*Quin Rd Business Park. 

SHANNON AIRPORT GROUP need to delay the sale of public areas and services in the Quin Road Business Park, elected representatives have stressed.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Ennis Municipal District, councillors proposed that Clare County Council contact Shannon Airport Group asking them to defer the pending sale of the essential infrastructure such as sewerage, roads, footpaths and lighting plus public areas of the Business Park. The sale has already been delayed to December 14th.

Up to 600 staff are employed in businesses at Quin Rd Business Park which contributes upwards of €500,000 in commercial rates to the County Council on an annual basis. The adjoining Bruach na hAbhainn estate is served by the pumphouse within the Business Park. Business owners have expressed concern that a private entity could acquire the public areas and neglect the critical services.

No buildings in the Business Park are owned or leased out by Shannon Airport Group. The County Council does have property there, including the Civil Defence headquarters and the Ennis Digital Hub.

Clare TD, Michael McNamara (IND) has made contact with Irish Water expressing concern on the proposed sale of lands and property which includes the Quin Rd pumping station. He warned that private ownership of the infrastructure could have a negative impact. Deputy McNamara has questioned if the lands adjacent to the Ennis South Flood Relief Scheme are suitable for development.

An “urgent negotiation” between the Council and Shannon Airport Group was sought by Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) on the impending sale. He believed the talks should see the essential infrastructure remain in public ownership.

Senior executive officer in the Ennis MD, Leonore O’Neill confirmed they were completing a “due diligence exercise to provide a paper assessment of the assets in question, their current condition and any maintenance liabilities which may arise. We are also seeking clarity on the exact terms of the sale”. She stressed the Council was no longer a water services authority and thus the responsibility for the transfer of such assets now rested with Irish Water.

Speaking on Tuesday, Cllr Flynn reminded colleagues that in May he suggested the Council look at the land on the left side of the entrance as a potential biodiversity site as it was “prone to flooding and was included as a flood risk in our County Development Plan”. He recalled that with a condition of the planning application for the housing in March 1998 that no sewer connection to the Quin Rd Business Park sewage disposal by the developer “shall be permitted until it is taken in charge by Ennis U.D.C”.

Residents must be protected, Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) stressed, “There is a sewerage treatment plan serving the housing estate also so it’s critical proper attempts are made to safeguard it because if it’s in private ownership it can lead to complications if it breaks down”.

Large amounts of the site are privately owned, O’Neill advised. “We have an understanding on who has a liability, we also need to assess their condition in terms of what are going to be the costs and the implications to Clare County Council in the immediate and long-term”.

Director of Physical Development, Carmel Kirby detailed that the Council needed to establish “what is exactly being sold”. She confirmed discussions have been held between the Council and Shannon Commercial Properties but admitted, “we don’t have a full understanding of the conditions of the infrastructure from roads, water, lighting”.

Flynn’s request for Shannon Airport Group to postpone the sale was backed by Cllr Murphy, Cllr Pat Daly (FF), Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) and Cllr Mary Howard (FG). Such a move he argued would the protect the residents of Bruach na hAbhainn and allow the Council and Irish Water to assess the matter further, “it may require Shannon Group to stump up the money to upgrade facilities”.

“We can’t interfere in their business and business decisions but we represent the constituents and private owners in the area, we need to see the level of our powers, not our powers because that sounds pompous but what is within our remit to do this without overstepping the boundaries,” Cllr Howard commented.

Ms O’Neill said she did not believe the Ennis MD could ask for the sale to be delayed. “With all due respect, the elected members can request the deferral, we can be ignored. Once a notice of motion goes before the body of Chamber it is the decision of the elected members. It can be refused by Shannon Group but it is within our right to make a statutory request,” Cllr Flynn responded, a stance which the Mayor of the Ennis MD agreed with.

Advise but not direction can be issued, Leonore stated.“We all acknowledge that we cannot direct but request,” Cllr Colleran Molloy replied, she clarified that communication would be issued in writing. “We’re all happy with that. We’re guardians and custodians of Ennis, requesting the delay of the sale that is well within our powers,” Cllr Howard added.

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