Malahide Demesne proposal dropped by Council Executive

Following approval by the full Council on 11th July of the combined car park/ multi use area and forest adventure proposal,  a legal challenge was taken by local resident Noel Mahon, one of the Save Malahide Castle Woodland group. Central to the grounds of the challenge were the issues identified by the Council’s Law Agent in her advice of 31st May – that the information put on public display did not comply with the requirements in the legislation.

The Council Executive have now announced that they do not wish to defend the case and are abandoning the proposal.

It is unfortunate that local residents have to resort to legal challenges to achieve adequate information and meaningful public consultation. I hope that the Council Executive and the majority of Councillors who voted for the project will take a lesson from this project.

There is a good practice guide for public participation which we could learn from.. I will work to have the Council implement the Maastricht Recommendations on Promoting Effective Public Participation in Decision-making in Environmental Matters.

The Council Executive’s press release includes:

“It will now, therefore, be necessary to carry out a review of the number of short-term car parking spaces in and adjacent to Malahide Village and, if necessary, identify suitable locations for the provision of additional spaces.”

This of course is what should have been done before any proposal for increased car parking was made. I welcome the study; however I don’t believe it can justify converting any more of Malahide Demesne into carparking. We need to focus on protecting the Demesne and improving access by foot, bicycle and public transport.

Reports on County Development Plan – Cycling motions

Last month’s County Development Plan meetings discussed a wide range of issues. I’m posting some reports in particular on the motions I submitted. I also supported important motions by my Green colleague Roderic O’Gorman and a range of Councillors from all parties.

The largest batch of motions were those on cycling so I’ll address those first.

One of the results of the public display of the draft plan was the receipt of a range of submissions criticising the inadequacy of the policies contained in the draft as regards cycling.These came from a range of parties, including the National Transport Authority which suggested that the policies in relation to cycling in the plan could be strengthened.

In response to these submissions, I submitted a range of proposed amendments, many of which were directly extracted from the National Cycle Policy Framework (NCPF), particularly the policies and actions identified in the Framework for implementation by local authorities.

In advising the Councillors on the motions submitted, the Council management first claimed that many of the motions submitted were invalid as they didn’t relate to submissions received. This label was applied to 15 of the 21 amendments which I proposed based on the NCPF. When I pointed out their origin this claim did not resurface.

When it came to the discussions, the first two cycling related motions were

  • to mark the cycle routes from the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan on the Development Plan maps the same as the other cycle routes already proposed
  • to provide safe routes to school as part of the process of identifying and procuring new school sites

It was a bit of a surprise that, unfortunately, the Planning Department opposed both of these. The majority of Councillors supported my motion to mark the GDA routes on the maps despite the official advice against it.

However they also opposed my proposal that safe walking and cycling routes would be provided to new schools  as part of the school development process and a slim majority of Councillors voted it down. The media, starting with the cycling journalism website, naturally took an interest in this and reported it the following week:,,

At the following meeting, the officials continued to oppose the cycling motions and a number of other important motions were defeated including a proposal to implement HGV management strategies in urban areas, a proposal to carry out remedial measures to existing cyclist unfriendly urban roads and a proposal to provide safe cycling and walking routes to existing schools during the lifetime of the plan including an audit of all schools. These motions were all based on the National Cycle Policy Framework adopted in 2009, but despite that the officials convinced a majority of Councillors to vote them down.

At a subsequent meeting, the media attention to the vote against safe routes to schools started to have an impact and my motions to provide cycle routes from Holywell, Portmarnock and Balgriffin to Kinsealy to serve the proposed new secondary school there and the existing primary schools were all successful. So overall, a mixture of good and bad news.



Proposed greenway style cycle route from Kettle’s Lane to Kinsealy via Abbeville


Proposed greenway style cycle route from Portmarnock to Kinsealy


Proposed greenway style cycle route from Balgriffin to Kinsealy

The amendments to the Draft Plan are on public display until 2nd December. At this stage they are only proposed amendments; they could be overturned following the consultation. So if you agree with any of the amendments, make sure to make a submission!

