Fenit Island Access Campaign

Fenit Island Access Campaign

Campaigning on behalf of the community

Current Situation

On 4 May 2017 Kerry County Council served Enforcement Notices on landowners John Murphy of Fenit Island, Kathleen McCarthy also of Fenit Island and Seamus T. O'Sullivan of Ennis, County Clare. On 13 June 2018 Kerry County Council submitted their case to the court authorities and the defendants were notified. Subsequently, it was reported in Kerry's Eye on Thursday 25 October (below) that the local authority were to seek a court order to have the fencing removed at a hearing to be held on 30 October 2018.

In June 2015 An Bord Pleanála ruled that the fencing on Fenit Island was unauthorised development and hence illegal. On 4 May 2017 the three Fenit Island developers were served with Enforcement Notices requiring them to demolish the fencing and remove them from the island.

This represents a significant turning point in the campaign which means that the unsightly, access denying industrial scale structures such as those pictured below will once and for all be removed from this scenically stunning corner of the island of Ireland.

This achievement is due entirely to the persistence of scores of campaigners who have worked tirelessly to employ the systems that are provided by statute to protect our common heritage. We thank all of the very many who have contributed to the achievement of this significant turning point in our campaign. 

For many years Kerry County Council Planning Department has steadfastly maintained that the industrial scale development carried out by three Fenit Island landowners does not require planning consent - that it is 'exempt development’.

This decision was taken despite the fact that both the 2000 and 2010 Planning Acts make it clear that landowners planning to fence off land previously open to the public to access must first apply for planning permission. It was also the case that local objectors had furnished KCC with scores of sworn affidavits from local people and visitors to the island who maintained that the coastal pathway on the island had been habitually used by them and their forefathers for generations. It is also the case that much of the 2km of the environmentally ruinous fencing has been constructed in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Despite many protests from local, national and international objectors to the unauthorised development, Kerry County Council did nothing in the years since 2008. In 2015, however, they were shown to be wrong in this. Planning permission for the fencing should have been sought by the developers. This has been made plain by An Bord Pleanála (the National Planning Board), which in May 2015 upheld an appeal by a national environmental organisation working with us. The Council is now bound by law to carry out appropriate enforcement. In their report the An Bord Pleanála inspector stated that:

‘….. as the coastline was subject to habitual use within 10 years of the erection of the fencing, the works are not exempt under Article 9(1)(a)(x) of the Regulations.’  (An Bord Pleanála  Inspector’s Report RL08.RL.3219 2015 Page 12)

The An Bord Pleanála Inspector also noted that:

'I do have some concerns that the screening carried out by the planning authority was substantially based on a misconception – i.e. that most of the fencing was just outside the boundary of the SAC.' (ibid, Page 12)

In response to the successful appeal Keep Ireland Open stated that:

‘Kerry County Councils assertion that the Fenit fencing was ‘exempt development was a nonsense from the word go’. (Keep Ireland Open Newsletter 53 Autumn/ Winter 2015).

Kerry County Council not only failed in their responsibility to challenge the unauthorised development on the island they also impeded the efforts of local objectors to bring about the appeal to An Bord Pleanála. Kerry County Council refused our group access to public records requiring us to resort to employing freedom of information entitlements with all of the inconvenience and expense which accompany such a course of action. Despite the May 2015 An Bord Pleanala ruling KCC have yet to act effectively and decisively to have the fencing removed.

Nevertheless, since November 2015 objectors to the unauthorised Fenit Island development have continued to work tirelessly to have Kerry County Council carry out their statutory obligations as the local Planning Authority to enforce the An Bord Pleanála ruling.

We remain committed to the task in hand and continue to enjoy magnificent encouragement from our many supporters locally, nationally and internationally. We currently have over 1400 Facebook followers and receive regular correspondence from the worldwide Kerry diaspora and others through this website and our Facebook page.
Objectors and their many supporters have written, emailed and made telephone contact with Kerry County Council in large numbers in an attempt to learn of the reasons for the delay in enforcing the An Bord Pleanála ruling. We would actively encourage anyone who feels strongly about the denial of traditional access to beautiful and tranquil places such as Fenit Island to add their voice to the chorus of complaints. All the more so as Fenit Island is important in terms of the cultural heritage of the island of Ireland.