Save Tullig from West Cork Distillers

Planning system plays into hands of unscrupulous corporate developers

By Calvin Jones on January 18, 2022

Significant delays in making planning documentation available online hamper the efforts of small local communities and benefit unscrupulous corporate developers, according to a community group in rural West Cork.

Rural community says No to West Cork Distillers Industrial Warehousing Plans
Opposing inappropriate planning applications is more difficult when you can't view the plans.

Tullig and Reenascreena Community Group ( is opposing plans by Skibbereen based West Cork Distillers to build a huge industrial warehousing complex on unzoned agricultural land in the heart of the West Cork countryside. Cork County Council deemed an initial planning application by the company invalid, and dismissed it in August 2021.

On 23 December 2021, just before the Planning Office closed for the Christmas break, West Cork Distillers submitted a revised planning application for the site at Tullig/Reenascreena. Documentation associated with that application only became available to view via Cork County Council's online planning portal, e-plan, on Tuesday 18 January, 26 days after they received the application.

That delay is unacceptable, says the community group, and while it acknowledges that physical plans were available for inspection at the local planning office in Skibbereen, that simply isn't good enough under current circumstances.

"In a rural area, not everyone can pop into town on a whim to check the wording of a document at the best of times, but it's particularly bad now, in the middle of a global pandemic," said resident and group member Calvin Jones. "The surge in Omicron infections over the Christmas break meant a lot of local households were isolating, with many more limiting their public contact to avoid catching Covid. Suggesting that people could pop into the local planning office to view plans under those conditions isn't just unreasonable... it's borderline irresponsible."

Cork County Council Planning Department added 9 days to the five week statutory deadline for the submission of objections to account for closures during the Christmas break. That extends the submission deadline to Friday 04 February at 4pm. However, given the lengthy delay in making documents available online, Tullig and Reenascreena Community Group insists that the current submission deadline is grossly unfair. It puts the community at a significant disadvantage and plays directly into the hands of the corporate interests of West Cork Distillers.

"Because of the delay, most people locally are only getting to see these plans for the first time now. It gives us a two-and-a-half week window, rather than the usual 5 weeks, to assess these complex documents, coordinate a response and encourage as many people as possible to submit their objections," said Jones. "This was undoubtedly West Cork Distillers' strategy all along. They submitted their plans as late as possible on Christmas week, in the middle of a Covid surge, to minimise the potential for opposition. It was designed to catch our small, rural community on the hop, and unfortunately, Cork County Council's rigid planning deadlines are playing right into their hands."

The community group is calling on the relevant authorities to make the planning system fairer, and to base deadlines for submissions on when the scanned documents become publicly available, rather than when the application is submitted.

"If the deadline for submissions was set not from when the planning application was received, but from when everyone had access to the application in its entirety online, that would level the playing field," said Jones. "It would stop unscrupulous corporate developers using inefficiencies in the planning system to squeeze the window of opposition, giving small local communities a fair chance to respond."

Article written by Calvin Jones
Calvin Jones is an author, freelance writer and naturalist who lives just down the road from the proposed development, in the adjacent townland of Clounkeen East. He is the founder of Ireland's Wildlife.

This needs to be stopped

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