Monthly Archives: November 2006

Greens demand firm action over damage to Howth tramway

Green Councillor David Healy welcomed the proposals to erect barriers to prevent unauthorised access to the Howth tramway.  

Since September, the tramway has been turned to muck by a builder using it to gain access to a construction site.

Cllr. Healy today showed photos of the damage done to the tramway at the Area Cttee meeting in Baldoyle commenting:

“ The Council must ensure that those responsible pay for the repair of the damage to the tramway, which is a treasured amenity for Howth residents and visitors alike.  The action of the builder in simply digging up and throwing aside the bollard which prevented him driving his digger on the tramway is shocking.  It is disgraceful that we now have to spend public money to put up barriers to deal with this anti-social attitude to public space.”

Further information: David Healy 087 6178852
Howth Tramway, 16th November 2006

My comments in response to consultation on micro-generation by Commission on Energy Regulation

As described in the Greenpeace film, What Are We Waiting For? the sustainable renewables-based electricity system which we will have to convert to will almost certainly be based on decentralised generation.  Logically, local government should have a significant role in this, as it already does in many countries. 

In order to facilitate the move to decentralised generation, the
electricity grid will have to work differently.  If you generate
electricity from solar panels or a small wind turbine, you will at
times generate more than you can use.  You should be able to sell it
into the grid, running your meter backwards.  Unfortunately, you can’t
do that in Ireland at the moment.  Below is my submission to the CER in
response to their recent consultation on micro-generation

From: David Healy / Daithí Ó hÉalaithe []
Sent: 10 November 2006 15:26
To: ‘’; ‘’
Subject: Comments on Micro-generation consultation

Paul, a chara,

I am writing as Chair of the Energy Action Team of Fingal County Council (and also as Chair of the Environment Strategic Policy Committee in Fingal County Council).

I have just heard of this consultation and therefore have not had an opportunity to put this before the full Development Board or SPC.  Therefore the views expressed below are my own, although I’m not aware of any contrary views in either organisation.

Fingal Development Board has set up an Energy Action team which is looking at the area both within the County Council and within the County as a whole.

Micro-generation is capable of playing, and, with the right regulatory conditions, likely to play a significant role in meeting Fingal’s energy needs.  In the interests of sustainable development and in particular reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and energy security, we hope to encourage micro-generation.  The appropriate incentives and institutional frameworks in the energy sector are essential. 

The consultation document unfortunately, proposes an instutional framework would would act as a disincentive to micro-generation.  I feel that this is directly contrary to the stated intention of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing energy security.  Net metering should be the minimum offer to micro-generation.

Is mise, le meas,

David Healy

Councillor David Healy
Green Party/Comhaontas Glas
Howth ward / Dublin North East
01 8324087
54, Páirc Éabhóra, Beann Éadair
54, Evora Park, Howth

Objection to development at Thormanby Woods

I have submitted the attached observation to Fingal County Council in relation to Borg Developments application F06A/1484.

Councillor David Healy
Green Party/Comhaontas Glas
Howth ward / Dublin North East
01 8324087
54, Páirc Éabhóra,
Beann Éadair, Co. Bh.Á.C
54, Evora Park,
Howth, Co. Dublin


                            15th November 2006

Planning Department,
Fingal County Council,
Main St.,
Co. Dublin

By hand

Re: Application F06A/1484

A chairde,

I would like to make the following observations on the above application

1.    Visual impact and character of area

The site is in the Special Amenity Area Buffer Zone.  Other development in this vicinity has correctly been kept at a low level, mostly single storey.  The proposal for very large two-storey houses spread evenly across the site is entirely out of keeping with the character of the area and the existing pattern of development.  The designated protection of the Buffer Zone is intended to protect the character of the area as well as views to and from the Special Amenity Area proper.  The proposed development by virtue of its size and intrusive nature is not in keeping with these objectives. In particular, the importance of the tramway as an amenity route to the Special Amenity Area is recognised in the SAAO.  Views from the tramway are therefore of particular importance.

2.    Biodiversity

The site is one of significant biodiversity value, containing woodland and important wildlife corridors, including for bats (which are legally protected).  Development of low density housing is not incompatible with maintenance of biodiversity value provided that sufficient appropriate and interlinked planting is carried out, and existing woodlands and hedgerows are retained, improved and connected as needed. Unfortunately the current plan seems to envisage considerable enclosure on the site in such a manner as would disrupt wildlife movement.

