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Sports facility to keep bats in the dark
The Lesser Horseshoe bat

Sports facility to keep bats in the dark

KILLALOE bats will be afforded special protection, as part of the green light to develop new sports facilities on the grounds of a €2.5 million local recreational park.

An automatic timing system will have to be installed on the proposed floodlights for new rugby and athletic training facilities in Clarisford Park, to ensure they do not operate between April 1 and September 14 every year. This is one of seven planning conditions attached to the planning permission secured by Ballina Killaloe Sports and Community Facilities Development Company, in the interests of ecology and to avoid disturbance to bat species.

Clarisford Park is a popular location for recreational activities and currently has a weekly estimated usage of 2,500.

Spearheaded by former Munster, Ireland and Lions hooker Keith Wood, the park is very popular with both locals and visitors and is the venue for weekly 5km runs on Saturday mornings.
The planning authority has also ruled that all mitigation measures, as outlined in Sections 2.1 and 5 of the Ecological Impact Assessment received by the council on February 16, have to be implemented in full during the construction and operational phases of the proposed developments.

This will include the physical disabling of the floodlights during periods between March 31 and September 15. This will be achieved by removing the fuses during this period and it will be the responsibility of the management of the amenity area to remove the fuses and to replace them when usage of the lights is permitted.

Site development and building works can only be carried out between the hours of 8am and 6pm, Mondays to Fridays inclusive, and between 8am and 2pm on Saturdays. No works are permitted on Sundays and public holidays.

Deviation from these times will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances, where prior written approval has been received from the planning authority. This requirement has been included in order to safeguard the amenities of property in the vicinity of the park.

All surface water run-off from roofs, entrances, playing pitches and parking areas has to be collected and disposed of within the site to soakpits, in accordance with the details received by the planning authority on February 16, 2017, and as amended by the further information received by the authority on May 19, 2017.

It cannot be discharged to the wastewater treatment system or percolation area or adjoining properties. The running track surfacing has to be of permeable material only, in the interest of public health and the preservation of ecology at this location.

The not-for-profit, community-based company lodged a planning application with Clare County Council to develop rugby and athletic training facilities, floodlighting and associated site works at Moys, Killaloe, which was approved, subject to seven planning conditions. This includes the development of a 60x5m rugby training pitch, floodlights and athletics facility, specifically a six-lane 200m perimeter track, four 125m sprint lanes, shot putt and throw area and associated site works to include drainage, connection to electrical supply and boundary timber rail fencing mirroring existing pitch boundaries.

Having regard to the recreational zoning of the site, its established use, its location within a Special Area of Conservation, the pattern of development in the area and the extent of the proposed development, the authority ruled that the proposal would be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

Subject to compliance with the seven conditions, the authority said the development would not adversely affect the integrity of any European site, would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity, would not result in a risk of flooding or result in a traffic hazard.

Responding to a Further Information Request, Caroline Madden of Clarisford Limited provided six copies of a revised site layout plan, outlining car parking provision and six copies of a revised Ecological Impact Assessment.

Ms Madden said 58 car parking spaces were required to meet compliance with the Clare Development Plan 2017-2023; 19 cycling parking and three disabled parking spaces were also needed. However, Clarisford already has 68 car parking spaces, 19 cycling parking and six disabled parking spaces.

A Natural Impact Addendum (NIA) provided by Galway-based planning and environmental consultants McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan Limited concluded that the dry drain on the site did not support aquatic vegetation and no evidence that it regularly contained water was recorded.

“No evidence that this man-made drain fed the adjacent pond was recorded and no significant surface water linkage to it was identified,” the report stated.

“The drain will be filled with clean limestone at the outset of works and will act as a soakaway on the site during construction and operation.

“Best practice measures, as described in the Natura Impact Statement, will be fully implemented and there will be no significant impacts on the adjacent pond or surrounding watercourses, as a result of the infilling of this dry drain and construction of the proposed training facilities.”

Clarisford Palace and gardens are located about 500 metres to the north of Clarisford Park, surrounded in the most part by a high stone wall. It has planning protection under the Planning and Development Act 2000 as a protected structure.

According to Ms Madden, the new development will have no direct impact to views for and from this property and no adverse visual impact. Existing vegetative screening will ensure no visibility of development.

As the development site is located with the Lower River Shannon Special Area of Conservation, the company submitted an ecological impact assessment and NIA. No trees will be felled to accommodate the proposed development.

By Dan Danaher

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