Public concern over the sale of 5,000 acres of the Dublin Mountains by NAMA

Published by Conor Mulvihill on

28th of July 2016

This reservoir located within the Dublin mountains is a crucial link between Dublin City and the Wicklow Mountains and has seen generations of people utilize the area for passive and active recreation and for its visual amenity. The topography and planning constraints demonstrate how this area is unsuitable for commercial development. This environmental, recreational and cultural asset should be protected for long-term public enjoyment as part of Wicklow Mountains National Park.

The State is expected to buy almost 5,000 acres at Glenasmole Valley in the Dublin mountains, currently for sale by the National Asset Management Agency (Nama). The 4,900 acres, most of which lie within a special area of conservation and a special protection area, are surrounded by 200,000 hectares of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, Ireland’s largest national park. The land above the Glenasmole area includes land known as the Featherbeds. Negotiations are now at an advanced stage, and while Nama valued the land at €500 an acre with an overall price of €2.5 million, the State is likely to purchase the land at a reduced rate. Experts have estimated the final sale value to be at €1 million.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, has highlighted this issue and indicated his concern that Nama was selling land which he believed should be kept in State ownership.“[It] is a stunning wilderness and there is nothing there – not a shed and hardly a fence,” Mr Ryan said. “ It is a wildlife reserve to match any other.” The Dublin Bay South TD said 93 per cent of the site was part of Co Wicklow’s special area of conservation “and one can do nothing with it, such as put up a wind farm or buildings”.

Nama acquired the site after a developer involved in Dundrum Shopping Centre got into difficulties.  In June it was revealed that an auctioneer had been appointed to seek bids for the land, Mr Ryan reacted by raising this in the Dáil, expressing concern if a private bidder came in the price could increase to €3 million or €4 million. The department released a statement outlining how the land was a special protection area that was “a very important site for nature conservation”. It points out how Mr Ring believed that “that given its closeness to Wicklow Mountains National Park and its importance for nature conservation as an SAC [special area of conservation] and SPA [special protection area], the land in question would be very important to the national park”.

Eamon Ryan has called for the Government to retain the land for use as a national park, as 93% of it is in a Special Area of Conservation so no development can ever take place on it. A petition against the sale, started by Eamon Ryan and addressed to the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, has already been signed by over 9,000 people. It’s very likely that this area could be part of Dublin Mountains Park, as proposed by South Dublin County Council. The Council announced that implementation of this tourism strategy could bring in some €26 million and create 2,500 jobs. People use the Dublin mountains for a variety of activities such as walking, cycling and other types of activities. We’re calling on the Government to intervene and recognises that this has huge value to the State, and prevent this area from being sold.

Contact your local representative to highlight the importance of this issue!

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Conor Mulvihill

Conor is Communications Assistant with the Irish Environmental Network. His background is in science and he has a masters in international relations.