Sunday 20 April 2008

Court told of 'conspiracy' by airport authority and developer over land

THREE WOMEN who previously owned a tract of land beside Dublin airport, which was rezoned in the 1990s, have alleged before the High Court that there was a conspiracy between the Dublin Airport Authority and developers Dunloe Ewart plc to prevent their family getting planning permission for the property.

Anne Donegan, Lucy Donegan and Anne O'Malley had initiated proceedings against the Minister for Transport, Aer Rianta (now the Dublin Airport Authority) and Dunloe Ewart but, in a judgment on a preliminary issue in the case yesterday, Mr Justice Brian McGovern granted an application on behalf of the Minister to have the case against him struck out.

The case will now proceed against Aer Rianta and Dunloe Ewart.

The women had claimed misrepresentations were made by the Minister and Aer Rianta during objections to the applications for planning permission. The women claim the alleged misrepresentations were made between 1990 and 1995 when they, or their predecessors in title, sought to develop a 32.5 hectare (80 acre) piece of land at Harristown, beside the airport, for commercial purposes.

The land was rezoned in 1993 by the then Dublin County Council for development of aviation-related warehousing. The land was owned at the time by brothers John and Frank Donegan.

Mr Justice McGovern said the three women made allegations of conspiracy by Aer Rianta and Dunloe but no such allegation was made against the Minister.

The judge noted the women claimed that, because they believed the airport authority and Dunloe would continue objecting to their planning applications, there was no real prospect of the lands being developed and they sold the lands to Monaer Ltd.

The women alleged that Aer Rianta and Dunloe later entered into a joint venture to develop part of the lands for warehousing, and planning permission for this was granted, the judge said.

He said the women claimed they were deliberately misled by the Minister for Transport and Aer Rianta in the objections to the permission, principally in relation to the proper planning and development of the airport, the location of the lands to runways and safety considerations related to the operation of the airport.

The women claimed those policy objections, made during planning applications by them or their predecessors, were bogus and/or non-existent, and they claim to have suffered loss as a result.

The Air Navigation and Transport (Amendment) Act 1998 was clear and unambiguous that any claim arising should lie against Aer Rianta and not the Minister, the judge said.

The Irish Times

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