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Councillor can’t fathom fenceless decision

LOCAL councillors are confused about why An Bord Pleanála ruled that there should not be a fence at a “dangerous location” beside a river in Quin, when there are “clearly health and safety issues”.
At this week’s meeting of the Ennis East Electoral Area of Clare County Council, Councillor Sonny Scanlan requested the council to erect a fence by the river at Duan na Manach, Quin, for safety reasons.
In a written response from John Bradley, acting senior executive officer, it was explained that the council’s original planning application (P04/1999) provided for the development of a security fence along the river frontage of the development.
“An Bord Pleanála in their decision (PL 03.208132) specifically conditioned that such proposed fence be omitted from the development in the interests of amenity and public safety. The council is thus precluded from installing the said fencing in terms of the An Bord Pleanála decision,” the council official explained.
Councillor Scanlan said that this decision made “no sense at all”. “I can’t fathom this. It says there should be security and then it says that it was omitted in the interests of public safety. It’s a very dangerous location and badly needs a fence. There are health and safety issues there. There are a lot of families living in that estate. I understand that the original plan was to have a boundary fence there. I’m very unhappy with this reply. I can see it was An Bord Pleanála’s decision but can the council enlighten us as to why that was the position,” he remarked.
The Bord Pleanála inspector’s report of November 2004 in relation to the proposed development of 53 houses and ancillary site works and public services at Quin Gardens, Quin, stated that the plan seeks a link to the future town park and the riverside walk. “Access should be provided on the southern end of the riverside open space to the future town park and a path along the bank should be provided, linking to the existing pedestrian way to Quin Bridge. I note the proposed steel safety railing along the bank, presumably similar to the one on the opposite side of the bank. This should be omitted, in my opinion, as the British experience with fencing and waterways is that fencing increases death rates, as it inhibits rescue (children will always find ways through fences),” inspector Mary Mac Mahon stated in her report. The development was granted planning permission and was completed in 2007.
Executive engineer for the  council, Eamonn O’Dea, emphasised to councillors at the meeting that it was a specific condition of An Bord Pleanála’s grant of planning permission to the development that the fence should be omitted.
“So that’s what we had to do. We couldn’t allow a fence to be put in, when they had ruled that there must not be one,” he said. Councillor Scanlan replied, “But at the same time there should be safety by the river.”
Councillor Pat Daly said that the matter was “confusing”. “An Bord Pleanála said there shouldn’t be a fence but clearly for security reasons, there should be a fence.”
Councillor Scanlan said that on health and safety grounds, Clare County Council should write to An Bord Pleanála. “I have it in mind to write to them myself and I’d request my fellow councillors to support me,” he added.
Ennis town clerk, Eddie Power, said that the council would assess health and safety issues at the location and come back to councillors regarding the matter.

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