Monday 16 May 2011

Quarry firm challenges lands' national monument status

A QUARRY company has brought a legal challenge to a decision to designate lands owned by it as a national monument after ancient burial sites were discovered.

Keegan Quarries Ltd wants to develop lands at Trammon, near Rathmolyon, Co Meath, and is seeking orders quashing the Department of the Environment’s decision to include a section of 10 acres on the register of national monuments. That decision was made after human remains were found at two separate locations on the lands.

The company claims the department’s decision is unfair and in breach of its rights. It also claims that one of the burial sites appeared to be outside the section of lands to be included on the register of national monuments.

At the High Court yesterday, Shane Murphy SC, for the company, said it was concerned at the “leisurely manner” in which the department had made its decision.

The company wants the court to quash an order made in December 2010 by then minister for the environment John Gormley to include the lands at Trammon on the register of national monuments.

Leave to bring the judicial review proceedings was granted yesterday by Mr Justice Michael Peart.

In applying for leave, Mr Murphy said his client purchased the lands, located on either sides of the R156, for €2 million in 2005. Keegan’s had intended to develop the land to include a factory, he said.

As part of its planning application, an environmental impact report was prepared, and archaeological and geophysical surveys were conducted. Human remains were discovered on the site and the company decided to cordon off two acres on the site.

Planning permission was then sought to develop part of the site, which did not include the areas where the remains were found, counsel said.

An Bord Pleanála had turned down the planning application and the company was considering its options when it discovered earlier this year the minister had made an order including the site on the register of national monuments. The department did not inform the company of that decision, he said.

After examining material in relation to its decision, it appeared one of the burial sites was outside the section of the site to be included on the register, counsel said.

Irish Times

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