Tuesday, May 04, 2021

By Finian Coghlan

IT LOOKS like Kildare Co Council is finally fronting up to illegal quarrying in the county by confirming that legal action is being pursued against some operators, and that “a list for enforcement action is currently being compiled”.

No detail of whom, nor how many illegal quarry owners were being pursued was revealed, however the Director of Planning Eoghan Ryan confirmed there “is one case on a consistent basis with legal”.

This was revealed at the monthly meeting of the full council last week following a motion from Ballymore Eustace representative Cllr Evie Sammon.

Can the council outline the environmental and ecological damage caused by unauthorised quarries, and the measures they are taking to address these in Kildare,” she asked.

It’s horrible living next door to one of these,” concurred her Naas MD colleague Cllr Carmel Kelly.

I had a video sent to me by people living beside one of these – at least I think it’s people, because you can’t see them for the dust,” she added.

A list of priority quarries for enforcement action is currently being compiled and reviewed by the Planning Authority [An Bord Pleaáala],” said Emer Uí Fhatharta from the Kildare Planning Section.

This list is being prioritised by them in terms of enforcement action, and a number of warning letters have been issued,” she added.

Matters considered include a broad spectrum of areas within each unauthorised quarry and include compliance with relevant Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA) legislation on the protection of the environment and the local Natura 2000 sites,” she said. (Natura 2000 is a network of nature protection areas across the European Union.) 

Arising from the issuing of the warning letters, some quarry operators have complied with the issues raised, whilst some have been referred to the council’s legal advisors for further action,” she confirmed.

I welcome the ‘priorities list’,” said Cllr Sammon, “and I ask that it be shared with councillors”.

If we’re going to go hell for leather on this, we’ll also have to write a letter [to the Minister for the Environment] looking to change legislation,” said Cllr Sammon.

She was also supported by Cllr Suzanne Doyle who suggested: “quarries should have their planning levies looked at in the future, because we never recoup the costs”.

Mr Ryan confirmed his Section had one person working fulltime on these unauthorised quarries, but that “it is cumbersome and burdensome work”.

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