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24th March 2009
Minutes of the Meeting of the Environment Committee held in the Council Chamber, Council Offices, 47 Derry Road, Strabane on Tuesday 24 March 2009 at 7.30 p.m.
Present: - In the Chair: Councillor G Foley
Other Members: Councillors M Boyle, A Bresland, D Breslin, J Donnell, J Emery, D Hussey T Kerrigan, C McGill, K McGuire, R McHugh, E McMenamin, J O’Kane
In Attendance: Chief Executive
Ms Oonagh Given, Planning Officer
Countryside Access Officer
Apologies: Councillors B McMahon, T McBride,
J McNulty, Chief Technical Services Officer, Technical Services Licensing Officer
Planning Schedule – March 2009
All Councillors declared an interest in the following applications: J/2008/0592/O & J/2009/0034/F
It was agreed that the following applications could be held for one month: J/2008/0633/F, J/2009/0041/O, J/2009/0052/F, J/2009/0066/F, J/2009/0078/F.
It was agreed that a site meeting would be arranged for the following application: J/2008/0640/F
In relation to application J/2008/0701/O, the Planning Officer agreed that she would make a visit to the site and bring a recommendation back to the next Environment Committee Meeting.
It was agreed that the following application J/2009/0053/O be deferred for PPS21.
It was agreed that the following application be held for 10 days: J/2009/0055/O
On the proposal of Councillor Kerrigan, seconded by Councillor McMenamin the approvals on the above schedule were approved.
Deferred Planning Schedule – March 2009
It was agreed that the following application be held for 10 days: J/2007/0726/F, J/2007/0827/F
Councillors O’Kane, Boyle and McMenamin welcomed the progress made in relation to the following application: J/2008/0404/F
On the proposal of Councillor O’Kane, seconded by Councillor Breslin the above schedule was approved.
Request for Presentation to Council
It was agreed at the request of Councillor Donnell that a representative of Strabane Mills be invited to make a presentation to Council in relation to planning application J/2008/0177/F for a Biomass waste wood fuelled power plant.
Delivering Planning Reform Conference – Culloden Hotel, Belfast 02 April 2009 at an approximate cost to Council of £301.83
On the proposal of Councillor McHugh, seconded by Councillor Boyle it was agreed that Councillor McGuire and Councillor Foley would attend the above conference.
No Time To Waste – Deliver the Strategy 29 & 30 April 2009 Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle, Co Down at an approximate cost to Council of £462.66.
On the proposal of Councillor McGuire, seconded by Councillor McMenamin it was agreed that Councillors Foley and McBride would attend the above.
CIWM – Future Conference 2009 09–11 June 2009 Excel, London at an approximate cost to Council of £1658.25
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin, seconded by Councillor Boyle it was agreed that the above conference be ‘marked as read’.
Transport Ireland 2009, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dublin 08 April 2009 at an approximate cost to Council of £435.58
On the proposal of Councillor Boyle, seconded by Councillor Emery it was agreed that Councillor McMenamin attend the above.
Presentation on Strabane Canal
The Chief Executive (CE) referred to a letter that he had forwarded to Mr Eamon Molloy, North West Regional Cross Border Group (NWRCBG) in relation to outstanding works that needed to be completed before Council would be in a position to take it over. He further stated that given that the project was funded by Interreg, he requested that the Special European Unions Programmes Body (SEUPB) undertake an independent Audit of the project, however do date the Audit not commenced.
The Countryside Access Officer (CAO) showed Members photographs of the canal in its present state and advised that there were issues in relation to the following:
• Drainage – surrounding fields flooding on regular basis
• Debris along river bank
• Fencing not adequate or secure
• Health and Safety of gates – a walkway required
• Beams used for gates were beginning to rot
• Concrete pipes left behind when contractor pulled out
• No training files had been passed to Council re. operation of gates etc.
(see * below)
Councillor McMenamin’s views included the following:
• Who was responsible for the Canal at present?
• Were there Life Belts along the Canal bank?
• Was there prohibiting signs erected?
In response the CE clarified that Council had not yet taken the project over from Strabane Lifford Development Commission (SLDC), however Council would currently share liability. He further confirmed that there were Life Belts present and that despite Council erecting fencing and signage to prevent members of the public from accessing it, Council would be held jointly liable for any claims made re. the canal.
