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disappointed Councillor says court's refusal to reject €15m Hellfire Club visitor centre proposal 'disappointing'

'I think that those of us who feel a visitor centre is not necessary to enjoy the natural beauty of the Hellfire Massy's Wood will feel disappointed'

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The Hell Fire Club at Killakee Co. Dublin Photo by Tony Gavin

The Hell Fire Club at Killakee Co. Dublin Photo by Tony Gavin

The Hell Fire Club at Killakee Co. Dublin Photo by Tony Gavin

A local councillor has described the High Court’s refusal to overturn permission for a €15m visitor centre at Dublin’s Hellfire Club as disappointing. 

Mr Justice Richard Humphreys’ refusal on Wednesday to permit an appeal over his decision upholding the permission means the visitor centre can now go-ahead.

The Hellfire Massy Residents Association (HMRA) had challenged An Bord Pleanála’s permission to South Dublin County Council to develop a visitor centre in the Dublin mountains at the Massy’s Wood estate and Montpelier Hill.

The site includes the Hellfire club, a national monument built around 1725.

The project is being developed in co-operation with Coillte and the Dublin Mountains Partnership.

According to independent.ie, the HMRA had claimed the development would alter the type, intensity, mix and balance of visitors to Montpelier Hill, Natura 2000 sites and Massy’s Wood.

It claimed this effect had not been assessed and the board failed to consider adequately or at all the impacts on, inter alia, natural habitats, bats and otters.

Earlier this year, Mr Justice Humphreys ruled the group had failed to establish the grant of permission was invalid.

Speaking today, Cllr Alan Edge said that many of the campaigners “who put a lot of work into this are very disappointed”.

“It’s been a long process and I think that those of us who feel a visitor centre is not necessary to enjoy the natural beauty of the Hellfire Massy's Wood will feel disappointed.

"But I think as well it's good to acknowledge the good faith of everyone involved in the process.

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“I think with something that drags on as long as this has, there's obviously a lot of tensions that are created. The court has ruled now and we have to move on and hope that the visitor centre that will now likely go ahead will be as sensitive to the environment as we’re promised it will be."

On the question of a further appeal, Cllr Edge said he was not involved in the running of the campaign so that was the matter for them.

However, a spokesperson for one of the groups that had object to the visitor centre, Save the Hellfire, said they are very disappointed with the judge's decision.

"We are waiting to speak with our legal team to discuss what options are available to us now," the spokesperson added.

Cllr Edge said that of the 40 locals councillors, two had objected to the process.#

"I'm the only one in the area (that objected)," he said. "So I can only speak for myself and the people I've been representing in their views which is that a visitor centre is wholly unnecessary in an area of natural beauty like this.

"Things like extra car parking and basic toilet facilities can be provided without the need for a seriously big piece of infrastructure in the Dublin Mountains.

"I think the view that a lot of a local people took was that basically it is a fallacy to say you need a multi-million euro visitor centre to be able to enjoy a wood and that has been my position throughout.

"But as I said, the court has ruled that it can go ahead so I suppose that marks the end of a very long road. Yes, there is disappointment but also acceptance that the matter has been given a hearing and certainly the concerns of those residents that I represent have been ventilated through various channels.

"In terms of where we go from here, that's a matter for the campaign themselves and the residents but for myself I think we must move on.

"I think it is important to knowledge that despite the differences of view between elected members on this, that everyone has been acting in good faith.

"I think that it is important that when you have a contentious issue like this to acknowledge that.

"Certainly it was important that those people who took a not unreasonable view that a piece of infrastructure like this was neither necessary nor desirable needed to be represented and I was very happy to do so."

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