By Dan Walsh
Concerns over the potential sale of Courtown Woods and the initiation of a local petition on social media calling on Wexford County Council and local public representatives to intervene is gaining public support after alarm bells were set off by Courtown Community Council last week.
Cllr Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin, who has been liaising between Courtown Community Council and Wexford County Council management, has issued a press statement on the matter.
“Are we to be the generation that allows these public woods, which were given to the people over a century ago, to fall into the hands of private speculators? Future generations would not forgive us!” states Cllr Ó Súilleabháin.
He alleges there hasn’t been full transparency nor local consultation, “and all concerned groups-the community, the council and the liquidator must now sit down around a table as a matter of utmost urgency.”
A statement from Courtown Community Council is quite explicit. “Courtown Woods is in the final stages of being sold to a private developer. Although, like ourselves, the community welcomes new business to the area and are looking forward to the Adventure & Leisure Centre re-opening, many people have communicated concern about the transparency of sale of the Woods and the lack of engagement with the community. It is prudent that every detail of the agreement is clarified now to protect Courtown Woods before it is too late.”
Courtown Community Council is seeking urgent support to halt this sale, request that Wexford County Council confirm full protection of Courtown Woods from further development and ensure that ownership of the Woods remains within the community.
There are serious concerns that that Courtown Woods could potentially be sold on to a third party where the current agreement may no longer be valid and the needs of the community overlooked.
Plans for a new, modern hotel in Courtown have been circulating recently, while other hotels in town lie empty or demolished. “How will these new development plans impact the natural resources of the area, and will this transfer of Courtown Woods into private ownership leave the Natural Heritage Area vulnerable to continued private development?” they ask?
The statement also notes that Courtown has already suffered devastation from the loss of the beach and Blue Flag status. “We are concerned that further development in Courtown Woods could leave the area with no natural amenities for the public to utilise, which would have far-reaching socio-economic impacts on the area,” concludes Courtown Community Council.