LEGISLATION TO control the development of quarries is to be amended following the failure of a registration system which was introduced in 2005.
The obligation to register a quarry with the local authority was aimed at bringing all quarry operations within the planning process and minimising their environmental impact.
Thousands of quarrying operations applied for registration and public notices naming the quarries and inviting submissions and observations were published.
Where a quarry was deemed to be compliant, conditions, including the payment of development contributions, were imposed by the authorities.
But an 18-month investigation by Friends of the Irish Environment revealed a widespread lack of enforcement on quarries which failed to be compliant.
A subsequent complaint about the lack of enforcement by local authorities, to Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, resulted in the Department of the Environment determining that the process was in fact unenforceable, as “the Act did not provide a mechanism for pursuing legal proceedings for non-compliance”. In relation to the test case in Co Cork, the Ombudsman explained she could not make a finding of maladministration against a local authority if they could not take a legal remedy.
A spokesman for Minister for the Environment John Gormley said he was “concerned that there are significant deficiencies in section 261 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 . . . The plan is to address these deficiencies within the proposed Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill”.