Planning required for future Slane concerts


FUTURE music events at Slane Castle in Meath will need planning permission, the High Court ruled yesterday.

Mr Justice Kelly rejected proceedings taken against Meath County Council by Lord Mount Charles, owner of Slane Castle demesne. Outdoor pop concerts attended by 20,000 to 100,000 people have been held on a 22-acre section of the 600-acre estate in nine out of the past 15 years and another is planned for 1997.

Earlier this year the county council issued a warning notice, under planning legislation on Lord Mount Charles. It said unauthorised use of part of the estate was likely if an unauthorised concert took place there. It warned of proceedings if there was a failure to comply with the notice requirements.

Yesterday the court refused Lord Mount Charles's application to quash the notice. The court had been told that this year, for the first time, Meath County Council, in common with other local authorities, realised that such concerts might fall within the ambit of the Planning Act.

Mr Justice Kelly said it was perhaps remarkable the council had not previously taken the current action. The local authority had cooperated in the organisation of the concerts from 1992 onwards.

Lord Mount Charles submitted that the use of the lands on an annual or semi-annual basis for concerts became part of the normal use of the lands, albeit that such was unauthorised.

In his judgment, he said Lord Mount Charles had failed to demonstrate that the holding of concerts on the lands was carried on to a sufficient extent and with sufficient regularity to constitute part of the normal use of those lands.

When the activity was carried on, the normal use of the lands (agricultural) was changed to that of use for a pop concert. When the concert ended, the lands reverted to their normal agricultural use.

As it was conceded that the activity required planning permission, it followed that permission was required whenever a concert was held. Future events must likewise be subject to planning permission before they could be carried on in a lawful fashion.

Mr Justice Kelly said that last April the council wrote to Lord Mount Charles advising him that holding a concert at Slane Castle might be a development requiring planning permission. This was confirmed at a meeting in May. Because of that, the earl announced no concert would take place in 1996.

Lord Mount Charles said he had been holding concerts over a period of 15 years and was at, a loss to know why the council felt the need to refer the matter to the courts now. In a letter in September he had said he was proceeding with a 1997 concert.

The judge ruled that each side should bear its own costs.