Council claims waste used to build road in conservation area

 

A DIRECTOR of a waste management company used 6,500 tonnes of waste material to build a roadway in a special area of conservation in Co Laois, the High Court was told yesterday.

Laois County Council has brought proceedings against Seán Doyle, a director of Oxigen Environmental Ltd, and his wife Mary Doyle after waste material taken from one the firm’s facilities was used to construct a roadway on lands owned by the couple at Portree and Ballymanus, near Vicarstown, Portlaoise.

The council claims the roadway was built on part of the Nore-Barrow Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and is an unauthorised development posing a risk to the environment.

It wants orders under the 1996 Waste Management Act compelling the couple, of Salterstown, Dunleer, Co Louth, to remove the material, dispose of it in a suitable licensed facility and restore the habitats to their original state.

At the outset of the case yesterday, James Connolly SC, for the couple, said the dispute now was essentially about how to rectify the situation.

Opening the action, John William Fennelly, for the council, said 6,500 tonnes plus of material were used to build the roadway and the council wanted it removed.

The council investigated the site following complaints about movement of waste to and from it, he said. They found material made of construction and commercial waste laid out on an area 7m wide and 1km long on the southern shore of the Stradbally river where it joins the river Barrow.

A similar strip 10m wide and 600m long ran along the southern bank of the Barrow. That was mainly processed waste and emitted a “strong organic” smell.

The investigators were told by someone working on the site that material was taken over three to four months from an Oxigen facility in Dublin and used to build a road in the forest for Mr Doyle.

An analysis of the material showed the waste was deposited in two layers, counsel said. The top layer consisted of construction or demolition waste while the bottom layer was made up of commercial and industrial waste such as organic material. Some material contained golf balls, tennis balls and children’s toys, he said. Other material was not inert and contained leachate and this was of concern, given the proximity of the roadway to the SAC.

In an affidavit, Mr Doyle said the lands were acquired in 1993 and permission for the construction of a roadway was obtained two years later.

An engineer’s report showed the vast majority of the material on the site was suitable for use in road construction. No further permission or licence was required for the use of the material, he said.

The case continues next week before Mr Justice John Hedigan.