Quarrying in ‘exceptional’ public amenity area must cease

Shillelagh Quarries Ltd must wind down work on 3.27-hectare area at site near Brittas

A quarrying operation in "an area of exceptional public amenity" must cease, the High Court has ruled.

Ms Justice Marie Baker will make orders later specifying when winding down work must be done by Shillelagh Quarries Ltd in a 3.27-hectare area at the 25-hectare site near Brittas, Co Dublin, on the north-facing slope of the 465-metre Butter Mountain.

Two special areas of conservation (SACs) are located nearby.

Cessation and remediation

Michael McCoy, a member of the Dublin Mountain Conservation Group, and South Dublin Co Council, sought orders for the cessation and remediation of works already carried out at the site.


They claimed two determinations by An Bord Pleanála in December 2010 that the work was unauthorised were binding, there was a material change of use and abandonment of a previous use.

The case was against Shillelagh and the site owners, John, Declan, Thomas, Sandra and Michael Murphy.

The respondents claimed the works had commenced prior to the coming into force of planning legislation in 1964 and were therefore exempted and not unauthorised.

They also argued the case was time barred and/or the council and Mr McCoy were guilty of such prolonged and unexplained delay that the court should refuse the orders sought.

Ms Justice Baker said Shillelagh carried on a significant commercial activity and “continued to do so notwithstanding a refusal to grant planning permission by the board in 2010”.

While the visual impact of the quarry is in “a relatively small window”, the quarrying work “has created a discordant landscape in an area of exceptional public amenity”, she said.

Injunctive relief

If she were to refuse injunctive relief, she would be failing to recognise the respondents “have ignored two determinations which had the practical and legal consequence that the activity in which they were engaged was unlawful in terms of Irish and European law”.

She was satisfied there was no culpable delay on the part of Mr McCoy in bringing proceedings, and the respondents had not shown any prejudice as a result of delay on the council’s part.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times