PLEASE HELP US SAVE THE WRI WILDLIFE HOSPITAL

We appreciate your messages of concern, and your interest in the situation at our new site in Mornington - we, and Ireland's wildlife, very much appreciate and value your support. If you want to help us get the Wildlife Hospital up and running, now is the time to act!

We are currently submitting our planning application for the Wildlife Hospital in two stages;  Right now we are asking you to support our Stage 1 planning application (planning number 22701) which will allow retention of our assets on the site in Mornington (specifically converted portacabins and fencing). In Stage 2 WRI will seek to change of use from a driving range to a Wildlife Hospital & Education Centre

HOW YOU CAN HELP

We need you to write a submission letter to Meath County Council by 5 pm on 30th June 2022, telling them who you are and why you think Ireland needs a purpose-built, professionally run Wildlife Hospital  (see ideas in the Submission Help section).  Please refer to the fact that this is contingent on WRI being able to retain our assets on the site.

Each letter of support is charged a fee of €20 by the Council. Although we believe it should be abolished, it is a statutory fee and your payment reference number MUST BE INCLUDED in your email/letter submission. 

We know €20 is a lot of money for many, but if you feel you can afford it, we would be so grateful if you could email/post a letter of support (a "submission") to Meath County Council by 5 pm on 30th June 2022.

 

If you do not have the time to write a letter/email but would still like to help;  a once-off donation of €20 (or any amount!) will help towards the cost of an additional submission 

ONLY if you made a submission that has been acknowledged by Meath County Council, do you have the right to appeal their planning decision, should the need arise.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR SUBMISSION

Even a short paragraph will make a substantial difference in the Council's decision-making process. Tell them who you are, and why you personally want a Wildlife Hospital. Please remember to refer to the fact that this is contingent on WRI being able to retain assets that are currently on the Mornington site.

Submissions must be received by Meath County Council before 5 pm on the 30th of June 2022.

Do feel free to refer to the information in the 'Submission Help" section below but please DO NOT COPY and PASTE (that would be considered petitioning and multiple submissions would only be counted as one) 

All emails and/or letters must contain:

  • Your name 

  • Your address 

  • Planning application number 22701

  • Your payment reference number (see 'Fee' section below) 

  • Subject: In support of WRI’s planning application reference number 22701  to retain modular buildings and fencing

EMAIL

Send your letter of support to planning@meathcoco.ie

POST

Address your letter of support to Meath County Council at the address below 

Planning Department

Meath County Council

Buvinda House,

Dublin Road

Navan, Co Meath

FEE

As noted above the Council charge a fee of €20 for every submission*

How to pay:

  • In-person at the Council office – by cash, cheque, postal order or credit card

  • Over the phone – by credit card
    If payment is made by card to the Council’s Planning Department (tel: 046-9097500), your submission must be emailed first, then followed up with a phone call to make payment by card. Remember to ask for confirmation of payment to be sent to you by email in addition to postal receipt.

  • By post – by cheque or postal order with your submission 
    cheques and Postal Orders should be made payable to ‘Meath County Council’

*WRI Fee Assistance- We are aware we’re asking a lot of you so if you want to help but can’t afford the fee – send your submission to us (at WRI, 10 High Meadows, Duleek, Co Meath, or email it to projects@wri.ie) and we will endeavour to send in as many as we can afford.

RECEIPT

On receipt of submission and fee, Meath County Council is obliged to

  • acknowledge your submission

  • inform you of the planning decision (within 3 days of them making the decision)

MEATH COUNTY COUNCIL PLANNING DEPT CONTACT DETAILS

For submission queries you can contact Meath County Council on:

Telephone: 046-9097500 

Email:  planning@meathcoco.ie
 

We can't do this without you, thanks so much for your time and your support 

 
 
 

SUBMISSION HELP AND INSPIRATION
Feel free to refer to the information in the section below in your submission but please DO NOT COPY and PASTE (that would be considered petitioning and multiple submissions would only be counted as one).

CLICK ON THE TOPICS BELOW TO LEARN MORE​
 

Help To Address The Climate & Biodiversity Crisis 

In May 2019 the Dáil voted upon and declared both a National Climate and Biodiversity Emergency, making Ireland the first country in the world, after the UK, to do so. According to the Article 17 Report to the European Commission on the implementation of the EU Habitats Directive, 15% of species in Ireland have an “inadequate status” with another 15% identified as having a “bad status”. Species are now in decline by 15% compared to a 10% decline between 2007 - 2013, showing a negative trend from 6 years previous.


