Serial planning objector sought confidential €40,000 from developer

Payment pursued as compensation for alleged environmental impact from construction activity near Co Meath home

John Callaghan, the man revealed as a serial planning objector in an RTÉ Investigates programme earlier this month, sought a confidential €40,000 cash payment from a developer as compensation for alleged adverse environmental impacts of construction activity near his home in Co Meath.

On August 12th, 2019, Mr Callaghan sent a draft agreement to Micheál McKeon, the developer behind the Park Rí service station in Kells, alleging that the deposition of soil material in the vicinity of the construction site was the cause of noise nuisance, vibration, property devaluation, infringement of daylight and general disturbance to him at his property in the Cloisters, a housing estate beside the development.

According to a letter sent to Mr Callaghan by a solicitor acting for Mr McKeon, seen by The Irish Times, Mr Callaghan sought payment of €40,000 from Mr McKeon “by way of cheque made payable to, ‘pay cash’”.

In addition to the €40,000 lump sum, Mr Callaghan proposed, as part of the agreement, that in the event the deposited material was not removed within two years, Mr McKeon should pay a further €5,000 per year to him, until the material was removed, or after seven years had elapsed.


A condition included the proposed agreement stipulated that the parties involved keep all matters relating the agreement “strictly confidential”.

In a meeting with Mr Callaghan on August 15th, 2019, Mr McKeon refused to pay the proposed fee.

The solicitor’s letter outlined several instances of Mr Callaghan calling to the development site in Kells, alleging that he engaged in threatening behaviour towards workers at the site, including photographing and filming a contractor.

In response to queries, Mr Callaghan said that his dealings with Mr McKeon were “entirely lawful”.

In December 2019, Mr Callaghan lodged an enforcement complaint with Meath County Council alleging that activity at the construction site constituted an unauthorised development causing environmental damage.

He alleged that the deposition of waste soil outside of the boundaries of the construction site constituted an unlicenced landfill — and listed various claims of adverse environmental impacts connected to the waste soil — including noise and dust emission, and rainwater run-off.

In a statement, Meath County Council said it received two complaints in 2019 regarding unauthorised developments at the site.

“The council’s planning enforcement department found that there were no breaches of planning on the site and subsequently closed the cases,” it said.

The council said that a further complaint relating to the site was received in November 2023. “We have asked the complainant to submit evidence [in] relation to their allegations. This is ongoing.”

The service station opened in October 2020.

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Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist