Nan and Patsy Duncan, Drumcliff, who celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary last week, pictured with family members. Front: Catherine and Mary McCauley, Patsy & Nan Duncan, Kayt, Annya and Duncan O’Rourke. Back: Hugh, Pamela, Paul Gerard, Rory, Carolyn Duncan, Alistair McCauley and Paul Duncan
Six objections to Mart at Tullyearl
‘Proposed facility would endanger public safety’
The committee and shareholders of the Livestock Mart must be disappointed at the news that the National Roads Authority (NRA) has lodged an objection with Donegal County Council against the replacement mart proposed by Bennett Developments Limited at Tullygallan, next to the Tullyearl Roundabout.
The Dublin based organisation whose function ‘is to secure the provision of a safe and efficient network of national roads’ has argued in its submissions to the Council that the proposed development would generate additional traffic movements on the N15 National Primary Route and therefore endanger public safety; would be contrary to National Roads Policy which seeks to protect the level of service and carrying capacity of the National Route; and would adversely affect the use of the National Road by traffic.
The NRA objection is one of six that has been lodged with the Council against the proposed mart, with others being lodged by: Mr Paul Duncan of Ballydevitt Beg, Donegal Town; Ambrose Harron, Tullyearl, Donegal Town; Mr Diarmuid P Barry of DP Barry & Co Solicitors, Donegal Town; Kildare based solicitor, Mr John Reidy of Reidy Stafford Solicitors; and Edinburgh based Planning Consultants Derek Scott Planning on behalf of Keeney Construction Limited.
Kildare based solicitor, Mr John Reidy who has significant land and development interests in Donegal Town has lodged a 150 page objection letter with Donegal County Council against the proposed livestock mart at Tullyearl, by Bennett Developments Limited.
In a comprehensive submission received by the Council last week, Mr Reidy refers to Bennett’s Planning Consultant, Mr Jim Harley who is a former Senior Planner with Donegal County Council; and Mrs Bernie Mulhern, present chairperson of the Donegal Town Community Chamber for comments they made on planning applications submitted by Keeney Construction Limited for the erection of replacement livestock marts at various locations around the town.
Mr Reidy highlights that it was Mr Harley in his capacity as former Senior Planner with Donegal County Council who recommended the refusal of a planning application by Keeney Construction Limited and the Donegal Co-Operative Livestock Mart Limited for the erection of a replacement mart on lands adjoining the Bennett site on grounds relating to public safety and roads policy. Mr Reidy has argued that the reasons for the refusal of that application as recommended by Mr Harley ‘are equally as applicable to the Bennett application in 2007 as they were to the Keeney Construction Limited/Donegal Co-Operative Livestock Mart Limited application in 2005.’
The Kildare based solicitor has also queried claims made by Mr Harley in a statement submitted with the planning application, that the mart should be catagorised as an industrial development employing more than thirty persons which Mr Harley claims would allow it to be accessed off the National Road in compliance with the County Donegal Development Plan.
Mr Reidy in response has argued that the livestock mart whose principal purpose is for the trading of livestock could ‘by no stretch of the imagination be described as an industrial use.’ He has also stated that it is nothing short of remarkable how a mart with an identical capacity in terms of cattle numbers could, in 2004, be forecast by Keeney Construction Limited and the Donegal Co-Operative Livestock Mart to create between 10 and 15 part jobs but in 2007 could be forecast by the Secretary of the Mart Society, Mr Seamus Carbin to create 31 jobs.
Mr Reidy has included in his submissions to the Council a copy of a letter written by Mr Harley in his former capacity as Acting Director of Planning Services in Donegal County Council to which is attached a report rejecting a request by Bennett Construction Limited to have the site at Tullygallan designated as an industrial centre/enterprise park in the Donegal Town Local Area Plan.
The Report stated that ‘the site is too far from the town to be included in the plan boundary and the extension of the town limits would result in the zoning of significant tracks of land which would not be serviceable nor sustainable. Furthermore the NRA have identified in their submissions that the carrying capacity and safety of National roads should be protected and new access or the intensification of existing entrances onto national roads outside the speed limit area should be prohibited.’
Mr Reidy claims that it is ironic that Mr Harley in his current capacity as agent to Bennett Developments argues that the proposed livestock mart is an industrial development and should be granted planning permission whereas in his former capacity with the County Council forwarded a report to the elected members which argued the complete opposite.
