A special application has been made to Cork County Council for permission to develop a Traveller horse grazing project on the outskirts of Cork City.
The Irish Examiner has learned that the application to the local authority’s planning department seeks a derogation order stating the project, earmarked for city council-owned land in Carrigrohane and which is within the county council’s administrative area, does not require planning permission.
The application has been made by a steering group overseeing the project, details of which were first reported by this paper last February.
It is understood the application has been made within the last two weeks and that the county council’s planning officials have a number of weeks to make a decision.
Ballincollig-based Cllr Daithí Ó Donnabháin said there are concerns locally about the project earmarked for a 35-acre site west of the city, on the northern banks of the River Lee at the Carrigrohane end of the Lee Road.
“There is concern amongst residents about the feasibility of the site, about the impact of traffic in the area, and about animal welfare, given that the proposed site is a floodplain which floods for up to half a year,” he said.
“I hope to explore these and other issues at a public meeting called by residents for Thursday night.”
Plans for this project emerged from a horse seminar held in the city in March 2013 which heard evidence that such Traveller horse projects have reduced the number of impounded horses, reduced levels of anti-social behaviour, and reduced costs to local authorities of dealing with various horse issues.
The project has been developed in recent years by an inter-agency group which includes representatives of the Traveller Visibility Group (TVG), An Garda Síochána, Cork City Council, the ISPCA, the Department of Agriculture, Cork Healthy Cities Traveller Unit, the HSE and Cork City Partnership.
The earmarked site, which has been owned by the city for several years and which was recently leased to local farmers, has been identified as suitable to facilitate the grazing of up to 20 horses owned by 10 families.
The horse owners have formed a Traveller Horse Association and have agreed a strict set of rules and regulations governing the operation of the proposed site which will be licensed for 11 months to the Traveller Visibility Group (TVG) and will be subject to annual review.
It has also been proposed to give local residents a named contact for any issues which may arise.
A spokesperson for the steering group overseeing the project said the members of the Traveller Horse Association have a “deep commitment” to animal welfare.
And the spokesperson said at the time that it would be a ‘grazing only’ project with no permanent structures on site.
“The grazing site will be secure, well-fenced, well-run and monitored by CCTV,” she said.
“Horses in the project will be subject to ongoing review by the ISPCA and Department of Agriculture officials in accordance with their remit for all horse welfare.”