I’m still following up on the National Cycle Policy Framework (NCPF) issue. The media reports on the motion for safe routes to schools which was defeated, led to me learning from a member of the public of the existence of Planning Circular_pssp_8_2010_on NCPF_and_development_plans. This circular requires the Council to make the Development Plan consistent with the NCPF.

All of the cycling related motions had already been dealt with when I received the Circular but I immediately drew the attention of the next Council meeting dealing with the Development Plan to the obligations placed on the Council by the Circular. The Council officials were unwilling to recognise that the Circular had any significance to the process or to revisit the issues.

I have written to the Minister for Housing and Planning in relation to this.

Amendments to County Development Plan

Fingal County Council is currently preparing the County Development Plan to run from 2017 to 2023. The Draft Plan was on public display between February and April 2016 and a report on the over 900 responses received was supplied to Councillors at the end of July.

As Councillors we had until yesterday, 6th September, to draft proposals to amend the Plan based on the public consultation.  Those  amendments which the Council agrees to will go on public display in November.

I submitted amendments to a wide range of topics in the plan. A copy of my proposed amendments is here. In order to make them easy to navigate I have grouped them into the following topics:

  • On Special Amenity Area Order and Dublin Bay Biosphere Reserve
  • On cycle pedestrian routes to be added to the map
  • On public transport reservation from Clongriffin/Portmarnock – Balgriffin – Belcamp – Clonshaugh to metro reservations south of Dublin Airport
  • In relation to the Moyne Road bypass proposal based on discussions at the previous stage of the Development Plan and in response to submissions by the developer of the adjoining residentially zoned land and Portmarnock Community Association
  • On the zoning of the industrial estates beside Howth Junction railway station based on issues I raised at the previous stage of the Plan and a submission from a local business.
  • On the process for sub-county level plans based on the experience of Fingal councillors and citizens as well as submissions from public authorities including the National Transport Authority
  • Based on Fáilte Ireland’s submission
  • In relation to the circular economy and sustainable resource use
  • In response to the submission by Keep Ireland Open, Fáilte Ireland and others concerned with access to the countryside
  • Based on concerns about Fingal’s approach to open space in high density development, an issue raised both by developers and residents
  • On the transition to a low carbon climate resilient economy, a legal obligation of the Plan under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act and raised in a range of submissions
  • On adaptation to climate change
  • On Ecosystem Services Approach
  • Transport motions based on a range of submissions by local road users and public transport users and the NTA
  • Motion incorporating text from the Dublin City Development plan in relation to cycle parking as recommended by the submission from the National Transport Authority
  • In relation to cycling in response to a wide range of submissions seeking better and safer cycling insfrastructure.
  • Based on text in the National Cycling Policy Framework, to which some of the submissions refer.

Observation to Dublin Airport Authority on proposed removal of nighttime noise restrictions

Dublin Airport Authority carried out a consultation in relation to the Environmental Impact Assessment of a proposal to remove the conditions in a permission they received from An Bord Pleanála which would restrict night time flights in order to enable local residents to sleep soundly. Exactly how they would apply to make such a change has not been explained despite direct questions.

I made the following submission:

1. The public is entitled to know what sort of application DAA is apparently planning to make, especially if we are being consulted on it.
For many months now, residents and public representatives have been hearing that DAA will be applying to change the planning conditions. However, we have not, despite repeated requests been able to understand whether this is a planning application or some other form of application. My request under the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations directed at obtaining this information also failed to clarify it.
Some sort of legal stratagem is presumably being developed. The fact that the public is being asked to participate in a consultation process where relevant details of the overall decision-making process are apparently being withheld is worrying. This is particularly the case when it is the ability of local residents to live normal lives and get a proper night’s sleep that is at stake.
2. DAA should not assume that it will be legally possible to make an application of whatever unspecified form which would relate only to two conditions of its planning permission given the passage of time since the granting of that permission, the fact that it has not commenced work on the permission and the requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.
3. Analysis of aviation demand must take account of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically and rapidly in order to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system, as set out in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. Predictions of aviation demand must incorporate anticipated and necessary measures to reduce emissions including measures to control demand and measures which would change the makeup of the fleet using the airport.
4. DAA has misled itself in concluding that it is not subject to the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015.
5. Analysis of demand for night time take off and landing must set out the degree to which this is stimulated or discouraged by pricing as well as the degree to which it results from measures taken at airports elsewhere to protect their neighbours from night time noise.
6. Alternatives examined should include the use of other airports in Ireland as well as technical alternatives, alternative modes of transport, and alternatives to transport.

