By Ann O'Loughlin
A High Court challenge has been mounted against a decision to allow a company owned by independent TD Danny Healy-Rae (pictured below) to raise the level of a Co Kerry field with construction and demolition waste.
Environment campaigner Peter Sweetman has brought the legal challenge against a decision of Kerry County Council to grant permission to Healy Rae Plant Hire Limited to raise the field at Kilgarvan, Co Kerry in order to improve its agricultural output.
In his action, Mr Sweetman says 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.
The company intends to place 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.
Mr Sweetman says in his statement grounding the application that it is not proposed by the developer to import topsoil for the improvement of the land. Mr Sweetman says the Council should not have granted permission.
He says they 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.
He maintains 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.
In his action, Mr Sweetman seeks an order from the court quashing the decision of Kerry County Council made on June 14 last to grant the company planning permission to import soil, stone and concrete to raise the field.
He seeks several declarations including that the Council acted outside of its statutory remit when it made its decision to grant planning permission without informing the EPA and that the decision is in material contravention of the Council's own development plan.
He also seeks declarations that the Council erred in law by failing to undertake either an AA of the proposed development and that an EIA should have been carried out.
He further seeks declarations that the State has failed to transpose various EU directives on the conservations of natural habitats and on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment.
At the High Court today, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan granted lawyers acting for Mr Sweetman permission, on an ex parte basis, to bring his action against the Council, and the State.
Healy Rae Plant Hire Ltd, which is owned by the Co Kerry TD, is a notice party to the action.
The case will come back before the court in November.