3.    Drainage and hydrology

The development is proposed to be located in a damp hollow which acts as a reservoir at the head of Gray’s Brook which drains the valley around it, flowing down through the town of Howth under Main St. and Abbey St.  Interference with this hydrological regime could cause flooding locally and/or downstream.  The Council must ensure that this development is not allowed to have negative impacts.  There is a further issue here in that the wetness of the area undoubtedly contributes to its biodiversity value.  Therefore solutions which would seek to drain the woodlands and adjoining areas should not be contemplated.  These considerations argue towards clustering of the development on the site (together with dedication or sterilisation of the remaining land).

4.    Water supply

The existing water supply in the area is inadequate, with generalised low pressure leading to frequent complete loss of supply on the upper stretches of Thormanby Road and adjacent areas.  Adequacy of water supply should be a central consideration in deciding on a planning application.  The Council is entirely aware of the inadequacy of the water supply in this area.  Extra houses will add significantly to the demand on an already inadequate supply.  Further development in this area is therefore premature until such time as the necessary water supply is made available

5.    Traffic

The entrance to the site is between two dangerous bends and would increase traffic hazard at this location.

6.    Rights of way

There are rights of way in the area and through the woods which would be interfered with by the proposed development

7.    Conclusions

In conclusion, while some of the issues above are capable of being addressed by further information request or condition, I feel that the development as a whole is of over-sized houses and fails to comply with many of the planning objectives for the area as set out in the County Development Plan and the Special Area Amenity Order.  Additionally, the lack of an adequate water supply and the effect the development would have on the users of the existing supply means the development is premature Therefore permission should be refused for the applicant to come back with a proposal more in keeping with the area and the planning objectives for the area, after an adequate water supply has been made available.

I enclose the €20 fee.

Is mise, le meas,
Cllr. David Healy

Techcrete to leave Howth

Techcrete will be moving from Howth to Balbriggan within 3 years.  They have been an important part of Howth for many years and their departure will be a big change for the area. Their large site beside Howth Dart Station has a Suburban Centre zoning.  This means that it must be developed as a mixed development, not just expensive housing.  It is also part of the area planned for an Urban Centre Strategy for Howth.  This strategy would work out the general form for development on this site.  It is essential that the Council start to develop this strategy as a matter of urgency.  This will solidify the mixed use zoning and ensure that the development of the site is of benefit to the local community.  I will be raising this at Monday’s Council meeting. Background:
On next Monday’s Council agenda (13th November) is the sale by the Council of a 15 acre site at Stephenstown Industrial Park, Balbriggan to Techcrete Holdings Ltd, Dublin Road, Howth. 

The details of the sale of the Balbriggan site are as follows:
The sale is of a 250 year leasehold and provides for the development of
the site in Balbriggan for the production of pre cast concrete
components and associated uses.  Techcrete must make their application
for planning permission by 13th May 2007 and start work within 3 months
of grant of permission.  Development must be completed within 3 years
of the Council’s decision to dispose of the site.

Further information: Cllr. David Healy 087 6178852, 01 8324087

Howth Promenade Renovation

A "Village Improvement Scheme" for works on Howth Promenade is on display here and in Howth and Baldoyle Libraries.  The Howth Sutton Community Council is making suggestions to the Parks Department.  As part of that process, 4 members of the Community Council including myself went on site visits along the Dart line last week to have a look at recent renovations and street furniture along the coast.  The report (lots of photos) is below. Notes from site visits to IFSC, Liffey Campshires, Bray,  Dún Laoghaire Pier and Newtownsmith promenade, and associated discussions.

Priority – Very High
    Facing alternate or both directions
    Picnic Tables near yacht club
    Comfort (wood)

We saw various types and comment on the inserted photos below

IFSC, unwelcoming unfriendly bench.

Bench on Campshires.  Good shape, length suits location, metal so uncomfortable temperature range.  Attractive light standards

Bray, cast iron backrest added to promenade wall.  Very large and intrusive light standards

Newtownsmith, light standards (very close together!) and bench.