Submission in relation to identifying Balscadden Beach as a bathing area

Fingal County Council, as required by EU regulation, consulted the public to identify locations where large numbers of people swim, so that the water quality at these locations can be tested.

Friends of Balscadden Bay made a detailed submission. I made the following brief submission:

Balscadden Beach is a historical swimming area in Howth.

It is heavily used by both local residents and visitors.

For the last two summers, at the request of local residents, Fingal County Council has sampled water quality at the beach and found it to be excellent on every occasion sampled.

Local swimmers use the beach every day throughout the year. Naturally it is particularly busy during good weather in the summer.

The beach previously had Victorian bathing cabins and has been visited by daytrippers from Dublin since the railway started in the mid-19th Century.

It is accessed by a public right of way from Balscadden road along steps provided by Dublin Corporation when Howth was within its jurisdiction. It is accessible by public transport (31 bus and Dart) and is near public car parking and toilets at the East Pier.

There is an organised swim and barbeque every summer by Friends of Balscadden Bay. This year, that will take place from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday 7th August.

There is also a long-standing traditional Christmas swim.

I attach some postcards/photographs covering the period from the late 19th century to July 2016. I took the most recent photograph myself.

1 balscadden postcard bw $_57 balscadden waterskiing  cleaning Balscadden Bay (FOBB)_1201Balscadden Bay Howth Saturday 16 July 2016

Fingal to join Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, and to draft common Climate Change Strategy with other 3 Dublin Councils

Councillors from all areas of Fingal and all parties have emphasised the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from Fingal and adapting to climate change. We included relevant  objectives in the draft Development Plan which was on display earlier this year and had good in depth discussions at the Planning Strategic Policy Committee.

At the July meeting the Council decided unanimously to join the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and to prepare a common Climate Change Strategy together with Dublin City, South Dublin, and Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown.

Details are in the report approved by the Council below:

Continue reading

Where do you swim? Public Participation in the Identification of Bathing Waters

Under the Bathing Waters Directive and the Bathing Water Quality Regulations 2008 (SI No 79 of 2008) Fingal County Council must identify official bathing areas in our administrative area every year so that they can be monitored for safety, water quality and their level of use.

To help with this process, Fingal County Council is now asking people who swim at beaches and rivers to tell us if they think we should maintain the existing list of identified bathing waters and/or identifying any areas that are commonly used for swimming but not listed at the moment.

Among the popular swimming areas in Howth / Malahide Ward not currently recognised and tested as bathing waters are Balscadden Beach  in Howth and High Rock and Low Rock in Malahide. If you swim at these locations, please let the Council know.

To propose the Council recognise any well used beach not currently on the list or comment on an existing site please go to .

Meanwhile the occasional tests carried out by the Council at Balscadden and Ireland’s Eye happened again at the end of June. Both locations were identified as having excellent water quality. See results below.

Location Sampling Point Sample Number E. coli Enterococci Floating Materials Mineral Oil (visual) pH Phenols_Olfactory Salinity Surfactants Visual Inspection
MPN/100ml CFU/100ml pH PSU
(49934)  Balscadden Bay 27/06/2016  08:30 1163999 <10 <1 Absent Absent 8.1 Absent 33.4 Absent Normal
(49935)  Ireland’s Eye 27/06/2016  09:30 1164000 <10 <1 Absent Absent 8.1 Absent 33.5 Absent Normal