 

In response, Ireland’s Biodiversity Sectoral Climate Change Adaptation Plan identifies climate change as one of the main stressors impacting biodiversity loss in Ireland. The plan aims to protect biodiversity from the impacts of climate change and to conserve and manage ecosystems so that they deliver services that increase the adaptive capacity of people and biodiversity. 

Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland’s (WRI) mission is to promote and improve wildlife rehabilitation, welfare and conservation across Ireland. In addition, to our direct conservation-related rehabilitation activities, we also advance the protection of wild animals and their habitats through education, advocacy and outreach. Given the interconnected nature of natural systems, by necessity, this requires the promotion not only of direct animal rehabilitation issues but also wider issues arising from human impacts on the environment, such as wildlife crime, wildlife-human conflicts, environmental degradation and pollution, habitat loss and the climate emergency.

Ireland's National Biodiversity Plan Actions for Biodiversity 2011-2016 was published in 2011, and Action 1.7 of this plan states: 'Each local authority to publish a Local Biodiversity Action Plan or review existing plans. The first and second Meath Biodiversity Action Plans outlined and consolidated the framework for addressing threats so that habitats and species can be conserved. The second Plan (2015-2020) outlines the crucial functions of conserving the biodiversity of national and local importance, raising public awareness of and involvement in the conservation of biodiversity and providing a basis for monitoring the success of conservation of biodiversity at a local, regional and national level.

 

These are all functions which the WRI Wildlife Hospital and Education Centre can implement, in a very practical sense through improving the survival of key Irish species by on-the-ground rescue and rehabilitation (and recording casualty and release data which will feed into the National Biodiversity Data Centre); and secondarily through training and capacity building via our courses and Education Centre. 

 

The Meath County Council Corporate Plan 2019-2024 vision for Meath is ‘To make Meath the lead county for economic prosperity, social development and environmental protection..' we feel WRI’s work, as detailed above, fits in perfectly with this vision. The establishment of the Wildlife Hospital and Education Centre in Mornington will put Meath front and centre in Ireland’s efforts to address the biodiversity crisis and climate emergency. The overall focus to improve the management of biodiversity and expand upon current protected areas and species will contribute to the implementation of the UN Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

Sustainable Development Goals

While our core focus is the rehabilitation and protection of wildlife, for our activities to be effective and sustainable wider engagement in environmental issues is key. This includes cooperation and engagement with Ireland’s other environmentally-minded organisations, such as the IEN to help drive environmental policy changes and improve enforcement through strong advocacy activities.

 

By working to improve the status of wildlife in Ireland, we are simultaneously contributing to a broad range of SDGs, as outlined above. Therefore we are contributing to advancing Ireland’s implementation of these sustainable development goals.

Environmental Benefits

Environmental Sustainable Development Goals WRI activities relate to a broad number of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Anthropogenic activities are driving a sixth mass extinction event globally, it is only by combatting a broad range of human impacts in a connected and holistic manner that we can hope to reverse Ireland’s wildlife and the biodiversity crisis.

Rehabilitation -  Life on Land (SDG 15) 

WRI directly supports the rehabilitation of wildlife throughout Ireland, ranging from birds and land mammals to seals. Every year, more than 4,000 orphaned, injured or sick wild birds and mammals from all across Ireland, are treated by vets/rehabilitators nationwide.

Marine Conservation – Life Below Water (SDG 14)

WRI raises public awareness of the plight of marine species, which are facing a plethora of anthropogenic threats. WRI directly supports seal conservation (a crucial marine keystone species) for example through our small project grant funding of Seal Rescue Ireland. WRI also applied to the Save Our Seas Foundation (June 2020) to raise funds to enable research and educational activities related to Irish Chondrichthyes (sharks, skates and rays) species to be conducted.

 

WRI has also established links with the University of Florida’s Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience and Sea Turtle Hospital,  which conducts marine focussed rehabilitation, conservation and research activities (e.g. sea turtle rehabilitation, marine plastic and environmental pollution research, habitat restoration activities and human-induced diseases and human impacts on marine wildlife health).