Councillor Breslin stated that he was shocked at the standard of work that had been undertaken at the Canal. He stated that the management of the project was very poor and it was unfortunate that the money invested had not been used to its full potential.
Councillor Breslin queried if any further funding could be available to complete the project and highlighted that it would be a great tourist attraction if it was to reach its full potential.
Councillor McMenamin left the meeting – 8.25pm.
Councillor O’Kane stated that the consultants who undertook the project should be held responsible for the condition the Canal had been left in noting that there was no clerk of works on the site. He also stated that the issues and concerns Councillors raised in the past were ignored by the consultants.
Councillor McGill expressed concerns in relation to the Health & Safety of the fencing which led up to the bridge.
In response to Councillor McGill, the CE clarified that it was the consultants who undertook the design of the bridge, however it was contractors who designed the fence which led up to the bridge. He agreed that it was not up to acceptable standards.
Councillor Hussey queried if the SLDC was still in existence. He further stated that they commissioned the project, therefore it was their responsibility to have it completed. He cautioned that Council should not take on a defective project.
The CE advised that during that last meeting he attended with SLDC, the snag list that Council had provided was classed as additional works by the consultants.
Councillor Boyle thanked the CE and the CAO for their presentation and stated that she was shocked by the poor level of work that had been undertaken. She further stated that she concurred with the comments made by Councillors in relation to the project.
Councillor Kerrigan expressed concerns in relation to Council’s ability to obtain funding for completion of a project it currently was not responsible for. He also expressed concerns in relation to the safety of the gates.
Councillor Donnell declared an interest in the project.
Councillor Donnell stated that the Canal would be a great facility if it was finished to a suitable standard. He also stated that the bridge should have been positioned at Crampsie’s Lock and that restoration works should be completed before Council take over the project. Councillor Donnell also expressed concerns in relation to obtaining funding for a project that had already been funded but incomplete.
The CE advised Members that he hoped that SEUPB would begin the Audit within the next few weeks and further advised that he would update Members of the findings.
The meeting ended at 8.50pm.
The following does not form part of the Minutes recorded above but is included hereon in the interests of clarity:
At a meeting of Strabane District Council held on the day of 7 April 2009 the Minutes of the above Meeting were adopted as a true record on the proposal of Councillor Kerrigan, seconded by Councillor O’Kane, subject to the following amendment:-
* Insert the following:
A list outlining 13 issues of concern, as prepared in August 2008 and previously relayed to Members had been re-tabled for Members’ attention and included:
1. Make good the loose stonework on edges of both walls at lock gates (Devine’s Lock), grade walls to eliminate any steps and provide suitable thick sod as capping to wall.
2. Make good the loose stonework to exposed face of wall with suitable stone or provide suitable grass banked retaining, to protect the face adjacent to towpath at Devine’s Lock.
3. Assess timbers used in the construction of the lock gates at Devine’s Lock and replace as necessary
4. Replace fence along towpath edge of former compound, fit replacement gate and posts.
5. Remove unstable ramp to footbridge and associated handrails/guardings, lower footbridge to level of towpath and make good surroundings.
6. A section of the towpath to the north of the new footbridge needs to be raised to reduce flooding potential into landowner’s land.
7. Culvert giving access into landowner’s fields has collapsed. As a result there is now no drainage from south field northwards to the River Foyle, this needs to be replaced. Pre-existing gate and posts at this location have not been refitted.
8. Consider appropriate topping up method for canal to retain appropriate water levels and minimise stagnation of water during dry periods.
9. Provide a cantilever walkway/bridge to inner gates at Crampsies Lock to facilitate safe access for opening and closing of sluice and gates.
10. Reset the anchors and realign the Lock gates as necessary to ensure effective working arrangements at Crampsies Lock.
11. Raise embankment between the Foyle River and landowner’s land at Crampsies Lock to reduce the risk of flooding to the landowner.
12. Make good any loose stonework to the edges at the head of the walls at Crampsie’s lock and provide suitable thick sod beyond edge stone and over wall head.
13. One-way flap gate allowing drainage into the canal mouth from landowner’s north field needs repaired/replaced.