Mr Reidy has also included in support of his objection to the proposed mart copies of objections which had been submitted by the present Chairperson of the Community Chamber Mrs Bernie Mulhern and Mart Committee member, Mr Gerry Mulhern to marts at Ardlenagh/Lurganboy and Tullyearl/Tullymornin which had been proposed in 2004 by Keeney Construction Limited.
Mr Reidy makes reference to a parking study undertaken on behalf of the Mulherns at a calf weaning sale in October 2004 at which it was claimed there were 298 vehicles present. Mr and Mrs Mulhern had used the study is support of their opposition to a mart at Ardlenagh/Lurganboy. Mr Reidy expresses disappointment that Bennett’s traffic consultants have failed to demonstrate how the proposed mart at Tullygallan could accommodate this number of vehicles without spilling over onto the N15 National Primary Road.
Mr Reidy also draws attention to another letter written by Mr and Mrs Mulhern in March 2005 within which they objected to an application for a mart at Tullyearl by Keeney Construction Limited and the Donegal Co-operative Livestock Mart Limited. Mr and Mrs Mulhern made reference in that letter to their membership of the Tullyearl Action Group who campaigned for a roundabout to replace the notorious junction and advised that it would be ‘grossly irresponsible for the Council to grant permission for a livestock mart adjacent to the new roundabout.’
Mr Reidy claims that the comments made by Mr and Mrs Mulhern are as applicable to the planning application by Bennett Developments Limited as they were to the earlier application by Keeney Construction Limited and the Donegal Co-Operative Livestock Mart Limited.
Although Mr and Mrs Mulhern have not objected to the current application by Bennett Developments Limited Mr Reidy’s revelations about their objections to other applications will cause huge embarrassment to the Community Chamber and to Mrs Mulhern who since her appointment to the Chair of the Chamber has been an outspoken critique of other objectors to planning applications in the town.
Mr Reidy has also raised significant queries in his letter relating to the viability of the proposed mart at Tullygallan and questions its economic viability. He claims that the failure to produce a business plan in association with the application ‘could hide the fact that the proposed livestock mart is a white elephant representing a passport to an alternative form of development such as the industrial centre/enterprise park referred to in the representations submitted to the Council on the Donegal Town Local Area Plan.’ He has also queried if there is a contractual agreement in place between Bennett Developments Limited and the Mart Society and asks for an explanation as to why the society’s requirements for new mart have changed from a 23,000 sq ft facility in 2004 to a 54,000 sq ft facility in 2007.
An Executive Engineer in the Council’s National Roads Design Office, Mr Rodney Irwin is also criticised in the Kildare based solicitor’s letter for what Mr Reidy describes as his ‘wholly inconsistent approach in his assessment of the respective proposals’ by Keeney Construction Limited and Bennett Developments Limited. Mr Irwin had previously recommended the refusal of the Keeney application for a mart at Tullyearl in 2004 but has since then suggested that the Bennett application may be acceptable. However, Mr Irwin has qualified this in a letter to Mart Secretary Mr Carbin by stating that his positive stance is subject to ‘NRA approval almost certainly being required before a private access could be granted by Donegal County Council.’ Mr Reidy has latched onto this point like a dog to the bone and as no such approval has been granted by the NRA he concludes that anything but a decision to refuse the application would be ‘utterly scandalous and irresponsible of the Council.’
The Council are due to make a decision on the application before the 12th July 2007.
Keeney Construction keeps door open for mart to relocate to Ardlenagh
Keeney Construction Limited has confirmed to Donegal County Council and the Donegal Co-operative Livestock Mart Limited that in the event of Bennett Developments Limited being refused planning permission for the erection of a new mart at Tullygallan its site at Ardlenagh/Lurganboy which already has planning permission for a new mart can be made available to the Society subject to both parties agreeing terms.
In a letter issued to Secretary of the Mart Society, Mr Seamus Carbin on 19th June 2007, Danny Keeney has advised the Society that his company has approximately 12 acres of land in its ownership at Ardlenagh within which they can comfortably accommodate the Society’s requirements for the new mart.
Mr Keeney has also refuted suggestions made by Mr Carbin in the 11th April 2007 edition of the Donegal Times that the site at Ardlenagh was never offered to the Society by his company as a potential location for a new mart. He refers to a letter which was sent to the Mart’s Solicitor, F Gallagher and Co on 07th April 2005 making such an offer. Mr Gallagher of F Gallagher and Co subsequently responded to this letter on 22nd April 2005 stating that ‘the Mart Society were not interested in relocating to Ardlenagh.’ Keeney has now asked Mr Carbin to confirm the date when the Committee put this proposal to the Mart Members. The entire community eagerly awaits Mr Carbin’s response.