Monday, 26 February 2007

Board to quash permission for landfill

An Bord Pleanála has agreed before the High Court that its decision granting planning permission for a landfill site in Co Kildare must be overturned.
A local residents group which challenged the permission had claimed the manner in which the board had dealt with the planning application had been "peculiar throughout". The board yesterday conceded that its permission, granted on the basis of certain conditions, should be quashed because the board had reached that decision on the basis of inadequate records.
The court heard there was no record of any meeting of the board as to how the planning conditions as finally prepared were approved. The issue of how the matter should now proceed will be decided later.
The Usk and District Residents Group said the conceded shortcomings in the board's decision failed to address other matters relating to how the board had reached its decision, including the group's concerns relating to further information being sought from the landfill developer by the board after an inspector had recommended that permission be refused for the development.
The board had not followed the inspector's recommendation to refuse permission but instead directed that a further information request prepared by the inspector be issued in its entirety, the group said.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday heard submissions from the sides as to how the matter should now be addressed in light of the board's concession that its permission should be quashed. The judge said he would reserve his decision on how the planning application should be dealt with in the future.
The challenge to the board's decision of July 24th, 2006, had been brought by the residents group and related to a proposed landfill at Usk, Kilcullen, being developed by Greenstar Recycling Holdings Ltd for 200,000 tonnes per year of non-hazardous waste for 10 years.
An inspector who conducted a four-day oral hearing into the proposed landfill, submitted a report to the board in July 2005 recommending that permission be refused on four grounds. The board later sought further information from
the developer and that was assessed by the inspector who, in a second report, reduced the number of grounds for her refusal to three.
The board decided in July 2006 to grant permission on certain conditions. It said that, in deciding not to accept the inspector's recommendation to refuse permission, it had regard to national policy; a waste licence granted by the Environmental Protection Agency on June 8th, 2004; the previous use of the site as a sand and gravel quarry and the location close to the national road system.
The residents group suggested the second of the inspector's reports was delivered after the board meeting of June 20th and, therefore, it did not have the required information when it made its decision. The board later said the conditions were prepared after the June 20th meeting which, it said, was not unusual because no conditions had initially been prepared by the inspector because she had recommended refusal of permission. It said the conditions were fully discussed at the June 20th meeting.
However, because there was no record of any meeting of the board at which the planning conditions as finally prepared were approved, the board conceded its decision granting permission should be overturned.
John Collins, solicitor for the residents group, said his clients have no faith in the objectivity or impartiality of the board relating to the landfill development appeal. The manner in which the appeal had been dealt with "has been peculiar throughout", he said.
© 2007 The Irish Times

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