A High Court judge has warned three members of a Co Laois family that they will go to jail if they fail, within one year, to clear up lands where an illegal landfill was operated and where the scale of pollution was "truly enormous".
Richard Scully, Michael Scully and Eileen Scully were ordered by Mr Justice Michael Peart to comply with a High Court order of April 2006 to stop an illegal landfill operation at lands at Knockacrin, Timahoe, Co Laois, to remove all waste on the lands to an authorised waste disposal facility and to remediate the lands.
The orders were sought by Laois County Council.
Yesterday, Mr Justice Peart said he was prepared to order the committal of the Scullys to prison for six months. He said he would suspend that order for 12 months only on condition they completed, as required by the council, the programme of works to restore the lands.
The scale of pollution of the lands was "truly enormous" and was not denied, the judge said. The only matter raised by the Scullys in the application by the council for orders under the Waste Management Acts was the method by which the lands should be remediated.
Mr Justice Peart said he would adjourn to next week the making of a final order in the case to allow the sides put forward legal submissions on the programme of works for the restoring of the lands.
In an earlier decision in January 2006, the judge had urged the Scullys to agree a timetable of events for the restoring of the lands and the parties agreed to a remedial action plan with the works to be completed by September 2006.
However, the judge said, the only works carried out had resulted in a situation where the lands were placed in an even worse position. The Scullys had contended that they were not bound by a part of the court order because the wording meant they were not specifically directed to do anything.
The judge said it was "a blatant attempt" to avoid complying with the requirements of the remedial action plan which the Scullys had agreed to and which formed the basis of the court order.
© 2007 The Irish Times