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Battle royale Pat Kenny 'delighted' as council refuses permission for Dalkey nursing home amid badger concerns

Fears for the future of the badgers was just one element of the comprehensive Kenny objection against the nursing home.

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Pat Kenny at Bulloch Harbour in Dalkey.  Photo: Steve Humphreys

Pat Kenny at Bulloch Harbour in Dalkey. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Pat Kenny at Bulloch Harbour in Dalkey. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Fears over the fate of the “badgers of Bulloch Harbour” in Dalkey have eased - for now.

This follows Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council refusing planning permission to Bartra Capital for a two to five storey nursing home on a site beside the Dalkey home of broadcaster, Pat Kenny.

In a decision published on Friday, the Council refused planning permission for the 104 bedroom nursing home across a number of grounds.

However, the planning battle between Bartra and the Kennys and other local households over the contentious scheme is almost certainly to continue before An Bord Pleanala where the fate of the local badgers, a wild protected species, will be a crucial element in the row.

This follows a Government department intervening in the planning dispute by lodging a comprehensive submission with the Council where it endorses the fears of the Kennys for the underground home of the local badger family if the nursing home scheme does go ahead.

In their submission, Pat and Kathy Kenny claimed that the “straightforward commercially driven enterprise cannot justify killing the badgers of Bulloch Harbour”.

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Bartra Development Bulloch Harbour

Bartra Development Bulloch Harbour

Bartra Development Bulloch Harbour

In an interview on Friday, Pat Kenny welcomed the Council decision to refuse adding “we are delighted that the DAU share our concerns about a living, breathing badger sett which is there at the moment".

He commented: “A lot of the time when you read about these objections, you say ‘this is Nimbyism - a snail or a seagull or whatever’ but this is real and that is why we are delighted that this has been writ large by the DAU.”

He said: “We are very pleased that they have been very pro-active in this.”

The Council also refused planning permission to the nursing home scheme after finding that it would endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard or obstruction of road users due to a sub-standard access lane to the planned nursing home.

The Newstalk broadcaster commented: "We are very pleased that the Council has pointed up the fact that this is a narrow laneway and it is utterly unsafe to build along for the traffic reasons and the council has writ that large as well which is great.”

Mr Kenny stated that if the board shows the common sense that the planner in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has shown then opponents of the project “will have a strong hand” if the decision is appealed.

He stated that the refusal “is not surprising as it was refused before”.

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He said: “We did say before that this planned nursing home is like Cinderella’s slipper and the ugly sister trying to cram the big foot into it and that is what they have been trying to do”.

As part of preparation in lodging the application, Bartra submitted a Badger Conservation Plan which stated that once proposed mitigation measures have been implemented for the local badgers, the proposed nursing home “will not have a significant impact on the (badger) sett structure”.

However, the Kennys disagreed with the conclusion of the Badger Conservation Plan and instead claimed in their objection that “what is proposed by the applicants as mitigation (of the badger sett) will result in extermination”.

The Kennys claimed that the excavation for the nursing home building at the southern end of the site would destroy the sett “and with it, the badger family”.

The Kennys stated that any destruction of the badger sett would be "cruel and unconscionable.”

In its submission made available by the Council on Friday, the DAU unit of the Dept of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media expressed its own concerns over the future of the badger home.

The DAU stated that it seems unlikely that the various elements of the nursing home scheme can be constructed without encroachment on, and at least the partial destruction of the badger sett, probably including its main chambers.

The DAU state that “even if direct encroachment is not necessitated by the plans as proposed, the undertaking of construction works in such proximity to a sett, including excavation and pile driving, would almost certainly lead to vibrations and soil movements causing the collapse of sett chambers and tunnels”.

The DAU recommended that the Council request the developers to submit a Badger Impact Assessment and Conservation Plan.

According to the DAU, the plan should include a “realistic assessment” of what impacts on the sett are likely to result from the construction works in close proximity to the sett.

The DAU state that “in particular, the assessment should consider the potential of such works to result in collapses in the sett chambers and tunnels”.

As part of their objection concerning the badgers, the Kennys stated that they are in the fortunate and unique position of having an active breeding badger sett “within the grounds of our home”.

They stated that the badgers have been there for in excess of 20 years.

The Kennys revealed: “During this time, we have let them be and kept an eye on them. We have been rewarded over the years with the sight of young badger cubs playing.

They added: “It is not just our family, but the entire neighbourhood, particularly the children, who enjoy these shy nocturnal creatures.”

Fears for the future of the badgers was just one element of the comprehensive Kenny objection against the nursing home.

Instead of seeking additional information from the developer on the badgers, the Council refused planning on a number of grounds.

The decision to refuse comes as new surprise as the Council earlier this year refused planning permission to the same application.

Bartra appealed that decision to An Bord Pleanala only to withdraw the appeal days later and resubmit the planning application before the Council.

The Council refused planning permission after finding that the proposed nursing home “would adversely impact on the residential amenity of adjacent properties by reason of overlooking and overbearing appearance”.

The Council also refused planning as the proposal “would detract from the existing visual and residential amenities of the area, would depreciate the value of property in the vicinity, and if permitted, set an undesirable precedent for similar development in the area”.

Bartra already has planning permission for an apartment scheme on the nursing home site and can advance that scheme if the company doesn't secure planning permission for the nursing home.

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