Chapter 8 – Climate Action, Environment and Heritage

Open15 Oct, 2022, 8:00am - 28 Nov, 2022, 5:00pm

8.1 Climate Action and the Environment

Climate Change and the transition to a low carbon society has become a key consideration of all land use plans.  The effects of climate change are quickly becoming the biggest challenge we face today posing a serious threat to quality of life, communities, businesses, the environment and biodiversity.   Land use planning is a critical tool to mitigate and adapt to climate change and the protection of our environment. 

Fig 8.1 Groody River running south through Village

Limerick City and County Council has prepared a Climate Change Adaption Strategy 2019-2024, which concentrates on dealing with the effects of climate change addressing adaption to minimise the effects of climate change, such as extreme weather events and greenhouse gas emissions. Through the policies and objectives set out in the NPF and RSES, Climate Adaptation and Mitigation measures are embedded in the plan making process. The Local Area Plan has been prepared with the purpose of integrating and implementing these policies and provisions where relevant. The approach to density, land use, design and movement is consistent with broader measures to address climate change in the areas of sustainable travel, green infrastructure, flood risk adaption and renewable energy sources, amongst others.

There are a number of ways in which a Local Area Plan can seek to reduce the carbon footprints and mitigate against the negative impacts of climate change.  These include:

  • Promote the provision of blue green infrastructure (planting of trees, hedgerows, woodlands, construction of surface water retention features such as ponds, lakes or swales);
  • Promote climate proofing in the design of buildings and neighbourhoods;
  • Promote the use of indigenous resources and adoption of new building techniques and designs that minimize energy intensive inputs;
  • Seek to improve energy performance ratings on existing and new buildings.  All new homes constructed must reach an energy performance rating in accordance with Part L – Conservation of Fuel and Energy 2019, which gives effect to Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) Regulations.

Policy CH P1: Climate Change Strategic Policy - It is policy of the Council to:

Protect and enhance environmental quality and implement the climate action measures through the planning process to address climate change.

Objective CH O1: Climate Change: It is an objective of the Council to

  1. Ensure climate-proofing measures are incorporated into the design, planning and construction of all developments, including utilities and their networks.  The use of green infrastructure as a mechanism for carbon offsetting and surface water management is encouraged.
  2. Ensure that all residential and commercial developments are designed to take account of the impacts of climate change, including the installation of rainwater harvesting systems, and that energy efficiency and renewable energy measures are incorporated. In the case of large industrial, commercial or newly constructed public buildings, the incorporation of renewable technologies, such as solar energy in the design will be encouraged, subject to compliance with all relevant planning criteria.
  3. Support and promote climate smart and the NZEB standard of building or equivalent for all new developments.
  4. Promote and support development of renewable energy sources, which will achieve low carbon outputs and promote Caherconlish as a low carbon area
  5. Support the development of low carbon and green technological businesses and industries.
  6. Promote responsible development and management of land, drainage systems and natural habitats and to encourage development at appropriate locations, which minimise the use of fossil fuels and maximises the use of local or renewable resources.

8.2 Biodiversity and Blue Green Infrastructure

The NPF recognises the role green blue infrastructure plays in assisting with adaptation and mitigation to climate change, aiding improvements in air quality and water quality, and providing benefits to biodiversity. The Limerick Development Plan’s Landscape Character Assessments describes the varied landscapes that Limerick possesses and its importance in terms of its intrinsic value and beauty but also in providing for local residents and visitors as a place to live and for recreational and tourism purposes. Caherconlish is set within the Agricultural Lowlands Landscape Character Area as defined by the Development Plan, with locally important wildlife features and habitats. The village also contains a number of open spaces, hedgerows, a playground, footpaths, an established walking route and agricultural land, all of which are valuable green infrastructure that enhances the village’s identity and sense of place.  There are a number of attractive mature trees, both individually and parts of larger stands and groups, to the south of the village, along the Groody River, and also in the village square. A number of field boundaries within the plan area, while lacking mature impressive trees, also form an essential part of the natural green infrastructure of the area. There are no nature designations in the village.

Existing trees and hedgerows are an important features supporting biodiversity and should be carefully considered in any planning application.  Applications shall seek to retain hedgerows, landscaped areas, retention or planting of trees and preservation of natural features etc. where possible. Suitable planting new edge or buffer treatments will be encouraged as part of new developments.  These areas will emphasize enhancement of local biodiversity and local surface water management, while enhancing visual amenity.   Management of invasive species, prior to and during construction shall be considered.

