The Save the Boyne group claim they have been “muted” by An Bord Pleanala’s decision not to hold oral hearings to deal with appeals over its decision to grant Dawn Meats permission for a water treatment facility at its Slane plant.
All appellants who requested and paid an additional €50 (on top of the €220) for an oral hearing received a letter from An Bord Pleanála disclosing that there will be no oral hearings as the case is “not particularly complex and does not significantly involve national or local issues”.
In the letter, Gary Dorgan, Executive Officer at An Bord Pleanála said, “The Board has considered the request and in accordance with section 134(3) of the Planning and Development Act 2000, (as amended), it has decided to determine the appeal without an oral hearing.
“The Board has concluded that the appeal can be dealt with adequately through written procedures. The Board has absolute discretion to hold an oral hearing and generally holds one where this will help its understanding of a particularly complex case or where it considers that, in a case involving significant national or local issues, the written submissions need to be supplemented by an oral hearing of the issues.
"Processing of the appeal will not continue and you will be notified of the Board’s decision as soon as it is made.”
Mog Downey, spokesperson for Save the Boyne Group, said, “How can the preservation of a river that runs through a national heritage site have no national or local significance? The entire process is completely disempowering to the public.
“Our local political representatives apparently have no voting power to represent the people in planning issues – it all comes down to faceless planning officers.
“Our local council, Meath County Council may as well have ignored the 420+ objections that were originally submitted in April 2021.
"The issue has been covered by National Newspapers, UK Times, RTE News, Local Radio, Local newspapers online and offline, The Meath Chronicle and Apriland News,” added Mog.
“And then the can is kicked to An Bord Pleanála who are supposed to be an independent national body adhering to their own mission statement ‘to play our part as an independent national body in an impartial, efficient and open manner, to ensure that physical development and major infrastructure projects in Ireland respect the principles of sustainable development, including the protection of the environment.’
“The River Boyne is our heritage and our future. We have an inadequate and unacceptable system, process or whatever you want to call it for deciding on matters relating to our hugely significant natural resources,” concluded Mog.