An Bord Pleanála gives permission for Lusk dump

 

A 300,000-TONNE a year capacity regional “super dump” near Lusk, in north Co Dublin, has secured planning permission from An Bord Pleanála, three and a half years after Fingal County Council applied for the facility.

The landfill in the townland of Tooman/Nevitt has been one of the most contested developments ever proposed in Fingal, with a planning hearing on the case held on three occasions over two years and an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing held twice.

The facility now has planning permission, but must still secure a licence from the EPA before it can be built. The agency is due to give its decision next February.

The planning permission is subject to 12 conditions, chief of which is the reduction in capacity from the 500,000 tonnes a year sought by the council to 300,000. The council had in its application proposed reducing the intake of the facility to 300,000 tonnes once Dublin City Council’s Poolbeg incinerator opens.

However, the board decided the tonnage should be reduced from the start of operations in order to avoid overcapacity and to comply with the national strategy for biodegradable waste which seeks to divert “brown bin” waste from landfill.

The conditions also require the closure of an illegal dump on the site, which was there before the land was acquired by the council, and the preservation of archeological remains discovered at the site.

The first planning hearing on the development was held in October 2006 and in June 2007 the board’s inspector Des Johnson recommended permission be granted. However, the board decided to seek the direction of the Department of Environment in relation to archaeological evidence.

The department subsequently told the board that the Minister, John Gormley, who had recently been appointed, wanted an expert on the Iron Age to assess the evidence. Follow a report from Prof John Waddell, which criticised the council’s original Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the archaeology of the site, the hearing was reopened in September 2008.

The hearing was reconvened for a final time in November 2008 to consider additional information that came to light regarding the hydrogeology of the site.

The board’s decision comes as a blow to campaigners who have fought against the landfill since the site was first selected in 2004.

Gemma Larkin, of the Nevitt Lusk Action Group, said an abundant ground water source had been discovered at the site and the Government risked EU fines if development went ahead.

“Yet again the Irish authorities are completely ignoring EU regulations and risking fines from the EU . . . A viable future resource is being ignored for a quick buck.”

The action group’s legal advisers are assessing the board’s decision with a view possibly to seeking a judicial review, Ms Larkin said.

Local Green Party TD and Minister for Food and Horticulture Trevor Sargent said he was disappointed by the board’s decision.

“Because of the importance to the Fingal region of its horticultural industry, supplying over 50 per cent of the country’s vegetables, it is vital that the standard of the groundwater supply be maintained,” he said. Fingal County Council said it was considering the conditions attached to the permission and would await the decision of the EPA before making further comment.