Other areas of important biodiversity in Limerick can include graveyards, cemeteries and green spaces.  Following a land use survey of the village, evidence of the protected Barn Owl was present within the Old Medieval Church in the centre of the village and further evidence of nesting was found within the curtilage of the graveyard.   The Council will require all new developments, where possible to identify, protect and where appropriate, enhance ecological features by making provision for local biodiversity.

Fig. 8.2 Groody River north off Main Street

 

Figure 8.3: Blue Green Infrastructure Benefits (Image courtesy of Draft Limerick City and Environs Blue Green Infrastructure Strategy

The Groody River forms Caherconlish’s principal blue infrastructure asset and is a key feature of the village, adding to the amenity value and biodiversity within the settlement.  It is a tributary of the River Shannon and therefore feeds the Lower Shannon Special Area of Conservation (SAC) adding to its importance. The closest designated site to Caherconlish is the Lower Shannon SAC at the Mulkear River, a tributary river of the River Shannon, 3.6 km to the north of the village. However this is located downstream of the River Groody which swings westwards shortly after leaving the village, to join the River Shannon itself and the Lower Shannon SAC circa 13 kilometres downstream from the village.  Although no part of the Groody River is designated as part of this SAC at any location, it is important that the Lower Shannon SAC is safeguarded to prevent ex-situ effects to the site.

Limerick City and County Council are currently preparing a Blue Green Infrastructure Strategy, which will be used to inform and guide the planning and management of GBI within Limerick City and Suburbs, Mungret and Annacotty.  Nonetheless, many of the GBI principles will be relevant to the remainder of the County where the strategy’s objectives and priority actions proposed can be adapted to suit Caherconlish.  GBI has far-reaching benefits, including the creation of places, which improve physical and mental health, contributes towards to the provision of space for nature, plays a vital role in climate change mitigation and adaptation and many economic benefits. The Draft Local Area Plan for Caherconlish includes a number of policies and objectives that will guide the direction and support the delivery and enhancement of GBI within the village.  These ‘Enhancement Opportunities’ are outlined in Table 8.1 and includes the associated key cross compatible Climate Action themes.

Fig 8.4: Image take from Draft Limerick City and Environs Blue Green Infrastructure: Climate Change Interlinking and Cross-cutting Themes

 

Table 8.1: LAP Climate Action Enhancements Opportunities

Enhancements Opportunities

Theme

  • The creation of a community park (Opportunity Site 1) providing opportunities for both active and passive recreation whilst creating additional linkages and connections into the village centre, local facilities/services/amenities and existing or proposed residential areas.
  • Opportunity Site 1 as identified, seeks to deliver an exemplar community park with a clear identity and character that responds to the natural and historic environment while still providing a place for play and recreation.

 

  • Enhance the benefits of the Groody River in the creation of a linear walk, utilising the amenity value of the river, whilst creating additional linkages, connections and access points to the Groody River.

  • Enhance existing public open space provision through the inclusion of three Opportunity Sites in support of public realm improvements, increased linkages and connectivity, increased accessible friendly outdoor seating and recreation provision.

  • Ensure connectivity/linkages and open space provision is provided for in the design of any future developments in accordance with the Development Management Standards of Chapter 11 of the Limerick Development Plan.

  • Maintain and expand the provision of active travel infrastructure to provide for accessible safe pedestrian and cycling routes route network in Caherconlish to minimise the need to travel via private transport and to create additional safe linkages and connections for pedestrians and cyclists.  Such opportunities include the provision of additional active travel infrastructure in proximity to Caherconlish National School, connections to Caherconlish/Caherline GAA Pitch and the Millennium Centre.

  • Support the integration of surface water management solutions into the landscape, including nature-based SuDS.

 

  • The Opportunity Sites identified, include the provision of tree planting in the village square and the protection of existing mature trees and hedgerows, where possible.  Tree cover in parks, open spaces, along streets will absorb many atmospheric pollutants, filter out those pollutants, reduce water run-off, improve water quality, reduce noise and provide shading to help reduce urban heat island effects.

 

  • Create a walkable and cycle friendly settlement that will improve access and quality permeability to the village centre from the village’s residential areas.

  • Enhance the Groody River to attract target species to enhance the ecological corridor.

 

 

  • Ensure connections across any infrastructure projects for biodiversity.

 

 

  • Enhance and extend established pedestrian and cycle connections improving visual amenity, sense of place and safety.

