Planning Board rules against own inspector in Ballina sand and gravel development application.

Board not satisfied about impact of operation on European site.

Sligo News File Online.

An Bord Pleanala have overturned the recommendation of their own inspector to refuse substitute consent for a Mayo quarry at Bunnafinglas.

The Cemex (ROI) Limited owned sand and gravel development, located in Drumscoba, nine kilometers south of Ballina, has a stated area of 30 hectares. It includes an associated processing area, plant and buildings.

The overall quarry complex straddles both sides of the local road with the administrative offices, weighbridge, garage, fuel storage and other plant on the road’s eastern side and the main excavation area and water management system west of the road, in close proximity to the River Moy.

Another pit is located to the north, on the western side of the road.

Planning permission was granted for a concrete ready mix plant in January 1974.

The Planning Board on appeal on 3 August 2005 upheld a third party
appeal against a decision of the planning authority to grant permission to Readymix (ROI) Limited to extend the sand and gravel quarry pit at Drumscoba. 

Following a notice issued by Mayo County Council, Cemex (ROI)
Limited lodged an application for substitute consent for the works
undertaken on the site with An Bord Pleanala in May 2013.

The Board received submissions from the National Roads Authority
and Inland Fisheries Ireland, neither body raised objections. An
Taisce referred in a submission to the site as straddling a road in
woodland area in proximity to a Megalithic tomb, that information
on the planning history was inadequate and that further information
should be sought.

Kathleen and Sean Gibney said in a submission that they wished
to make a formal complaint at any further development on the
site on grounds of excessive dust and noise from the site.

In a 33 page report to the planning board following an inspection
of the site in August 2013, Board Inspector, Derek Daly
recommended that the application for substitute be granted subject
to four conditions.

Arising out of his assessment, and based on the information available, he concluded “the quarry has not given rise to significant adverse effects on the environment and that ongoing impacts are limited in terms of scale and significance and can be remediated.” He also considered that the development, “either individually or in
combination with other plans or projects, has not adversely affected
the integrity of a European site.”

However, in its ruling, the Board decided, unanimously, not to grant
the application for substitute consent, stating it was “not satisfied that the development would not adversely affect, or has not had an adverse on the integrity of the European site” as well as other reasons and considerations.

 Rejecting the Inspector’s recommendation the Board stated it      was not satisfied that the development would not adversely affect, or has not had an adverse effect on, the integrity of the European site…

“The Board also did not agree with the Inspector that the impacts on
the riverine amenities, including the permanent loss of riverine habitats and the impacts on the landscape were acceptable.

“Furthermore, the Board did not consider that the proposed restoration plan, which involved further quarrying excavation within the designated SAC area, would adequately address the significant impact on the landscape that has resulted from the subject quarrying operation.

“On the basis of the documentation submitted, and in particular the lack of evidence submitted by the applicant regarding the characteristics of the habitats on the site, located within the Special Area of Conservation (site code 002298) which habits had been removed as a result of the quarrying activity…the Board decided that it was not possible to conclude, beyond scientific doubt, that the subject development would not adversely affect, or has not had an adverse impact on, the integrity of a European site, specifically the River Moy Special Area of conservation, having regard to the conservation objectives of that site.

“Having regard to the above conclusion, to the planning history of the site,  to the recorded lack of compliance with the conditions imposed, under PA file register reference no. QY54 (An Bord Pleanala Reference no. QC2089), on the operation of the subject quarry, pursuant to the registration of this quarry under Section 261 (6) of the said Act, and in particular condition 2 of that registration decision, and to the resultant impacts on the riverine amenities
and the loss of riparian habitat (including approximately 3.1 hectares of the designated River Moy SAC) consequent on the quarrying activity, and to other negative environmental impacts including those relating to visual intrusion in an attractive and sensitive landscape, it is considered that the granting of substitute
consent for the subject development would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The Board directed that “the applicant is hereby required…to cease all quarrying activity in that part of the site between the River Moy and the local road (L1321), including the excavation of any further sand or gravel from this part of the subject site.”