Climate Action (SDG 13)

WRI's key SDG Climate Actions in line with WRI operations: WRI’s advocacy, education and research activities help to highlight the effects of climate change on Irish fauna, and our promotion of natural habitat restoration advocacy helps to address Irish climate change goals (e.g. reforestation with native species). Similarly, Ireland’s extant megafauna play a crucial role in maintaining natural habitats. For example, their soil disturbance and seed dispersal activities facilitate the renewal and spread of natural habitats which act as carbon sinks (e.g. forests).

 

By protecting and rehabilitating such species WRI indirectly improves Ireland’s ability to counter the growing climate crisis. Our outreach and advocacy activities directly impart an understanding of the plight of wildlife and humans affected by global warming to the general public, assisting with keeping climate-related issues at the forefront of national discourse and governmental policy formation. 

Pollinator Plan

Meath County Council has signed up as partners to the All Ireland Pollinator Plan. Unfortunately, many of our pollinators are now threatened with extinction. By becoming a partner Meath County Council agrees to support the ethos of the Plan and to consider it in its policies, plans and management decisions.

Over the past 6 months, WRI has cultivated wildflower pollinator pockets with connecting nature corridors to sustain plant communities by pollinating native plants that provide food, nesting and shelter for wildlife. 

Long-term sustainable and viable food production systems are reliant upon healthy functioning ecosystems and their wildlife. WRI supports the Zero Hunger SDG by rehabilitating crucial keystone species, advocacy for improved wildlife crime protection (enforcement of existing Irish and European legislation) and the promoting the protection and restoration of natural habitats which are crucial for biodiversity, including essential pollinator species, and ecosystem services vital to sustainable agriculture.

Habitats Directive

As per the (MCDP), Meath County Council has pledged to encourage, pursuant to Article 10 of the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), the management of features of the landscape, such as traditional field boundaries, important for the ecological coherence of the Natura 2000 network and essential for the migration, dispersal and genetic exchange of wild species.

To this end over the course of 3 months WRI, with the help of 60 local school children, planted native Irish trees and hedgerows to reinforce and replace gaps in the field boundaries on the site.

Economic & Employment Benefits

Since our arrival in Mornington in Jan 2022 WRI has been building up strong relationships with the local community and already we are working closely with local suppliers and businesses which has benefited the local economy.

WRI is already providing employment to a few individuals, all from the locality. We also have an active Tús programme with existing participants. Tús is a community work experience programme that offers a quality work experience for people who have been out of work. All Tús work placements are in community organisations that benefit from additional human resources to deliver their services.

 

The economic value of biodiversity itself to Ireland has been calculated as at least €2.6 billion per annum (IEN, 2012).  

Natural Heritage Benefits

The Heritage Act, 1995, identifies fauna as forming part of the national heritage, as does Heritage at Heart (National Heritage Council Strategy 2018-2022) which mentions ‘Our distinctive native wildlife.’

 

Some of the species which will be rehabilitated in these enclosures are emblematic Irish species of bats and birds which form a vital part of our natural, ecological heritage. Therefore, by proposing the establishment of the permanent WRI Hospital, WRI believes that we are applying good heritage management practices in carrying out works which respond to the conservation needs identified in the various conservation directives, strategies, guidelines and wildlife management plans (as well as national and EU laws).

 

Outlined below. Two types of animals which we frequently rescue and rehabilitate are of particular concern with respect to the conservation of our natural heritage:

Bats
In view of their status across Europe, all species of bat in Ireland have been listed in Annex IV of the EC ‘Habitats and Species Directive’ (see 2.1 Legislation) and some, such as the lesser horseshoe bat, are further listed in Annex II. The domestic legislation, which implements this directive, combined with the Wildlife Acts (1976 & 2000), ensures that individual bats are fully protected. In addition, The National Parks & Wildlife Service’s (NPWS) Bat Mitigation Guidelines identify bats as an environmental indicator species which means that their presence indicates a healthy environment, and their absence means that the integrity of the landscape is damaged in some way.