Newtownsmith, bench.  Varnished section showing up graffiti much more than weathered section. Lack of detailing around base of bench.

Dún Laoghaire, simple traditional bench

Dún Laoghaire Harbour, modern style bench.  Yellowish paving slabs looking very dirty and stained.

Priority – Very High
don’t need to be very strong, need to mark the pathway.  Investigate Solar powered LED lights,

We saw various types and comment on the inserted photos. See Bray and Newtownsmith lights with bench photos above.

Priority – Very High
    Enough bins/big enough
    Additional bins near to litter-generating businesses
    Weather well
    Sited near but not too near benches/seats
    Separate collection of recyclables (aluminium cans, plastic bottles)

Campshires, bin.  We thought this was attractive.

Bray, bin.  We thought this was ugly.

New Paths
Priority – Very High
Path to Beach.
Path to playground, where a desire line has been worn across the grass from the pedestrian crossing beside the car park.

Priority – High
While the proposal is for only sycamores, we would like more striking and interesting trees.

Dún Laoghaire Harbour, palm trees

Landscaping plan for the grass/beds area
Priority – High
We felt that the landscaping plan needs to be worked out.  There are many existing elements of the promenade which are now derelict or no longer properly maintained.  Many are probably not even fully understood and their purposes are not clear.  The promenade has various sections and should be analysed and planned as such.  The existing neglected planting includes Hebe Howth Purple.  Previously there were vigorous stand of pampas grass.

Priority – High (but not urgent)
We saw a variety of sculptures.  Some were major additions to their locations.  We felt a good sculpture could have a much bigger positive impact than resurfacing of walls or paths.

Newtownsmith, sculpture.  By far the finest sculpture we saw.  Also different coloured concrete (yellow and pink) and cobble detailing.

Newtownsmith, sculpture.

Newtownsmith, sculpture


IFSC, fountain

Priority- Average
We felt that a bandstand also might be a better addition than resurfacing, especially wall resurfacing.

Bray, Bandstand

Dún Laoghaire Pier, Bandstand (under renovation)

Path resurfacing
Priority – Average
We are concerned about the relative cost of this element which might prevent expenditure on other elements of the renewal.
We saw a variety of different surfaces, some of which were very attractive.
We would like to see an instance of the proposed surface where it is in situ for a few years to get an idea of how it weathers and also how it deals with gum and cleaning.

We also noted the importance of the edge detailing to paths and felt that this would be an important element in Howth.  Also this edging (rougher stones or cobbles) should then be used as the surface underneath seats, bins etc.

Campshires, Attractive stone section, LED(?) lights marking the line, detailing with cobbles, curved granite blocks for edging.

Campshires,  attractive mixture of paving materials, great attention to detail and quality craftmanship.

Newtownsmith, coloured concrete, cobble detailing between concrete sections.  Note how people walk along on the curb where the grass starts and have killed the grass at this location.

Dún Laoghaire East Pier, new surface, very attractive, smooth with pebbles and shells.

Dún Laoghaire East Pier, new surface, seen from a distance

Dún Laoghaire East Pier, new surface at lower level

Post and rail removal and replacement

Priority – Low to Average

The options are as follows

  1.     Maintain status quo
  2.     Replace with step as in proposal
  3.     Remove and mark the boundary with cobble or similar edging
  4.     Replace with low stones as on campshires

We feel the step would be an impediment to the mobility impaired and a trip hazard.   It would also lead to people walking along the top of the step and thereby killing the adjacent grass as happens in Newtownsmith (see photo above).  We are not convinced that there is a need to physically obstruct cars from driving across the footpath onto the grass as this never happens on the grassed area at the Dart Station/West Pier.

Edge made of low granite blocks, Campshires

Wall resurfacing
Priority – Low
We would like to see an instance of the proposed surface where it is in situ for a few years to get an idea of how it weathers and also how it deals with gum and cleaning.  We feel that the existing wall might be better improved by drawing attention away from it with other features or by contrasting decorations to it which will minimise attention to it’s plain concrete surface.

Details on Borg Planning Application on Thormanby Road.

