An Taisce notes the An Bord Pleanála decision on the Trading Hub outside of Athlone

1st May 2012
Press Release

An Taisce notes the An Bord Pleanala decision to grant permission to the Athlone Trading Hub.

This is the first stage of a proposal of staggering size and scale that the promoters claim will be the greatest commercial and trade centre in Europe.

An Taisce believes that the vague nature of the planning conditions attached to development and the lack of global consideration of sustainability by An Bord Pleanála is a serious concern.

Transport

While the planning appeals board has asked for coach services from Dublin Airport and Athlone town centre to be provided, the Board, in a serious omission, has not stated the minimum frequency. This is left to be resolved between Westmeath County Council and the developer. The clear risk is that the bus timetable will be unattractive and ultimately the service will become tokenistic. In its appeal, An Taisce stressed the need for frequent public transport to the site.

Completion Bond

Equally problematic is the fact that the planning Inspector and the Board ruled that the viability of this speculative scheme was not a matter for consideration. An Taisce believes that this is a serious misjudgement. The amount of the bond to be submitted to the local council is left unstated. This is the money that may be needed to complete or convert the buildings in the event this speculative development fails. As Ireland knows from bitter experience, this poses a real risk - but it's a risk that is still not being considered by our planning appeals board.

Stability of energy and climate systems

Both the planning inspector and the Board disagreed with An Taisce and declined to consider the negative energy and climate impacts of the proposed development.

Just last week the International Energy Agency told Governments that "the world's energy system is being pushed to breaking point", and the agency robustly criticised governments for allowing "our addiction to fossil fuels to grow stronger each year".

Oil prices today continue to remain at near record levels - with a major impact on our society and economy. The 'Era of Cheap Oil is Over'. Yet, in raising levels of resource consumption and energy use, this proposal makes a very bad situation worse and An Taisce believes that An Bord Pleanála must weigh the International Energy Agency’s concerns as a key consideration in planning and development.

A low carbon future

An Taisce strongly believes that Ireland's long-term future is low-carbon and far more local. An Taisce will continue to work towards that future and invites those who share this perspective to join and support it.

ENDS

Charles Stanley-Smith, An Taisce Communications, 0872411995

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