PLAN Observations 210625


Submission to Cork County Council

Draft County Development Plan 2021

From: Coiste Fobartha Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh on behalf of the Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh (Ballingeary)


Ballingeary is identified in the 2021 Draft County Development Plan as a Key Village, within the Macroom Municipal District, and is

discussed in Volume 4, South Cork, section 4.7 of the draft plan.

Coiste Forbartha Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh

Coiste Forbartha Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh is the community-based “Ballingeary Development Committee,” which engages in all

aspects of community life. The Coiste has been in existence for more than 20 years 1 .

See: for an overview of the activities of the Coiste.

The 2019 Constitution of Coiste Forbartha, Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh CLG states the objective of the Social Enterprise is: “To

promote and develop social, environmental and economic opportunities for the benefit of all aspects of life in the Ballingeary area.”

The Coiste is engaged day-to-day in a number of projects both long and shorter term which flow from this rather broad objective,

and which are in alignment with section 4.7 of the draft plan.


Coiste Forbartha, Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh Cuideachta faoi Theorainn Rathaiochta, (AKA Coiste Forbartha, Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh CLG or

CTR), is the legal entity which was established as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, in 2019.

What follows is a commentary which we respectfully submit as assistance to the Council in preparation of the County Development

plan 2021.

The vision presented in the plan for Ballingeary aligns well with that of the community. There is a great love of place and sense of

identity in the community which should be respected, encouraged and sustained. Scale and character are of utmost importance.

“retention and improvement of key facilities, including social and physical infrastructure”

A number of community-driven projects and initiatives under way at present or planned support this focus. Our rate of progress with

these depends on funding.

Development within the village development boundary has been constrained by the lack of an adequate waste water treatment

plant, which also impacts on development of social amenities. Another constraint on development within the village is the lack of

residential sites for sale.

See previous comment on 4.7.3. In addition to the two points raised it is worthwhile also noting that there are a number of disused

properties within the village and in the immediate area which could be brought back into residential use. (The latter are generally

farmhouses, which if brought back into use would enhance the heritage of the area). At present there seem to be no viable

incentives which would help refurbishment or sale-for-refurbishment of these buildings. As a consequence these properties lie

empty. The Coiste is interested (subject to funding) to adopt and manage a number of properties in order to offer short and medium

rental opportunities for individuals and their families who might wish to relocate and possibly would wish to avail themselves of the

digital hub at the GTEIC, which is already in operation.

As a general comment, this land is not available for sale. The problem with the waste water treatment plant is also relevant here.

The Coiste and the Ballingeary community fully concur with this statement. A number of community-driven infrastructure projects

and initiatives are under way or planned, subject to availability of sources of funding.

The absence of an adequate wastewater treatment plant is a blight on the social and economic development of Ballingeary. The

location of the current inadequate septic tank which discharges directly into the Bunsheelin river represents a public health risk to

those who would use the river for recreation, to members of the GAA whose pitch is frequently contaminated by raw sewerage, and

to the community at large because the tank adjoins land which was recently taken into Coiste ownership with a view to

development as a wild life reserve and starting point for a planned Blue Way between Ballingeary and Inchigeelagh.

As a result of the CFRAMS study, the OPW proposed a “hard engineering” (walls) solution to flooding in Ballingeary. It was

basically presented to the community as the only option, with a “hold back the water” option being dismissed as too costly.

Costings for neither option was presented to the community. Recent developments in academia and in actual practice in the UK

suggest that Natural Flood Management (NFM) solutions could be used to mitigate flood risk in high catchment areas such as

Ballingeary, with much less impact on the visual amenity in this key village. Moreover the construction of the long awaited WWTP

will require recalculation of flood risk models for the village according to the OPW.

The Coiste has a flood relief flood committee which developed a proposal for an NFM pilot study under the European Innovation

Partnerships (EIP) scheme which unfortunately failed in second stage funding see:

“a significant proportion of lands along the banks of the river will be designated for amenity use. The village would also benefit from

the provision of new footpaths, improved street lighting and street furniture.”

There are specific Coiste projects relating to such developments (Blue way, boardwalk, walking trails).

Notwithstanding the capacity of the village water supply there are some water quality issues associated with abstraction of water

from the Bunsheelin River and its treatment which should be addressed. (Trihalomethanes (THMs): EPA)

The comment 4.7.11 regarding the WWTP cannot be overstated. As mentioned above, not only is the current situation a blight on

development, it represents a public health risk.

