Council agrees to quash permission it gave to Healy-Rae firm

High Court challenge by environmental campaiger over raising of field level with construction waste

Peter Sweetman, pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins Courts

Peter Sweetman, pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins Courts


Kerry County Council has agreed to quash its decision to allow a company owned by Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae raise the level of a field with construction and demolition waste, the High Court has heard.

The Council had last June granted permission to Healy Rae Plant Hire Limited to raise the field Kilgarvan, Co Kerry in order to improve its agricultural output.

Environmental campaigner Peter Sweetman launched a High Court challenge last July against the council and the State aimed at setting aside the decision to grant permission.

The proceedings, which were adjourned on several occasions, were briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Seamus Noonan on Thursday.

The judge noted the action by Mr Sweetman, represented by Margaret Heavey BL, instructed by solicitor Aoife O Connell, had been resolved after the council agreed to quash its decision to grant planning permission.

Healy Rae Plant Hire Ltd, owned by the Co Kerry TD, was a notice party to the action, but took no part in the proceedings.

Mr Sweetman was also granted the costs of what was described as a complex action against the Council.

In his action, Mr Sweetman claimed the developer obtained permission from the Council to fill in the field with construction and demolition waste on a 1.8-hectare field which is poorly drained, and underlain by peaty soils.

It was claimed the company intended to put more than 50,000 tonnes of inert waste material directly on the surface of the existing vegetation and then to place grass seed on top of the levelled waste material.

He claimed the decision to grant permission was flawed because the council failed to consider whether the development needed a waste licence enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The council, Mr Sweetman adds, also failed to consider any environmental impact from the proposed development including leachate, gas, or the placement of water.

The field is also 1.5km from Killarney National Park Special Protection Area (SPA) and other SPAs that contain freshwater pearl mussels, lesser horseshoe bats, the marsh fritillary butterfly, otters and species of protected fish.

Planning permission was granted in material contravention of the Kerry Development Plan without an Environmental Assessment (EIA) or an Appropriate Assessment (AA) being carried out, he claimed.

Numerous objectives of the development plan have been disregarded or disapplied, Mr Sweetman also argued.

As a result he sought various declarations and orders including one quashing Kerry County Council’s decision of June 14th last to grant the company planning permission to import soil, stone and concrete to raise the field.

Mr Sweetman had, arising out of the council’s decision to grant planning permission, also brought sought various reliefs against the State, which had brought a motion seeking to have the case against it struck out.

The part of the judicial review proceedings involving the State became moot after the council agreed the decision could be quashed.