A large-scale housing development in Killarney town has been refused permission because of the potential impact on lesser horseshoe bats flying to their roosts in the nearby Killarney National Park.
Artificial lighting including during the construction phase would disturb the bats that “commute” along the Deenagh river in the Killarney National Park along side the proposal for 228 units, Kerry’s first strategic housing development, according to An Bord Pleanála.
The 15-acre infill site off the N71 Port Road, opposite the Killarney National Park, would have included houses, duplexes, town houses and 152 apartments in three and four storeys, a childcare facility, and a large green area along with roads.
The application had the strong approval of the council planners, amid a shortage of housing supply in Killarney and its potential to facilitate pedestrians and cyclists.
Applicants Portal Asset Holdings Ltd pointed to the suitability of the site, near the town centre in Killarney, and within easy walking distance of education, amenity, library, hospital, park and playground facilities. The mix would help to provide accommodation for workers in the tourism sector, they said.
However, there had been over 50 submissions from nearby residents and others complaining of density, problems with access, overshadowing as well as impacts on the national park. A number of public meetings had been held.
The SHD for housing of more than 100 units Kerry’s was first. The legislation has been replaced by ‘Large Scale Residential Development’ legislation. This restores the two stage process (local authority first followed by appeal to the board) with very stringent timelines and detailed pre-planning discussions before the lodgment of an application.
Lesser Horseshoe bats roost around 600 metres from the infill site and the species were subject to disturbance from light, the inspector noted in his report.
An Bord Pleanála has now refused permission on the single ground of the site’s proximity to the Killarney National Park, MacGillycuddy’s Reeks candidate SAC and its potential to disturb the bat.
“The proposed development may result in increased artificial lighting generated at both construction and operational phases that may impact on Lesser Horseshoe Bats that commute along routes to the west of the Port Road and Deenagh river,” the board said.
The applicant had failed to demonstrate there would be no adverse effect on the integrity of a European site and therefore the application was contrary to proper planning and suitable development.