As mentioned above, the currently proposed hard engineered “solution” would be very destructive to the visual amenity within the

village. Moreover it relies on the availability of electricity to drive a pumping station during storm conditions when power outages are

more likely to occur. The EIP project mentioned above suggested an NFM based solution. This should be explored, and a new

design sought, especially as at the time of the CFRAMs study, OPW was unaware of the proposed WWTP upgrade, the design of

which requires further loss of river floodplain close to the village centre. Until a solution IS implemented, the OPW should commit

(through Cork county council) to continue with periodic river clearance below the village of Ballingeary, which has been shown to

reduce flood risk.

Further to this, the Coiste has ownership of the original Coláiste Múinteoireachta na Mumhan building in the middle of the village

and is in the late stages of a LEADER-funded (through Údarás na Gaeltachta) feasibility study to develop “An Súgán: Museum of

the Irish Language & Gaelic Revival”. This initiative will support the community, provide a multi-use venue for community use and

provide a cultural tourism attraction of national significance. (See appendix).

The Coiste has also acquired a parcel of land just to the west of the village which is planned to become a boardwalk trail, Nature

reserve, Blue way start off point.

We anticipate that these projects will create employment and stimulate economic activity in the community in a sensitive and

measured way.

Availability of short and medium term rental housing would allow more use of the GTEIC hub by new community residents, with

consequent benefits to the local economy, and school rolls.

The planned museum and the planned boardwalk/Blue way will create employment, and support educational initiatives. In particular

the museum will provide a context within which future Coláiste na Mumhan students will study the language and come to

understand and take pride in its place in a modern Ireland.

Other structures of note include the bridges at either end of the village (C1820), the stepping stones (clapper bridge) which is the

longest in Ireland a recorded historical structure, and the proposed museum building adjacent to the church, home to the first Irish

Language teacher training college (1904). The Coiste recently installed a series of signs marking 21 historic sites of interest within

the village:

The WWTP issue is important to the amenity value of Lough Allua, which is currently one of the priority areas in the current RBMP

(number 16).

It is ironic that this statement should appear here:

“It is important that the landscape setting of the village is adequately protected. This can be achieved in part, by avoiding

development on prominent hillsides and ridges to the south, and by avoiding development close to the foreshore of Lough Allua,

which is a Nature Conservation Area. Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh (Ballingeary) is a popular destination for day trips and longer-term


Development within the village is constrained by the lack of available sites although the land is zoned for development. It is also

constrained by the WWTP issue.

Meanwhile this wording “It is important that the landscape setting of the village is adequately protected” in 4.7.22 is seen to prevent

local families from being able to provide housing for their children, and meanwhile, wind farms are allowed to proliferate with

apparently almost no resistance from the planners. These two apparently contradictory situations cause a degree of resentment

among local residents. Volume 1 of this draft plan in section 13.6 discusses areas where wind farm development is “acceptable in

principle”. The problem with this approach is that the cumulative effect of more and more wind farm development in an area so

designated creates a great degree of hostility amongst residents and a feeling of “more than a fair share”.

The figure shown above is taken from the current application 215372 submitted by Keel Energy Limited shows the wind farms in

the area. It does not include the planned SSE applications at Gortyrahilly (15 Turbines) and Inchamore (6 turbines). There needs

to be a “fair share” limit beyond which “acceptable in principle” becomes “not permitted”

DB-01 Availability of sites for purchase is the issue. There are a number of disused properties which could be brought back into


DB-02 The Coiste is working to achieve this : Walking trails, Ble Way/Board Walk, Museum

DB-03 Agreed. Our Museum project clearly aligns here.

DB-04 See comments regarding Wind Farms above. The community feels that “enough is enough” in this regard, and feels that it

has receive minimal community benefit from the Wind Farms that ARE here.

GR-01 There is immense community support for Casadh na Spride from the Tidy Towns group within the Coiste, and contributions

from the CO CO are gratefully acknowledged.

GA-02 Agreed and on goig. A new WWTP would reduce contamination with sewerage, which is a public health risk

GR-03 Trails, boardwalk, blue way

GC-04 See comments above regarding natural flood management solutions

U-01 We are currently in the process of registration of exiting walks with Sport Ireland

U-02 Our proposed Blueway/Boardwalk would join the clapper bridge walk thereby making it longer and more interesting.

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