 

Bats and their roosts are protected by Irish and EU law because all species have declined, and some are threatened or endangered. Because of their conservation importance and their value as biodiversity indicators, Species Action Plans are being devised for all Irish bat species by the National Parks and Wildlife Service; these contain objectives relating to the maintenance and restoration of bat populations.  Thus, it is generally accepted that bat populations remain at risk and that the objectives of WRI are to prevent any further losses by rehabilitating and releasing orphaned and injured bats. 


Birds
The aviary structures proposed to be built at this site would allow for the care of small birds, waterfowl and raptors. Raptor species are at particular risk due to their low population density and long generation times. These factors, along with their elusive behaviour, make the conservation of raptors extremely challenging. However, as apex predators and a flagship Irish species, raptors, through conservation measures, can contribute greatly to the health of the ecosystems they inhabit, and thus their conservation is vital. 


Such conservation measures include the development and enforcement of legislation protecting species and the reintroduction of raptor species into areas where they previously inhabited. Raptors are protected under the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC), the Wildlife Act (1976) and the Wildlife (Amendment) Act (2000). In Ireland, there have been three raptor reintroduction programmes to date – Golden Eagle, Red Kite and White-Tailed Sea Eagle. These reintroduction programmes have suffered from human persecution such as poisoning, shooting as well as traffic collisions. In order to sustain these efforts, it is vital that each injured and orphaned raptor is rescued and restored to its habitat, and it is also important that information is gathered about the causalities.  


In a recently published Irish Wildlife Manual, the NPWS issued a review of the incidents impacting birds of prey between 2007-2019 in Ireland. Collating these incidents is a collaborative venture between the NPWS, the Veterinary Laboratory Service and State Laboratory and the approach is known as the RAPTOR (Recording and Addressing Persecution and Threats to Our Raptors) protocol. This protocol was set up with the aim of formally investigating bird of prey injury and mortality in Ireland and it entails various methods such as the collection/handling of carcasses/injured birds and evidence, X-rays, Post-Mortem examinations, DNA sampling, toxicological testing, data analysis and reporting. Birds which would be brought to our enclosures for rehabilitation due to suspected persecution incidents would undergo these tests, and the data would be fed back to RAPTOR to support the targeted protection of these vulnerable populations. 

 

We also believe that this project supports the proposed Objectives and Actions of the (Draft) Meath Biodiversity Action Plan 2015-2020

  • Objective 1: To raise awareness of biodiversity in Meath, its value and the issues facing it

  • Objective 3: To conserve and enhance habitats and species in Meath

  • Action 17: Provide bat survey training to community groups to include development impacts on bats and bat handling 

As well as the actions laid out in Heritage Ireland 2030– New National Heritage Plan, specifically:

 

  • Develop a national wildlife management framework to set out the number of wildlife sanctuaries, wildlife hospitals, rehabilitation centres, policies and sanctions

  • An integrated approach to the protection of biodiversity 

  • Act on the recommendations of BirdWatch Ireland on the mitigation of bird mortality on motorways and the impact on birds & wildlife from the greenways.

Heritage Education, Community and Outreach 

Wildlife care would not be the only purpose of this new facility, the focus would also be on education and research. As an important element of the protection of wildlife, education will be provided in the hospital buildings and will also be supplemented externally with courses, lectures and workshops.

 

This will include the opportunity to earn professional development credits. Students, local community groups, and researchers could also avail of opportunities to undertake research which would be expert-fed, not expert-led, with the view that enriching local awareness and expertise with regard to ecological heritage can shape and lead the management of protected areas for these species of wildlife. This would ultimately reduce the amount of injured and orphaned bats and birds and other mammals. 


As per the MCDP Cultural and Natural Heritage Strategy, Meath County Council has pledged to identify, protect, conserve and manage the cultural and natural heritage of the County and to encourage its sensitive integration into the sustainable development of the County for the benefit of present and future generations.


The Wildlife Hospital and Education Centre will have spin-off benefits for the local community. Meath will be able to advertise the fact that is the home of Ireland’s only Wildlife Hospital and a national centre for wildlife and biodiversity knowledge which will sit nicely with the county’s reputation as a centre for heritage and culture and add to the many attractions the county offers.


As observed in the Meath CDP, the expansion of the tourism sector in Meath is positively influenced by the county’s cultural and natural heritage.


