Plans to extend a quarry that has been operating in Enniscorthy since the 1960s has caused concern among local residents who say that if the application is granted it could have a detrimental affect on them.
Over 20 submissions were made to Wexford County Council about the planning application which was lodged with the local authority in July on behalf of the quarry operator, Aidan Egan.
The residents say they are already concerned about blasting at the quarry and that their concerns will only get worse if the quarry is extended.
However, when this newspaper met with Mr Egan to discuss the matter, he pointed out that the quarry has been in operation for many years without any significant affect on the environment or local residents.
With regard to the concerns of the residents over blasting, Mr Egan pointed out that all the limits regarding noise, dust and blasting levels are imposed by way of planning conditions and that those levels are based on guidance issued by authorities such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
To-date the quarry has worked within the guidelines laid down by the planning authority and when blasting takes place it's under strict monitored conditions.
Local businessman Jimmy Gahan also spoke to this newspaper about the matter and said that in all his time operating a business in the area he 'never once' had anyone raise an issue relating to the quarry.
Meanwhile, the residents claim the road is too small for the trucks that travel to-and-from the quarry, drawing material from it. They also say that because the trucks aren't covered there is a constant film of dust on their houses and on the hedgerows lining the road.
'The road is too narrow anyway for the trucks and there are certain points where if two of them met, they wouldn't be able to pass each other,' the residents said.
However, Mr Egan said that some of the lorries travelling on the road are related to construction work taking place in the area and they are not all doing business in the quarry.
He also pointed out that there are clear signs at the quarry relating to the trucks when they leave the facility which drivers must adhere to.
'The residents just do not want the quarry extended and that's our big concern,' said one of the residents living near the quarry.
Meanwhile, Mr Gahan said that while he initially had fears about the application and that plans to extend the quarry might have impinged on the local environment, he said: 'My fears proved to be totally unfounded.'
He said the application is within all aspect of planning regulations.
'I have no hesitation whatsoever in believing that Mr Egan will abide by all regulations if granted the extension he is now applying for,' said Mr Gahan.
'Furthermore, I cannot recall one instance where a complaint about the quarry was raised with me during the 17 years I was in business within half a mile of the quarry.
That was a point also highlighted by Mr Egan who said the quarry has been classified as 'essential business' and that it also supplies materials which are required for other businesses classified as being 'essential'.
'The continued supply of these materials is fundamental to the continued development of society,' said Mr Egan, in his statement to this newspaper.
'Materials [that] are used in the construction and maintenance of our roads, our schools, agriculture and housing etc,' he added.
Mr Egan also highlighted the fact that the quarry has operated over a long period of time within the accepted environmental limits imposed by the planning consent.
Some residents are concerned that the proposed quarry extension will bring the works closer to their homes, however, in response to those concerns Mr Egan said: 'Some local residents appear to believe that the proposed quarry extraction is going to move nearer residences [but] that is incorrect. The proposal is to move extraction further away.'
A point that was also emphasised by both Mr Egan and Mr Gahan is that the quarry employs local people whose livelihoods will disappear if the quarry doesn't continue.
'In addition, there would be the knock-on effect on the employment of other people employed locally,' said Mr Egan, in his statement.
'These include haulage drivers and local suppliers to the quarry operation.' he added.
The residents also raised their concerns with Cllr John O'Rourke, who told this newspaper that while he is fully supportive of development and progress he understands the issues they have.
He also suggested that the overall policy in relation to planning should be changed to include a provision whereby a major application is being lodged that will have infrastructural changes to an area where houses are located that public consultation prior to the application being lodged should be part of the process.
'I just think that in a lot of cases a lot of these type of issues would be addressed if there was a public consultation aspect to the planning process,' said Cllr O'Rourke.