1 - Economic Development and Planning Policy

Minutes of Strategic Policy Committee 1 (Economic Development and Planning Policy) of Sligo County Council held at 3.30 p.m. on Thursday the 17th February, 2006 in the Training Room, Riverside, Sligo


  • T. McLoughlin,
  • P. Barry,
  • S. Kilgannon,
  • J Devins
  • Phil Tuohy, Aclare Development Association
  • Michael Keenan, Keenan Construction Ltd


  • P. Forkan, Director of Services
  • D. Clarke, Director of Services
  • B. Carolan, Senior Planner
  • D. Breen, Senior Executive Officer
  • R. Morrissey, Assistant Scientist
  • M Hegarty, Administrative Officer
  • J McNamara, Administrative Officer
  • D Finnegan, Clerical Officer
  • S Moore, Clerical Officer


  • A. Colleary,
  • D. Healy McGowan,
  • S. McManus
  • G Healy, Chamber of Commerce
  • N. O’Driscoll, Ballisodare Community Council


  • The Chairperson, Cllr. T McLoughlin, presided.


Proposed: Cllr. Patsy Barry
Seconded: Cllr. S. Kilgannon


“That the minutes of the Strategic Policy Committee No. 1 Meeting held on the 8th December 2005 be confirmed”.


No matters were raised under this heading


Progress Report on the County and Group Broadband Scheme

D. Clarke introduced Paddy Birch, Regional Director of the County & Group Broadband Scheme, who gave a presentation on the progress on the scheme. He outlined that the scheme was administered by the Dept. of Communication, Marine & Natural Resources.  P. Birch stated that the purpose of the scheme is to promote the development of broadband services in small towns, villages and rural communities and to eliminate digital divide between large urban centres and rural or isolated communities by subsidising set up costs. The scheme targeted villages, rural groups etc. with a population of less than 1,500.

P. Birch informed the members that Eircom has rolled out its Adsl broadband services in Aclare, Collooney, Riverstown, Rathedmond, Sligo, Tubbercurry and Digiweb received the contract for a fixed wireless service in Tubbercurry and in Collooney/Ballygawley. Fastcom are the service providers in Strandhill, Ransboro, Ballisodare and surrounding area. P. Birch indicated that the Dept. of Communication, Marine & Natural Resources had announced a further call of the scheme which would be available in a matter of weeks to help bring broadband to low populated areas and more remote parts of Sligo.

P. Birch outlined the local authority’s responsibility in relation to C&GBS as follows:

  • Promote take-up of C&GBS and liaise with community groups
  • Provide support to the Regional Co-ordinator
  • Key player in the provision of MANs facility
  • Identify areas in need of a broadband scheme

Mr. Birch thanked the staff of Sligo County Council for facilitating the launch and their support in the roll out of the scheme. Cllr. S. Kilgannon asked what percentage of the cost was covered by the Dept. of Communication, Marine & Natural Resources to which P. Birch replied 55%.

Cllr. T. McLoughlin thanked P. Birch for his informative presentation.

• To note the Forfás Report: Benchmarking Ireland’s Broadband Performance

This report was previously circulated to SPC members. D. Clarke highlighted from the report that Ireland continues to be outperformed by other countries in terms of broadband up-take. The following key areas were identified in the report as reasons why Ireland is behind in Broadband Performance:

  • The national DSL availability in Ireland is the second lowest in the EU (15).
  • Lack of competition from broadband service providers
  • PC penetration rates are among the lowest in the EU(15)
  • Need for literacy to utilisation across all teaching subjects
  • Need for Ireland to drive up-take through demand-side initiatives

She stated that Forfás had organized focus group sessions for manufacturing and servicing SMEs in Enterprise Ireland’s Offices in Sligo on 22nd February 2006. D. Clarke said that if members from this group or the Telecommunications Advisory Group would like to meet with Forfás on the 22nd to contact M. Hegarty. M. Hegarty asked members to inform any SME’s in their areas of this event and that their attendance would be welcomed.


R. Morrisey outlined the guidelines currently in place with regard to buffer zones between landspreading areas and dwelling homes and stated that participants in the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) must not spread animal slurry within 50 metres of any private dwelling, public building etc. Ms. Morrisey indicated that the only statutory distances for slurry spreading buffer zones are contained in the EC (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2005, which came into effect on the1st February 2006.

She said that the Integrated Pollution Control Licensing BATNEEC Guidance Note For the Pig Production Sector gave guidelines for landspreading of pig manure and wash water.

She stated that the new legislation also covers storage requirements and prohibited periods for spreading, i.e. Storage requirements in County Sligo is 18 weeks. Prohibited periods for landspreading in County Sligo are:

• Organic fertilisers 15th Oct – 15th January
• Chemical fertiliser 15th Sept – 15th January
• Farmyard manure 1st Nov – 15th January

Ms. Morrissey also referred to the guidelines for limiting odour nuisance by avoiding the spreading within 200m of sensitive buildings such as hospitals and schools, 100m from dwelling houses, amenity areas and other locations where people congregate.

Cllr. J. Devins asked if these guidelines were enacted into legislation and R. Morrisey said that there was no legislation governing land spreading near dwelling homes only guidelines. Cllr. J. Devins asked if this was the same in all local authorities and R. Morrisey indicated that it varies with different local authorities.


Mr. Breen indicated that the purpose of the report was to examine all of the issues facing the Council in terms of the proposal to takeover Sligo Harbour. He stated that significant improvements were carried out in the last number of years under the stewardship of the Chairman and Members of the Harbour Commission.

