Shock at rejection of Marine Park project in West Connemara

A decision this week by an Bord Pleanála means that the planning systems at both local and national levels have rejected a proposed Marine Industries Park in Cill Chiaráin in Connemara.

The Marine Park Plan, which was developed by Údarás na Gaeltachta, was included in national strategies for employment creation in rural areas.

The planning decisions may have major implications for jobs in the Connemara Gaeltacht

Páirc na Mara, a Marine Industries Park, was championed by Údarás na Gaeltachta in an effort to rejuvenate the social and economic status of the west Connemara Gaeltacht.

A 60% decrease in primary school-going numbers in a generation, and national black spot unemployment figures in the Carna/Cill Chiaráin area had set the scene.

However, Galway County Council planners rejected the Marine Park proposal, with environmental factors being a key issue. Údarás na Gaeltacht appealed the decision to Bord Pleanála and, this week, the Planning Board also stood by the Council’s rejection.

The key reasons put forward by Bord Pleanála centred on environmental and archaeological issues. Parts of the project would be in proximity to the Special Area of Conservation known as the Connemara Bog Complex and they said they had concerns that the protected status of the Bog would be affected.

The decision has sent shockwaves through West Connemara.

The project was aimed at a range of marine developments that were expected to create hundreds of jobs in the long run.