of local people, as well as by the developers, Bord na Móna Energy and Hibernian Wind Energy, an ESB subsidiary.

Castlebar helipad decision "wonderful for democracy"

THE controversial use of a garden at Milebush, Castlebar as a helicopter landing pad and a nearby shed as a hangar does not constitute "exempted development" under planning legislation and will require planning permission. The issue was referred to An Bord Pleanala by Castlebar Town Council on August 15th last following complaints received from Vincent Walsh, Castlebar regarding disturbance arising from the use of a concrete slab/garden area in a private residence as a helicopter landing pad. A warning letter was issued by Mayo County Council to the property owner, Patrick Staunton, on 12th December, 2002. The complainant,Vincent Walsh maintained that cattle were being disturbed and frightened by the operation of the helicopter.

IDA focus on Mayo business parks

A NEW impetus has been given to the development of Westport business park with the announcement at the IDA end of year review that particular effort would be focussed on the development of world class business and technology parks at key towns around the Western region including Castlebar, Westport and Ballina where significant resources have been, and will continue to be, invested. "The availability of high quality business parks and buildings will be an important catalyst for attracting new knowledge intensive businesses in the years ahead," said Jim Murren, IDA Ireland’s Regional Manager for the West. The IDA business park planned for the Castlebar road outside Westport, close to the Allergan plant, is still at the land acquisition stage but the expectation is that this will be completed during 2004. Planning permission has been applied for an IDA business park on the Sligo Road outside Ballina and development is almost complete at the IDA business park in Castlebar on the Moneen Road, bar some road works and work on the entrance, which is expected to be completed by March/April. The key message in the IDA end of year review this month was that Ireland’s competitive advantage depends on our ability to create an environment where knowledge and research, high level skills and expertise, excellent infrastructure and business services are all combined in a flexible and creative way. "This is very much the trend here in the West Region where a new breed of knowledge intensive projects are being attracted into the area," said Jim Murren of the IDA, citing examples such as Baxter Healthcare, which have established a new bioscience production plant at their Castlebar facility and Lionbridge Technologies in Ballina which has become the corporation’s international headquarters for its applications software. "Companies such Fort Wayne Metals in Castlebar, Biological Laboratories in Ballina and Allergan Pharmaceuticals in Mayo are all deepening their roots in their local economies through the addition of new functions and this trend will continue into the future," he added.

The windfarm permission has a certain irony in view of the fact that the 30-year state papers just released have quite a bit of coverage of the 1970s campaign to site a nuclear power station in the Bangor Erris region. I am delighted that ABP has given the go ahead for the project. It will have far less impact on the local environment than the burning of peat from the area which has been going on for years. And what if we were now preparing to decommission a nuclear reactor up there?

The helicopter controversy near the golf course follows on from the hedge controversy – are they, or are they not developments under the planning acts? Yes and no were the answers respectively. Farmers complaining about their cattle being frightened by choppers landing in backgardens of the 'sites' along the road that were sold off for housing is surely one of the more exotic expressions of the growing conflict between ribbon dwellers and the farmers who sell off these little bits of agricultural land in the first place. A more mundane example is when the cows break out of their zoned agricultural land and walk all over the nice suburban-type lawns of these one-off houses. That’s just me griping because some starving cows broke out of their field looking for some grass to eat and stomped all over six gardens in my own neighbourhood. They have munched their way through the delicate blooms and ornamental plants in our flower beds - and expensive meal. Free fertiliser delivered to your door by a cow – in the form of a cowpat. But who will pay to have the lawn redone? For the past few nights we’ve been involved in a running battles, herding cattle up and down the main road and in and out of gardens. And of course leaving multiple and increasingly irate messages on the unanswered mobile phone number - the one that we were told is the number of the person who is leasing the land. I feel like George Bush at his ranch I’ve had to put on the boots so many times in the past few days in order to go out herding the cattle. I’m thinking of buying a horse to help with the job. So I have quite a bit of sympathy with Pat Staunton who just wants to land his chopper in peace!

Following on from my comments re the Western People article it is good to see the IDA paying attention to the knowledge economy aspects discussed so I’ve chopped a larger than normal chunk from the IDA article. Have a read of the detail. It's encouraging.


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