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  • Southside

Save the Hellfire group feel positive after oral hearings

Monday, 3rd December, 2018 6:00pm
Save the Hellfire group feel positive after oral hearings

An artist’s impression of the new visitor’s centre near the Hellfire Club.

Save the Hellfire group feel positive after oral hearings

An artist’s impression of the new visitor’s centre near the Hellfire Club.

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Gabija Gataveckaite

A CAMPAIGN opposing the proposed Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre is “feeling positive” after a series of oral hearings at An Bórd Pleanala last week.

South Dublin County Council, which is proposing the development consisting of a new visitor centre, and members of the ‘Save the Hellfire’ group attended the hearings.

The planned Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre is a joint development proposal by South Dublin County Council, Coillte and the Dublin Mountains Partnership to create a new “gateway” to the Dublin Mountains.

It would be located at the combined Massy’s Wood /Estate and Montpelier Hill incorporating the legendary Hellfire Club site. At an estimated cost of €15 million, the centre will be constructed from natural materials and integrated into the landscape setting with extensive panoramic views of Dublin City.

The proposal adds: “The Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre development is founded on a vision that the history, landscape, heritage and amenity of the Dublin Mountains should be promoted as a resource for the enjoyment of the people of South Dublin and for visitors to the area from elsewhere in Ireland and abroad.

However, Save the Hellfire have claimed that the proposed development is against the EU Habitats Directive and will endanger the local wildlife. 

 “The scale of the proposed development is very destructive,” said one member of the group, Anna Collins. 

“South Dublin County Council proposed lovely images of what the development will look like, but the area around will become a wasteland,” she claimed. “One big hub will destroy the network of little roads.” 

The group also claims that the rural road will not be able to accommodate heavy traffic, which is expected to be 300,000 visitors per annum.

According to the group’s website, the site could be home to “potential treasures” as it is a Neolithic landscape.

 “In order for the council to pursue their objectives and build here they have to overturn the directive,” Ms Collins added. “They have not pursued proper studies of wildlife and ecology on these sites.”

The group argues that the proposed development would endanger the wildlife in the site, including the protected red squirrel. 

However, the group feels positively as it awaits the verdict of the oral hearings. 

“I can’t see this going ahead, we’re feeling quite good at the moment but it’s hard to see what the board will decide,” she said. 

The proposed development at the mountains was announced by South Dublin County Council in August 2017.

According to a statement issued by the council at the time, the development will consist of a “dedicated interpretative exhibition and educational facility as well as a café and shop, a rambler’s lounge and toilets. The proposal will also deliver improved quality and quantity of walks and trails for people of all ages and abilities incorporating an iconic tree-top walkway/bridge from Montpelier Hill into Massy’s Wood.”

So far, 20,000 people have signed the petition against the proposed visitor centre. 

“We’ve had a lot of social media activity and a lot of support, people like to dip in and out and stay in touch,” said Ms Collins. 

“We plan to host more fundraisers and keep people engaged with the process until our victory.”

When asked to comment on the claims that the proposed development breaches the EU Habitat Directive, the council said they had “no further comment to make at this time”.

A decision on the oral hearings is expected early in 2019.

The council says the centre would improve the quality of walks in the area.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here