Sunday 19 August 2007

Cork Council takes legal action against quarry operators

THE owners of a quarry alleged to be illegal have been told to halt all operations. Cork County Council has initiated legal proceedings against the operators of a large quarry at Curraglass, near Conna.

The quarry borders Cork and Waterford. It is believed to be a working quarry. The matter is likely to come before the district court in Tallow, Co Waterford shortly.

Officials from the council’s Enforcement Section have visited the site twice in recent months and despite the threat of legal proceedings, council sources insist there are visible signs of recent work activity.

Cllr Liam O’Doherty, who had highlighted the situation on numerous occasions at county hall meetings, yesterday welcomed the council’s get-tough policy.

The county councillor said, however, that he was concerned at the length of time it had taken to progress the matter to a legal stage.

Significantly, it was a council official who made the first complaint about the quarry on October 24, 2006. A warning letter was then issued.

“An agent working for the quarry operator contacted the council requesting a pre-planning meeting and indicated that he would submit a planning application for retention,” a county council spokeswoman said yesterday.

On November 28, an inspector from the council’s enforcement section called to the quarry and reported that, as an unauthorised development, it contravened section 151 of the Planning and Developments Acts (2000).

“In February, we were again told by the agent that an application for retention would be submitted to the council by March 9. On March 8, the council started legal proceedings,” the spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, on March 21, a planning application was finally lodged but council officials returned it to the quarry operator’s agent on as it was incomplete.

On May 8, the council received another letter from the agent saying that the application would be resubmitted with the additional information requested by the council.

“In early June, we got photographic evidence that plant and machinery were in use at the site,” the council spokeswoman said.

A planning application was finally submitted by the quarry operator last week, seeking permission to retain the quarry and temporary processing plant on an indefinite basis. The application has yet to be validated.

On the same day — August 8 — an inspector from the enforcement section visited the site again.

“There was no activity on that particular day but it appeared that work had been carried out there since the visit in June,” the spokeswoman claimed.

She said that last Wednesday the council had issued a notice to the quarry operator advising him to cease all quarrying and associated activities on the site and remove all plant and machinery.

“We will be closely monitoring the situation,” the spokeswoman said.

Mr O’Doherty said it was “high time” Cork County Council set an example.

“It’s not fair on local residents, especially when it’s hard enough to get one-off planning for houses in rural areas,” he said.

Sean O’Riordan
Irish Examiner

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