The application was submitted on 12th October.  The final deadline for submissions from the public is one day less than 5 weeks later, therefore Wednesday 15th November.  Submissions/objections must be accompanied by €20 and include the  reference number of the application (F06A/1484), the name and address of the person(s) making the submission, and the grounds of objection or other comments.  When you get a formal acknowledgement from the Council, you must keep it in order to be able to appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

There will be an Area Committee meeting on Thursday 16th November at 3pm in Baldoyle Library.  I will be listing the file for that meeting for discussion with the planners.  The meeting is open to the public.  Note however, that the planners will not reveal their intentions in relation to the file.
The details of the application:

F06A/1484    12-Oct-2006    
    Applicant:Borg Developments 15 Hogan Place, Grand Canal Street, Dublin 2
    Location:    Thormanby Road, Howth, Dublin 13
    Proposed Development:    Development comprising 19 no. two storey (5 bedroom) detached dwelling units, each with individual single storey detached garages, landscape treatment and on curtilage car-parking; a single storey management office of c.43 sq.m.;  1 no. ESB substation unit of c.19 sq.m.;  vehicular access to serve the proposed development via a new access off Thormanby Road;  site development and landscape works;  all on a site of c.6.4 Ha (c.15.7 acres).

The case of the Nevitt Anti-Dump Group (Accountability and Democracy Pt.III)

One of the chronic problems in local government iin Ireland is that when the officials don’t want to do something they simply declare it to be illegal.

The group opposing the proposed dump at the Nevitt asked the Council to fund the technical expertise that they had to employ to engage with this €50million+ proposal.  We feel that this is essential to give meaning to the right to public participation in environmental decisions recognised in the Aarhus Convention.  The Manager is claiming it would be illegal, but isn’t giving any reason why. The Greens proposed that they be funded at the last monthly Council
meeting.  The Manager asserted it was illegal.  So for next Monday’s
meeting, we have identified the elements in the legislation which
specifically empower the Councillors to recognise and fund the group. 
The response, as before, is a simple assertion, describing itself as
legal advice, that "the Nevitt-Lusk Anti-Dump Group do not fall within
the category of body
which under Section 128 of the Local Government Act 2001, the local
authority can declare to be a recognised association"  There is no
explanation as to why this is claimed to be so.  Nor, on past record,
will the law agent attend the Council meeting to explain her advice.

Copy of letter circulated to Councillors, followed by extract from Local Government Act 2001
When phoning or calling please ask for Ms Mary Crealey ext: 5500
Our Ref:         “MC” LAW
Your Ref:      

Pat Keane
County Manager
County Hall

7th November 2006

Re:      Proposed Motion for Council Meeting 13th November 2006

Dear Pat,

I refer to the following proposed motion for the above meeting:

“ That Fingal County Council declares the Nevitt-Lusk Anti-Dump Group to be a recognised association for the purpose of S.128 of the Local Government Act 2001 and resolves under S.128 (2)(b) to provide assistance in money in the amount of €30,000 to the Nevitt-Lusk Anti-Dump Group to meet their legitimate costs incurred in obtaining specialist advice and representation in order to engage with the various consent processes for the proposed dump at the Nevitt as assessed by an independent assessor”.

The Council are currently seeking to provide a new landfill at Tooman/Nevitt  North County Dublin in accordance with the Waste Management Plan for the Dublin Region 2005-2010 and have recently been involved in an oral hearing in relation to the landfill.  Individual members of the Nevitt-Lusk Anti-Dump Group lodged objections to the landfill project with An Bord Pleanala and were represented at the oral hearing.  There has been no decision by An Bord Pleanala in relation to the new landfill as yet.  When there is a decision, the Board has a discretion in relation to the payment of costs.  This is a statutory process and the local authority has not got discretion to pay any costs and expenses of persons involved in the process without an order of the Board.

In these circumstances the Nevitt-Lusk Anti-Dump Group do not fall within the category of body which under Section 128 of the Local Government Act 2001, the local authority can declare to be a recognised association for the purposes of that section.

If a resolution were passed declaring the Nevitt-Lusk Anti-Dump Group to be a recognised association for the purposes of Section 128 of the Local Government Act 2001, such a resolution would be illegal and any payment made under Section 128 of the 2001 Act would also be illegal and the Manager would be liable to surcharge on foot of such payment.  Furthermore, if a Section 140 motion were to be passed by the Council authorising payment to the Nevitt-Lusk Anti-Dump Group in relation to their involvement in the above matter, this would also be illegal and all those who voted in favour of the motion would also be liable to be surcharged.

