Friday, 2 March 2007

Fight to save Arklow Rock thrown a lifeline

This from the Wicklow People: The fight to save Arklow Rock received a massive boost yesterday (Wednesday) when An Bórd Pleanala declared that Roadstone must get planning permission before blasting the Rock's south-facing cliffs.

This means the company must go through the full planning process with Wicklow County Council, giving objectors an opportunity to lodge any objections to future blasting.

The decision has been hailed by Gabriel Gleeson, Chairman of the Arklow Rock Preservation Group.

'It's terrific news. I'm delighted,' he said.

'It was a very unfair situation and had the blasting gone ahead they would have ruined a very beautiful place.'

Wicklow County Council chairman Joe Behan, who led the council push to refer the matter to An Bórd Pleanala, said the decision was a vindication of the stand the council had taken on the issue.

He said Roadstone had previously been exempt from requiring planning permission for quarrying operations.


Last year the company announced its intention to blast the 30 metre high cliffs of the Arklow Rock to quarry the valuable granite and basalt below them

'It would have been a major change to the visual landscape and we believed this should require planning permission rather than being exempted,' Behan said

Councillors met with Roadstone management last September about their concerns and then asked An Bord Pleanala to adjudicate on the issue.

'In fairness, Roadstone put a hold on any further work on the Rock after that,' he said.

The An Bord Pleanala decision states that 'any further southwards expansion of the quarry area into Arklow Rock is development' and, as such, requires planning permission.

A Roadstone spokesperson said the company would 'consider the report and respond in due course'.

'I think this is favourable for everyone,' Cllr Behan said, 'Roadstone and the objectors can go through the planning process in a fair and objective manner.'

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