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Tense debate had over Skibb land rezoning

Wednesday, 11th September, 2019 10:27am

A war of words broke out in County Hall this week as a Social Democrats councillor attempted to get a controversial site in Skibbereen rezoned.

The land in question, at Poundlick, has been at the centre of controversy in recent months with plans to build a plastics factory on the site reaching the High Court this summer.

The Save Our Skibbereen group objected to the plans and won a High Court action against An Board Pleanála’s (ABP) decision to give it the green light. ABP has now looked for further information and the planning application is still a live one, however.

During Monday’s Cork County Council meeting, Cllr Holly Cairns tabled a motion asking that the land, which the IDA own since 1975, be rezoned to green belt.

Sinn Féin Cllr Paul Hayes seconded the motion and said he believed rezoning was the way forward for the people of the West Cork town. Mayor of Cork Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan also backed Cllr Cairn’s motion saying that it was what the people of Skibbereen want.

Cllr Joe Carroll of Fianna Fáil said he had to “sit down” when he first saw the motion.  He said that the motion was telling the IDA that it doesn’t want them or jobs and believed that it shouldn’t have been on the agenda, given there’s a live planning application on the land.

However Cllr Cairns hit back saying that neither Cllr Hayes or the Mayor were supporting this because they are anti-jobs.

Independent Cllr Danny Collins said he couldn’t support the motion while fellow Independent Cllr Alan Coleman described it as “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”.

Fine Gael’s John O’Sullivan dubbed it a “knee jerk reaction”. Similar to Cllr Carroll, he said it would send out a wrong signal that jobs weren’t wanted while voicing the opinion that a plastics factory wouldn’t be suitable on that site. “We need to send out a message that West Cork is open for business.”

His partymate Kevin Murphy agreed adding that West Cork needs all the industry it can get. “We have to have some available land for business.”

A vote was taken on the motion and it was defeated by a margin of 38 to six. 

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