Yours faithfully,


Mary Crealey

Law Agent

cc. Dick Brady, Head of Corporate Affairs

Extract from Local Government Act, 2001

Recognised associations.

128.—(1) A local authority may declare that any body, whether
corporate or unincorporate, be a recognised association for the
purposes of this section where the local authority is of the opinion
that the body is concerned with promoting the interests of the local
community, or any part of or group within the local community, or of
all or a part of the administrative area of that local authority.

(2) A local authority may—

              (a) consult a recognised association on any relevant matter,
              (b) provide assistance in money or in kind to such association,
              (c) make arrangements with a recognised association under section 13(6) of the Roads Act, 1993, or Chapter 4 of Part 9
              (d) enter into an agreement in
              writing with a recognised association for the carrying out by the
              association on behalf of the local authority of certain functions of
              the authority which in its opinion may be satisfactorily carried out by
              the recognised association, subject to such terms, conditions,
              restrictions and other requirements as the authority considers
              necessary and specifies in the agreement.

(3) Subsection (2)(d) does not apply in respect of a reserved function, the function to make arrangements under section 13(6) of the Roads Act, 1993, or Chapter 4 of Part 9 or any other function as the Minister may prescribe by regulations.

(4) Any works or other thing carried out or done by a recognised
association in good faith as a result of an agreement made under subsection (2)(d)
and in accordance with every requirement of such agreement shall be
regarded as if the works or other thing was duly authorised, carried
out or done by the local authority.

(5) For the purposes of subsections (1) and (2), a local authority may have regard as to whether in its opinion—

              (a) a body is properly constituted and representative,
              (b) adequate financial and accounting arrangements are in place, and
              (c) the body is in a position
              to comply with such requirements as the local authority may in all the
              circumstances of the case consider necessary and reasonable for such

(6) A declaration under subsection (1) is a reserved function.

(7) The Minister may by regulations prescribe such matters relating to
recognised associations as he or she considers appropriate for the
purpose of giving effect to this section including the procedures to be
followed for the termination of an agreement under subsection (2)(d).

Kingspan Century calls on Minister Roche to follow Fingal County Council (Press Release)

Kingspan Century, Europe’s largest timber frame home manufacturer,
today called on the Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche TD, to
follow the lead of Fingal County Council and force the construction
industry to design greener homes. Press Release

Wednesday, November 1st 2006.

Kingspan Century Chief Executive Gerry McCaughey said: "The energy efficiency standards in the Irish building regulations are joke, and the full impact of climate change, as outlined in the British Government’s Stern report, should bring the Irish Government to its senses."

"Already this week EU Environment Commissioner Dimas has severely criticised the Irish Government’s very poor performance on reaching our targets under the Kyoto Protocol," he added.

"For years the Government has knowingly allowed hundreds of thousands of homes to be built to low energy efficiency standards, and the ridiculous situation still exists that different energy standards apply to different methods of construction," he said.

"The Government is so out of touch with this issue that it has been bypassed by a local authority. We now have the ridiculous situation where the energy standards set by Fingal County Council are, in some cases, three times higher than the national standard," said McCaughey.

"You can see there is a total lack of political will by the Government on the issue when a pioneering move by a small number of Green Party councillors on Fingal County Council has made their energy efficiency standards much more superior to the National Standards."

"The political leadership shown by Fingal Country Council is causing a mini-revolution at local authority level and councils want to follow the example, but are receiving little support or encouragement from the Government," he said.

"Minister Roche should also look to Britain, where Housing Minister Yvette Cooper is considering radical policy initiatives including:
regulations to require planners and builders to take account of climate change, as well as, tough new planning guidelines which will require large housing estates to be sustainable, and, in the long term, carbon neutral," he concluded.

Kingspan Century was established in 1990. It is the biggest timber-frame manufacturing company in Europe. The company currently employs 500 in total in plants in Dungarvan, Monaghan, Longford, Cardiff, Newcastle and a sales and engineering office in London. Kingspan Century is part of the Kingspan Group PLC. < >