Council to hold special meeting on Knock airport plan

The Mayo County Council will hold a special meeting on Monday week, July 23, at 9.30am to discuss the adoption of the manager’s report on the Draft Ireland West Airport Knock Local Area Plan 2012-2018. The item had come up for consideration at the normal July monthly meeting of the council, but it was agreed by the members to hold a special meeting to discuss the plan thoroughly among the members.

The manager’s report on the plan had been put together following the public consultation period of the plan which attracted seven submissions from State agencies, individuals, and the airport.

Fine Gael whip, Cllr Joe Mellett proposed the holding of the special meeting at last Monday’s meeting, which itself was out of character for a local area plan, which is normally agreed at local level by the area committee then just given the stamp of approval by the councillors at full council level.

Cllr Mellet told the Mayo Advertiser this week there are plenty good reasons to hold a special meeting on this plan. “Really and truly, this is an issue for every member of the council to consider. It may be in the Swinford Electoral Area but bar the project in Ballinaboy this is the biggest infastructural project in the county and it is key to the success of Mayo as a whole going into the future.”

Cllr Mellett went on to say, “We could have accepted, amended, or rejected it the last day. But even at the last local area meeting, I felt this was too big of an issue just to rubber stamp and send it on. We have to make sure everything is right and spot on. By having a special meeting, we will be able to get the right information from the planners and the officials, who are the professionals when it comes to this kind of thing. We have to make sure that everything is done properly or the Minister for Environment, who at the end of the day will have the final say, could send it back to us.”

The background to the plan is that in 2008, Mayo County Council applied to the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government for a Strategic Development Zone for lands in the vicinity of Ireland West Airport Knock. However the Department responded by informing the council that a local area plan would first have to be carried out so that any potential issues could be addressed before planning for a Strategic Development Zone. The local area plan also saw a full Strategic Environmental Assessment and Habitats Directive Assessment carried out. All these assessments have been carried out and a draft plan put together which went out to public consultation between March and May this year, when seven submissions were received and the manager in the area complied a report which the councillors will now have to consider at the special meeting.

Cllr Mellet believes that there will not be any major issues arising at the meeting, but full consideration still should be given by all members. “There isn’t anything major that should come up, but we give everything the due diligence, the people who made submissions made them in good faith and they should get the consideration they deserve.”

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