Quarry operator challenges refusal of permission for concrete batching plant

Company claims council failed to give it opportunity to respond to nine submissions

 Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

A quarry operator has claimed a council failed to give it an opportunity to respond to a number of submissions to a planning application for a new plant before it refused permission for it.

Kildare Co Council had only uploaded online nine submissions to a planning application related to a concrete batching plant on the day after it refused permission, the High Court was told.

Keegan Quarries Ltd (KQL), which wanted to build the plant at its quarry at Ballyonan, Broadford, Co Kildare, claims it was denied fair procedures when the council only made the nine submissions available on August 25 last, the day after it announced its refusal of the project. That decision is being appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

In the meantime, KQL has obtained leave from the High Court to bring judicial review proceedings over the council’s decision.

The plant, which will include a weighbridge and wheelwash, is to be located on a site of just over one hectare which is in the ownership of KQL director John Keegan’s wife Maura. Mr Keegan says KQL has already spent around €100,000 on preparing the planning application.

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan granted Martin Hayden SC, for KQL, leave to challenge the decision following a one side only represented application. The case comes back in February.

KQL seeks, among other things, an order quashing the refusal of planning permission. It also seeks a declaration the council breached its rights including fair procedures and that it was outside its powers and/or unreasonable and/or irrational.

It is claimed that during the planning process 16 third-party submissions to the KQL application were published on the council website for public inspection which the quarry had an opportunity to respond to.

However, environment engineer John Dillon, who was employed by KQL to advise on the planning application said on August 25th last he accessed the council website and saw that in addition to the refusal decision, nine other third-party submissions were published for the first time.

These submissions would have been responded to during the normal planning consideration process if KQL had been aware of them, he said. They included submissions from the council’s own departments including its heritage and environmental health officers as well as from Irish Water and the HSE.

Mr Dillon said he had never come across a situation before where a planning authority “selectively uploaded” a number of third-party submissions but failed to make available others.