Wednesday 21 August 2019

Healy-Rae field decision is quashed by council

Danny Healy Rae TD
Danny Healy Rae TD

Tim Healy

KERRY County Council has agreed to quash its decision to allow a company owned by independent TD Danny Healy-Rae raise the level of a field with construction and demolition waste, the High Court heard.

Last June, the council granted permission to Healy Rae Plant Hire Limited to raise the field Kilgarvan, Co Kerry, in order to improve its agricultural output.

Environmental campaigner Peter Sweetman launched a legal challenge last July against the council and the State aimed at setting aside the decision to grant permission.

The proceedings, which were adjourned on several occasions, were mentioned before Mr Justice Seamus Noonan on Thursday.

The judge noted that the action brought by Mr Sweetman had been resolved after the council agreed to quash its decision to grant planning permission. 

Healy Rae Plant Hire Ltd, which is owned by the Co Kerry TD, was a notice party to the action, but took no part in the proceedings.

Mr Sweetman was also granted the costs of what was described as a complex action against the council.

Mr Sweetman claimed the developer obtained permission to put construction and demolition waste on a 1.8-hectare field which is poorly drained, and underlain by peaty soils.

It was claimed the company intended to put more than 50,000 tonnes of inert waste material directly on the surface of the existing vegetation and then to place grass seed on top of the levelled waste material.

He claimed the decision was flawed because the council failed to consider whether the development needed a waste licence enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The council also failed to consider any environmental impact from the proposed development including leachate, gas, or the displacement of water, it was claimed.

The field is also 1.5km from Killarney National Park Special Protection Area (SPA) and other SPAs that contain freshwater pearl mussels, lesser horseshoe bats, the marsh fritillary butterfly, otters and species of protected fish.

Planning permission was granted in material contravention of the Kerry Development Plan without an Environmental Assessment (EIA) or an Appropriate Assessment (AA) being carried out, he claimed.

Numerous objectives of the development plan had been disregarded or disapplied, Mr Sweetman also argued.

As a result he sought various declarations and orders including one quashing the council's decision of June 14 last to grant the company planning permission to import soil, stone and concrete to raise the field.

Mr Sweetman had, arising out of the council's decision to grant permission, also sought various reliefs against the State, which had applied to have the case against it struck out.

The part of the judicial review proceedings involving the State became moot after the council agreed the decision could be quashed.

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