With regard to the financial viability to the operation of the port, he informed the members that the Council is satisfied that this is economically viable. However, he pointed out that substantial capital investment was needed and this was estimated to be in the region of €4.5 million. He also referred to the question of dredging and the substantial funding required for carrying out this work every few years. He also referred to the former landfill site at Finisklin and the possible remediation works that might be needed in the future. He expected that any necessary funding would be provided by Central Government as this is a national issue. He pointed out that a significant portion of land at the harbour was held by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and the Department of Finance and it was hoped that the freehold of these lands would be passed on to the Council. In relation to the foreshore, it would be hoped that some means would be devised to give the Council control over the foreshore area to enable decisions to be made about its development without having to obtain the approval of the Department and the possible extra costs involved.

In summary, he stated that the harbour area was of strategic importance to the City of Sligo in terms of the economic development of the region and the development of the city as a gateway in accordance with the National Spatial Strategy. He confirmed that on balance, the Council is satisfied that the development of the port represents an opportunity for the Council to secure its proper development and to utilise this as a driver for the economic development of the region.

On the question of the preparation of a plan for the area and the interest held by many people and firms with legal interest in sites at the harbour, he indicated that all of these sites need to be examined at a micro-level and all stakeholders afforded an opportunity of having an input into any plan made for the harbour area.

Cllr. Barry referred to the use of the harbour for shipping. He expressed a view that the Council should ensure the continued operation of the harbour for shipping and that the area known as the Deepwater be reserved for this purpose.

Cllr. McLoughlin expressed a view that obtaining rights to the foreshore was paramount for any future regeneration of the harbour. This was seconded by Cllr. Kilgannon and it was agreed that the Council should pursue this issue.

Cllr.Devins expressed disappointment at the lack of development in the harbour area and stated that the logical step was to utilise this area for the promotion of tourism and other developments.

Mr. Carolan stated that the Port and the Ballast Quay area had considerable potential for development and it was up to the Local Authority to market the real estate that can be developed. He also indicated that there were hard issues to be dealt with e.g. demolition, relocation, and reclamation. Consultation would be required with the various stakeholders for future housing and other developments.

Mr. Forkan indicated that it was necessary to get the full support of the Chamber.

Mr Breen indicated that it would be necessary for the Minister for the Marine to make an order assigning responsibility for the harbour to the Council. This would also be subject to the approval of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Following discussions it was agreed unanimously by the members of the committee that the Council ought to proceed to take responsibility for the operation of the harbour.

It was noted that many of the issues facing the Council would already have been encountered by the other port authorities. It was agreed that Mr. Carolan would arrange a trip to view Derry City Harbour in the first instance as a demonstration of what could be achieved in the development of Sligo harbour.



Mr. Carolan informed the meeting that extensive zoning requests were received for Carney. He indicated that if all the land (i.e. 97ha) outlined in zoning requests were developed, it would have enormous negative implications for the village and its infrastructure facilities. He also stated that part of this land would encroach on a Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds. Both Mr. Forkan and Cllr. McLoughlin expressed concern at the lack of facilities and services to accommodate further development. It was agreed that the Councillors for the area would be consulted with regard to proposed draft mini plan.


Mr. Carolan advised the members that while the current footprint for Coolaney covers 36.42ha requests were received for the zoning of a further 64ha for residential and mixed uses.

One submission received from a land owner requested the zoning of 43ha for residential use. With regard to a number of submissions received there were opposing views to the linking of Coolaney and Rockfield and the majority of the submissions were in respect of the zoning of land outside the village centre.


The members were informed that if all the land subject to zoning requests were developed in Dromore West, it would more than double the footprint. Mr Carolan indicated that the issues raised in the submissions were not complicated. Mr. Forkan informed the meeting that it would be necessary for councillors and planners to discuss the issues, as it was not practical to allow the expansion of a village to this degree.


Members were informed that the Local Area Plan was adopted, printed and issued.


Mr. Carolan confirmed that the main issues in Tubbercurry were dereliction and the implications for the town centre arising from requests for the extension of residential areas outside the town centre. He suggested that councillors meet informally to discuss implications and establish a structured approach.


Cllr. Barry and Cllr. McLoughlin expressed concern at the number of holiday homes in Mullaghmore, the lack of services and the necessity to upgrade the sewerage treatment system. It was suggested that this should be put on the agenda for the next SPC1 Meeting. Mr Carolan informed the meeting that, subject to available resources, it was proposed to commence preparation on Mini-Plans for Rosses Point/Ballincar late summer/autumn. He suggested that the members discuss and put forward, at a future meeting, options for a further group of mini-plans.


Mr Forkan advised the meeting that Draft Development Management Planning Guidelines have issued from the Department of the Environment. He stated that the Guidelines are intended to promote best practice at every stage in the development management process. The guidelines focuses mainly on process not policy and will replace the former “yellow book” Development Control Guidelines issued in 1982.

Some of the advice contained in these Guidelines is still valid and has been incorporated into this version where appropriate. Mr Forkan informed the meeting that the Guidelines dealt with the P.L. application process from pre-planning consultation to the granting of permission, appeals to An Bord Planeala and Enforcement.


M. Hegarty informed the members that D. Clarke was changing Directorate to Housing, Corporate & Emergency Services and wished her well on behalf of the staff of Community, Enterprise & the Arts. The Chair T. McLoughlin thanked D. Clarke for her help and advice on this SPC.

The meeting concluded at 5.00pm

No date for the next meeting was fixed.


Meeting Date 17/02/2006