Farm Ireland

Saturday 21 April 2018

Judge decides costs in case over 1,800 tonnes of waste dumped on farmland

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Tim Healy

A WASTE recycling company and a man who sued it for illegal dumping action will both have to pay the costs of the High Court case, a judge ruled.  

Colm Hanrahan last month lost his action against Greyhound Recycling and Recovery over the illegal dumping of waste from the company on the Hanrahan farmlands in Rathdowney, Co Laois.  

Mr Hanrahan and his late mother, Geraldine Hanrahan, had claimed that between 960 and 1,840 tonnes of material, including household waste, was dumped in a 0.4 hectrare old quarry area at Graigueadrisly between March and April 2011.   The quarry is located in an outer farmyard area, about 1.2km from the Hanrahan family home.

The Hanrahans also sought orders that Greyhound remove the waste and remediate the lands.

They had claimed Greyhound's actions amounted to trespass, negligence, breach of duty, nuisance and interference with Mr Hanrahan's economic relations with his own employer.

Greyhound denied any material from its Cragh Avenue, Clondalkin, Dublin, facility was transported and dumped on the Hanrahan lands or that it authorised such dumping.  It did not know about the dumping until informed by Laois Co Council in April 2011, it said.

Greyhound also contended the Hanrahans were not entitled to the reliefs sought in circumstances where the High Court previously found Mr Hanrahan in contempt for failing to comply with an order to remedy the effects of the dumping.   

The Hanrahans were precluded from obtaining any relief because they did not come to court with "clean hands", the company asserted.

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The case was before Mr Justice David Keane who heard evidence from Mr Hanrahan and three lorry drivers who told of delivering loads from Greyhound in Clondalkin to the Hanrahan farm.  

At the end of the Hanrahan's case, Greyhound was refused an application to dismiss the case and the company did not go into evidence.

On the basis of the evidence presented, Mr Justice Keane found as fact the Hanrahans did know of the large scale operation whereby municipal waste in "lorry load after lorry load"  arrived at the farmyard where it was discharged and then taken by tractor and trailer some 400 metres across their lands to the old quarry.

He found Greyhound was the producer of that waste, as defined by the Waste Management Act 1996, and that it was illegally dumped on the Hanrahan lands.  

The Hanrahans were debarred from obtaining the relief they sought in their action by virtue of their own wrongful conduct, he said.

The case returned before the judge on Friday when lawyers for both parties argued they should be awarded the costs of the case.

Mr Justice Keane said while questions in his judgment favoured Greyhound he had, on the other hand, found the company was the producer of the waste on the Hanrahan lands and under the Waste Management Act was also the holder of the licence to dispose of it.

In those circumstances, the successful defendant was not entitled to its costs, he said.   The plaintiff, Mr Hanrahan, who was not successful in the action, was also not entitled to his costs.   Both sides would have to therefore bear their own costs.

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