Save Tullig from West Cork Distillers

Press Release: West Cork Residents Appeal Inappropriate Whiskey Development to An Bord Pleanála

By Calvin Jones on February 16, 2023

Tullig/Reenascreena, 16 February 2023, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
c. 500 words

Plans to build a huge industrial warehousing complex in the heart of a small rural community in West Cork face stiff opposition from residents.

Tullig and Reenascreena Community Group has been fighting West Cork Distillers’ proposal for the inappropriate industrial facility since the first planning application was lodged with Cork County Council in July 2021. More than 18 months later, on Monday 13 February, residents took their opposition to the next level by lodging an appeal with An Bord Pleanála.

Residents were shocked when Cork County Council decided to grant conditional planning permission for the controversial scheme on 16 January 2023.

“To be honest, the community feels let down and betrayed by Cork County Council and the planning process,” said local resident and group spokesperson Calvin Jones. “Ordinary people rely on the planning authority to shield them from inappropriate commercial developments like this one in unzoned rural locations. If they fail to do that, you kind of have to ask what they’re there for.”

The community group worked closely with planning consultants Cunnane Stratton Reynolds on the An Bord Pleanála appeal, and is confident it has a strong case to overturn the County Council’s decision, citing contravention of local and national planning policy, unconvincing precedents and significant gaps, errors and omissions in West Cork Distillers’ application documents.

“There are significant holes in the original planning application, and a lot of the information Council planners requested via Further Information either wasn’t forthcoming, or was sub-par,” said Jones. “We have also been advised that the development contravenes several local and national planning policies. The Council should never have granted planning for it. It simply doesn’t belong here… there are far better locations in the City and County to site facilities like this.”

While the group acknowledges the growth of the Irish whiskey industry is a good news story for Ireland, for that growth to be sustainable, it argues, construction of these enormous maturation facilities needs to happen in appropriate strategic locations to protect both the interests of the Irish Whiskey industry, and the integrity of small rural communities, which are ill-equipped to fight well-heeled corporate interests.

“There needs to be some joined up thinking in terms of where whiskey maturation facilities like these are located,” said Jones. “Buying up cheap farmland to throw up ad-hoc industrial-scale warehousing in the heart of rural Ireland, as West Cork Distillers is attempting to do here, is clearly not the answer.”

While the West Cork community’s fight is a local one, the group warns that the broader issue of inappropriate industrial development on agricultural land has national repercussions that could affect the integrity of rural communities across Ireland.

“Today, it’s the future of our rural community in West Cork that’s under threat. Tomorrow, it could be a similar industrial development on your doorstep, anywhere in rural Ireland. Every time one of these inappropriate facilities gets the go ahead, it makes the next one harder for small rural communities to fight. Enough is enough… we have put a stop to this now.”

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.

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