Monday 5 October 2009

Four years' worth of planning files missing in Fingal

FINGAL County Council is missing four years' worth of planning files due to an "ad hoc and haphazard" approach to filing, it has said.

The authority was asked to furnish records of planning applications around Dublin Airport stretching back over four decades as part of an ongoing investigation into controversial planning policy.

Aggrieved landowners in north County Dublin believe they were systematically prevented from securing planning permission due to 'red zone' restrictions, which designate areas under flight paths deemed unsafe to build on.

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has since unveiled plans for a €4bn Dublin Airport City, much of which, landowners say, will fall within those controversial red zones.

At a recent Fingal County Council meeting, Fine Gael's Anne Devitt sought records on all proposed developments in the red zones since 1968 and details on who objected to them.

However, an official response to the query stated that while the task would be enormous, many of the files were simply not kept.

"The files from 1967 to 1994 were microfilmed in an ad hoc and haphazard manner and not all of the files were microfilmed," a statement said.

"The files from 1994 to 1997 were never microfilmed and are no longer available and the files from 1997 to 2003 are stored off site."

Landowner Ken O'Carroll was refused permission to develop both a hotel and a car park in the red zones in 1996, the same period as the files that are deemed "no longer available".

He has been fighting Aer Rianta, now the DAA, for years to get answers as to the apparent double standard in planning that forced him to sell his land while the DAA developed in areas forbidden to everyone else.

O'Carroll insists that compensation is not the issue but that reasonable answers must be given to locals whose lands were "sterilised" of value by the restrictions.

"I could have said that is enough, I'm out of here, but I can't because of how badly people have been treated. A lot of them don't have the power to fight this," he said.

"Everyone's land was sterilised under this and you had no comeback and no compensation. No one will tell us who put in these red zones. We are trying to just get an answer."

A spokesman for the DAA said that the old red zones had since been deemed unsuitable and a new system is now being put in place.

Sunday Tribune

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