  • Utilise natural features such as the Groody River to develop a distinct character for the ecological corridor.

 

 

Table 8.2: Inventory of Blue Green Infrastructure in Caherconlish           

Feature

Local name

Condition

Asset Value

Groody River

As indicated

Good

Opportunity Site 2 - to provide a public amenity link and wildlife corridor along the Groody River – potential biodiversity and amenity corridor, increase connectivity, active lifestyles.

1.491ha site zoned ‘Open Space and Recreation’ at the back of High Street and Barrack Street

Site at back of High Street and Barrack Street

These lands consists of two fields, separated from each other by a mature hedgerow and is bordered on all sides except the south by buildings and their curtilages. The site is distinguished by a pronounced earthwork some 2,500 square metres in area, which rises about 5 metres above the surrounding fields. Location of Recorded Monument LI014-79002, LI014-079004. The eastern portion of the site abuts the medieval church (RMP LI1014-079005) and graveyard (RMPLI014-079003).

Opportunity site as a community park – public amenity, connectivity, active lifestyle and tourism potential.

Local walking loop

Creamery Walk

Walking loop from the village to the Old Creamery via High Street and linking back into the village via the R513 – sections of footpath, local road linking to Old Creamery has carrying capacity for a shared surface for majority of link with bad bends and poor visibility

Recently upgraded looped walking route for village, well used and popular among locals – public amenity value, connectivity, lifestyle

Playground

Caherconlish Community Playground

Relatively good condition but will need to be upgraded in coming years.

Constructed since the last plan was adopted – social interaction, active lifestyle

Village Square

As indicated

Grassed area in village centre with a line of three mature deciduous trees on its southern side. Needs public realm upgrade and improved pedestrian connectivity links to the surrounding road network and services.

The area is an important focal space within the village and it is therefore important to protect and enable it to work as an amenity space for the whole village – social interaction, public amenity value, connectivity.

 

Objective CH O2: Blue Green Infrastructure - It is an objective of the Council to:

a) Develop and enhance blue and green infrastructure opportunities throughout Caherconlish in line with the detail set out in Table 8.1 LAP Climate Action Opportunities. 

b) Promote the concept of blue green infrastructure and linked green/open spaces, as a means to mitigate and adapt to climate change, reduce flood risk, improve habitat/biodiversity links/corridors and improve watercourse quality, to sustain high quality robust ecosystems.

c) Promote connecting corridors for the movement of species and encourage the retention and creation of features of biodiversity value, ecological corridors and networks that connect areas of high conservation value such as woodlands, hedgerows, earth banks, watercourses, wetlands and designated sites. In this regard, new infrastructural projects and linear developments in particular, will have to demonstrate at design stage, sufficient measures to assist in the conservation of and dispersal of species.

 

Objective CH O3: Conservation of Local Species- It is an objective of the Council to

Require all developments, where there are species of conservation concern such as the Barn Owl, to incorporate from design stage, elements that will assist in the conservation of these species.

Objective CH O4: Designated Sites and Nature Conservation- It is an objective of the Council to:

Ensure no projects which will be reasonably likely to give rise to significant adverse direct or indirect or secondary impacts on the integrity of any Natura 2000 sites having regard to their conservation objectives arising from reduction in species diversity, shall be permitted on the basis of this plan (either individually or in combination with other plans or projects).

Objective CH O5: Tree Protection and Nature Conservation- It is an objective of the Council to:

Seek to protect natural stone boundary walls, ponds/wetlands, other natural features of local importance and mature trees where possible. Development that requires the felling or harming of such trees will not generally be permitted unless supported by a tree survey establishing that the subject trees are of no ecological or amenity value. Such report shall be undertaken by a suitably qualified and competent person.

8.2.1 Water Framework Directive

The European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD) was signed into law in October 2000. The Water Framework Directive (WFD) brings an integrated approach to managing water quality on a river basin (catchment) basis, in order to protect and enhance both ecological and chemical quality of rivers, lakes, groundwater, estuaries and coastal waters.

The WFD is implemented through River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) in three six-year cycles. Each cycle providing an opportunity to assess water conditions at different stages and set out actions to achieve water quality objectives. The third cycle runs from 2022-2027.  Local Authorities are responsible for the development and implementation of RBMPs at a local level.

