News Courts

Thursday 28 August 2014

Bid to stop waste water treatment on Lough Foyle fails

Ray Managh and Aodhain O’Faolain

Published 26/08/2013 | 16:12

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Lough Foyle

A DONEGAL man has failed in a High Court bid to block Donegal County Council’s plans to build a waste water treatment plant on the shores of Lough Foyle.

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Rejecting the arguments of local man Enda Craig against the development at Carnagave, Moville, Mr Justice John Hedigan said the local authority planned to build the plant for a population equivalent of 8,800 people.

It was envisaged the plant would encompass four pumping stations, rising mains, overflow pipelines and associated road improvement works with treated effluent falling into Lough Foyle.

Mr Craig had legally challenged the development on environmental impact grounds and the adequacy of an environmental study.  He had also alleged subjective bias on the part of a member of An Bord Pleanala who used to work for a consultant company later associated with the proposed development.

Craig claimed that a Bord-appointed inspector who had on three occasions recommended refusal of Donegal County Council’s application for planning permission for the plant had been removed from the process by Bord member Conall Boland.

Judge Hedigan said the Bord had refuted “the unwarranted allegation that Mr Boland acted inappropriately” and that the Bord’s decision had been motivated by bias.

The judge said no evidence of any kind had been produced to back up the allegations of impropriety.  Sad and sobering experience had shown that the planning process attracted egregious forms of corruption and dishonesty and constant vigilance was undoubtedly required to combat “this plague.”

He said sharp and focused litigation was certainly one of the effective tools for doing this and the courts must always be alert to any allegations of impropriety alleged to be present in the planning process.

Private individuals bringing cases before the courts should be careful in their pleadings not to unjustly indict the good name and integrity of those involved in the planning process.

To do so without solid evidence, completely absent in this case, was an abuse of the process of the court and did nothing to assist the case of good planning or environmental protection.

“In justice to the parties involved I think I must state unequivocally that Mr Boland’s good name and integrity have been thoroughly vindicated in these proceedings,” Judge Hedigan said.

“I am sorry to say that, on the other hand, the plaintiff’s credibility as a plaintiff has been badly damaged.”

The judge threw out Craig’s demand to quash the planning permissions on the basis of alleged objective bias;  failure to assess the impact on the Northern Ireland side of Lough Foyle and inadequacy of the Impact Studies.

Mr Craig has been given time to consider an appeal to the Supreme Court.

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