'It's like a cruel joke' - Kerry housing refused permission due to bat colony

An Bord Pleanála said artificial lighting could impact the Lesser Horseshoe Bat
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.40 11 Oct 2022

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'It's like a cruel joke' - Ker...

'It's like a cruel joke' - Kerry housing refused permission due to bat colony

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.40 11 Oct 2022

Share this article

A housing development has been refused planning permission in Co Kerry over how it could affect a colony of bats nearby.

Plans for 228 residential units of houses, apartments, duplexes and a crèche were proposed for Killarney.

However An Bord Pleanála refused the permission, due to artificial lighting that could impact the Lesser Horseshoe Bat in the nearby Killarney National Park.


Reporter Josh Crosbie got some local reaction for Newstalk Breakfast.

"It's like a cruel joke for someone that's trying to get on the property ladder," one local man said.

"It felt like something that was created in a satirical magazine."

One woman said: "I'm all for nature and doing what it needs to do - but at the cost of giving families the opportunities for new houses, I think it's terrible to be honest."

Another woman suggested: "I can understand people have varied reasons for being against the plan, but I mean you have to look at the big picture.

"The houses just aren't there; more houses are needed."

'Impossible to disprove'

Fianna Fáil Kerry councillor Michael Cahill said he cannot understand the reasoning.

"It was on lands that were zoned by Kerry County Council,” he said. "The planning department granted the development.

"It was subsequently appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

"I've no difficulty with anyone appealing, but I cannot understand for the life of me how the board actually refused this development and the reasons they actually, particularly gave."

Two workers at the building of a new house in Prague, Czech Republic in February 2014. Two workers at the building of a new house in February 2014. Picture by: Cum Okolo / Alamy Stock Photo

Councillor Cahill said it would be near-impossible to disprove the arguments.

"The main reason was that the lighting from this development would interfere with the flight of the Horseshoe Bat,” he said.

"Other developments have gone ahead, and the Horseshoe Bat is able to change his route, or her route, or whichever the case may be.

"It seems to me to be a reason by the board that is almost impossible to get over: how do you 100% scientifically prove otherwise that it doesn't interfere with their flight?

"We need to have a long, hard look at ourselves as well in the context of, are we supposed to take these elements and issues into consideration before we take the concerns of our fellow human being?

"At the end of the day, Killarney's crying out for housing; it's madness really."

'Part of our natural heritage'

Bat specialist Conor Kelleher said the area is unique.

"Kerry seems to have the highest population of Lesser Horseshoe Bat in Ireland... but because it's so specialised, it can't do what other bat species do: it can't crawl into cracks and crevices.

"It's prevented from doing all that because of the way it's built.

"They're part of our natural heritage that we just really have to look after."

He said the area on the fringes of Killarney National Park is an important route.

"Those tree lines are actually used as a commuting route for the bats.

"If there's a big light source that'll put them off - which means they have to find an alternative route to where their favourite feeding sites are."

However, he believes a compromise is possible "that will suit both species".

"There's ways and means of finding methods to actually have less impact on wildlife; not just the bats, but everything.

"Living in harmony with the creatures that are already there; they were in the countryside and in that area before we came along," he added.

Main image: A Lesser Horseshoe Bat is seen in April 2014. Picture by: Imagebroker / Alamy Stock Photo

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An Bord Pleanala Bat Colony Conor Kelleher Kerry Housing Killarney Killarney National Park Lesser Horseshoe Bat Michael Cahill Newstalk Breakfast

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