Policy CH P2: Water Framework Directive Policy - It is policy of the Council to:

Implement changes to the management of water bodies, taking account of all aspects of the Water Cycle, in accordance with the Water Framework Directive and the principal objective of the WFD to achieve good status in all waters and to ensure that status does not deteriorate in any waters.

Fig. 8.5 Image of RPS 1046 Medieval Church

8.3 Natural Heritage and Designated Sites

Local natural and built heritage enriches and nurtures community life. As custodians for future generations, the Council seeks to safeguard and protection of the natural and built heritage as a priority.  In doing so, the Local Area Plan has a significant role in ensuring the conservation and enhancement of Caherconlish’s natural and built heritage and the natural resources of wildlife and landscape.  As a settlement develops, the demands on the environment, both natural and manmade, become greater. The role of the Council is to balance the two – preservation of a high quality environment while satisfying economic and social needs.

8.3.1 Archaeological Heritage

Caherconlish is classified as a historic town (LI014-079001) in the Record of Monuments and Places. There are a further 9 individual monuments within the village as well as another five which are historically documented, but whose precise location has been lost. The RMP also includes a roadway known as King William's Road, which is located just outside the boundary of the LAP.  The structures/monuments include earthwork, a water mill, church, castle, graveyard, road/trackway, mill, memorial stone, enclosure and the historic town. Evidence that survives in and around these sites is extremely valuable.  The Local Authority will consult with the Development Applications Unit of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and other Statutory Consultees when considering applications for planning permission for development on, or in the vicinity of archaeological sites and/or monuments. Appendix 3 provides a list of structures in the Sites and Monuments Records for Caherconlish.

Fig. 8.6 A gravestone within the grounds of the Medieval Church off Main Street

Under the provisions of the National Monuments Act Section 12, 1994 Amendment, a person proposing any works (including exempted development) ‘at or in relation to such a monument’ must give two months’ notice to the National Monuments Service. As sites continue to be discovered, some of those found subsequent to the publication (1997) have been included in the Historic Environment Viewer, which is available on the website. There are certain sites in State ownership or guardianship, or have been served with temporary preservation orders.  Under the 2004 Amendment to the National Monuments Act, any of these sites or sites deemed National Monuments in the care or guardianship of the Local Authority will require Ministerial Consent for works in their vicinity.

Objective CH O6: Record of Monuments and Places - It is an objective of the Council to:

Seek the preservation of all known sites and features of historical and archaeological interest. This includes all the sites listed in the Record of Monuments and Places, as established under Section 12 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994.

8.3.2 Architectural Heritage

Fig. 8.7 Image of Medieval Church from Main Street

8.8.2.1 Record of Protected Structures (RPS)

Limerick City and County Council is obliged to compile and maintain a Record of Protected Structures (RPS) under the provisions of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).  Under the Act, Local Authorities objectives for the protection of structures, or parts of structures of special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest are mandatory to include in the  development plan. The complete list for Limerick is available as Volume 3 of the Limerick Development Plan.  Appendix 2 of this document provides the Record of Protected Structures located within the settlement of Caherconlish.  There are 7 Protected Structures in Caherconlish, 5 of which are also listed on the NIAH.  The diversity of structures include a Constabulary Barracks, Medieval Church and Graveyard and two shop fronts.                                                                   

When considering works, including minor works to a Protected Structure, owners/occupiers are advised to contact the Conservation Officer of Limerick City and County Council, to ascertain obligations in terms of the proposed development to avoid damage to the integrity of the historical built fabric of the structure. 

Objective CH O7: Protected Structures - It is an objective of the Council to:

Preserve, protect and enhance the character of Caherconlish including all Protected Structures and attendant grounds in accordance with the best conservation practice and relevant heritage legislation.

8.4 Protected Views

Fig. 8.8 View from Catholic Church of Protected Structure No. 1047 from High Street

There are a number of important views within and on the main approaches into the village that contribute to the character and visual amenity of Caherconlish. Such views are mostly of the former Church of Ireland ruins that has a special landscape and heritage context in the centre of the village. Views of the landmark buildings, such as the Church Ruins are of particular importance in terms of appreciating the special architectural and historical significance of the buildings.  The Local Authority will ensure that any development in the village will seek to safeguard views of this historic monument are protected and enhanced by any development proposals.

Objective CH O8: Protected Views - It is an objective of the Council to:

Safeguard scenic views and vistas, most particularly of the Old Church of Ireland building and spire and views along the Groody River.  There will be a presumption against any development that would adversely affect the views and prospects and would be detrimental to the visual amenity of the area.

 

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