Dangers of unauthorised quarries

A lack of enforcement of environmental and planning laws

Sir, – Friends of the Irish Environment is a small entirely voluntary organisation with very limited funding, dedicated to ensuring that our environmental laws are complied with in the interests of public welfare and the common good in ensuring a healthy and flourishing natural environment. We are contacted by many communities and concerned citizens across the State with environmental issues in their local area who are frustrated with the lack of enforcement of environmental and planning laws by their local authorities, which are effectively the only public authority with enforcement powers.

We are no longer able to keep up with the reports of unauthorised quarries that we are receiving from a public that is afraid to report these activities themselves to the relevant authorities because of fear of consequent intimidation. The operators, who often boldly boast of their immunity to planning and environmental law, support and encourage a scoff-law culture that is now widespread in rural Ireland.

Operators without any planning permission –or those that exceed the limits of their planning or continue after its expiration – range from small-time operators providing soil to new-builds to suppliers for significant national and regional infrastructure projects being funded by the taxpayer.

Yet the solution is simple – and has been raised unsuccessfully many times by lone Independent county council members. Just as contractors are required to show proof of tax compliance before receiving public funds, councils and Government departments should require proof of a valid current planning permission and licensing (when necessary) before signing any contracts. It is to us a cause of some incredulity that this simple change has been successfully resisted again and again.


Similarly, An Garda Síochána, required to accompany explosive deliveries, should also be required to have proof from the operator of a valid current planning status. If this was implemented, much if not all illegal quarrying would end overnight. To date, our representations to various Garda divisions have been ignored.

It is not simply the damage to the environment that these cowboys inflict, although that is quite astounding in some cases, impacting on even our most protected rivers and lands. Quarrying, dumping, washing out of alkaline cement mixers and diesel spills all contribute to a deterioration in drinking water and environmental quality. We are also rapidly exhausting our supply of aggregates which typically come from glacial leftovers such as eskers, which are a finite resource.

The real cost is the undermining of respect for our planning laws and the belief by residents that these operators are protected by our authorities and to complain is not just futile, but dangerous. – Yours, etc,


Friends of the

Irish Environment,


Co Cork.