Social benefits

WRI has been "cleaning-up" the derelict shop and its surrounds for the past 5 months with local volunteers and a team of corporate volunteers. The cleaning revealed the full extent of the damage to the building, so work was undertaken to repair the damage, paint over the graffiti, and generally tidy the surrounding area. The activity on the site, and the installation of security cameras, have put an end to antisocial behaviour, graffiti, theft, fires, and general property destruction.


We have developed relationships with many local people and through them have gained volunteers, been invited to give talks to schools, created relationships with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and agreed to provide educational opportunities for these groups.


Incorporating a Nature Education Centre with a Wildlife Hospital which will be open to the public will help educate people on the inextricable link between animals, our environment, and our own health and wellbeing. It will also help people to reconnect with nature and understand the importance of the natural world in our lives which has huge mental and physical health benefits.


Health and Well-being SDG 3 benefits

WRI is committed to the conservation and rehabilitation of native species and the preservation and restoration of natural environments, which benefits not only native flora and fauna but also the human population.

 

A functioning environment, including wild animal populations, has direct benefits to human health and wellbeing. Additionally, there are proven health benefits to humans from exposure to nature. Furthermore, there is a well-established link between ecosystem (EcoHealth) and animal health with that of humans (One Health).

 

The combination of encroached and persecuted wildlife and industrial-scale agriculture has been shown to increase the rate of zoonotic disease transmission leading to human pandemics such as Ebola, Sars and Covid19. In addition to helping to maintain wild animal health, WRI is enshrining One Health approaches and animal pathogen biomonitoring in the research and veterinary activities of our Rehabilitation Hospital.

 

Cultural benefits

Creative Ireland is the main implementation vehicle for the priorities identified in Culture 2025/Éire Ildánach. Pillar 1 describes 'Enabling the Creative Potential of Every Child: Creativity begins in the early years of education. Children flourish through creative activities such as imagining and creating roles, scripts and ideas, sharing stories and symbols of their culture, and using the creative arts to express ideas and make meaning.


WRI has hosted stalls at various festivals and events nationwide and at these stalls, we offer artistic/creative opportunities for young people to engage in drawing, clay modelling, wildlife enrichment, citizen science activities, wildlife biodiversity and food webs etc.  Our bi-weekly Summer ‘Wild Child’ events programme is due to commence on the 7th of July.


Meath County Council is proud to be at the forefront of support for the arts, heritage and literature in Meath, support which ensures meaningful cultural engagement, delivery of Creative Ireland objectives and participation for the county’s citizens.

Educational benefits

In addition to conducting rehabilitation activities, WRI has active programmes directed against wildlife crime (poaching, baiting etc.), and towards the training of a national network of volunteer rehabilitators, and public education on wildlife and habitat destruction-related matters.

 

In August 2022 WRI is jointly hosting, with PAW Ireland, another Wildlife Crime & Conservation Conference. This conference will identify some of the threats, challenges, and solutions to resolve these issues.


WRI seeks to provide quality education (SDG target 4); life-long learning, outreach and public engagement with the general populace, with an emphasis on developing a curriculum-based series of modules to raise awareness in children (the next generation of environmentally conscientious citizens) through our social media, webinars, media contributions and advocacy.
It is important to protect and conserve wildlife in its own right, but these animals (particularly keystone species) also provide crucial ecosystem services and functions, which cannot be replicated in biodiversity poor habitats.
 

Appropriate Assessment Screening Report (AASR)

Prepared in accordance with the provisions of Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive and Section 177U of the 2000 Act.

 

Extracts from the AASR:

The purpose of this document. This document provides for the screening of an application to retain a development at Tower Road Mornington, Co. Meath A92 F2NF.


Under the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), and the Birds and Natural Habitats Regulations 2011,  the planning authority cannot grant planning permission where significant effects may arise to a Natura 2000 site.


In order to make that decision, the development must be screened for AA. This report provides the necessary information to allow Meath County Council to carry out this screening.


Conclusion

Finding of No Significant Effects. On the basis of the screening exercise carried out above, it can be concluded that the possibility of any significant impacts on any Natura 2000 sites, whether arising from the project itself or in combination with other plans and projects, can be excluded beyond a reasonable scientific doubt on the basis of the best scientific knowledge available.

Detailed ‘Assessment of Significant Effects’ 

Full document accessible via Council’s e-planning portal: https://www.eplanning.ie/MeathCC/AppFileRefDetails/22701/0