Sunday, July 01, 2007

 

Quarrying in East Meath

I attended another public meeting about the local impact of a new quarry, this time in Bellewstown. Over the last few months a quarry has "intensified use" to the point where locals are very concerned about the impact on safety around the top of Bellewstown Hill (and outside the school).

The whole issue of quarry permissions was meant to be addressed a few years back by the government. However, it would appear that a few loophopes may exist that need tightening. Also, there are real problems with enforcing conditions. For example, if the operation of a quarry has been curtailed to certain hours (e.g. not before 7am and not after 6pm) then how is this actually enforced? From my experience around East Meath it would appear that it's entirely a matter of self-enforcement. So, if a quarry owner decides to open earlier then what happens? I've passed on numerous allegations of early-opening by other quarries around Meath to the enforcement section of the County Council, who claim they are unable to do much because they don't have the resources to validate any complaints about breaches of conditions.

Quarries are essential for the construction industry and it's also more effective to source the building material closest to where it's needed, so I accept that there are strong arguements for the need to have quarries within the north Leinster area. As well as that, most quarries probably do comply with the conditions imposed on them. However, it's the rogue operators who are causing problems for all of us.

My view is that the law needs to be be revised. I'd also say that there's a strong case to be made for additional funding to be given to local authorities from the government to enable effective monitoring of quarries and enforcement of operating conditions.

Meanwhile, the residents of Bellewstown are now going through the same heartache and frustration that has happened elsewhere in County Meath over the last few years.

Comments:
You should put a question to the manager regarding the level of enforcement in the county to push it up the agenda and you should also push for the council to use the new provisions of the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure)2006 which have reversed the burden of proof of noncompliance onto the developer (I think its section 35 or it amends section 35, anyway its in there somewhere). Which effectively allows MCC to refuse permission for past failures to comply without liability on the council to prove anything or seek a court order. No council has used it yet to my knowledge. If MCC used it their reputation would benefit massively and you could be sure it would get a very favourable write up in the Times and you would get much of the credit. You should also ask when do the Planning dept intend to publish a list of names of those prosecuted for planning violations. A section was added to the development plan late on saying that a list would be published periodically publishing offenders names. This again would be best practice as I believe only dublin city council have done this to date. (in the irish times) but leaving that aside for a second you really should insist the council endeavour to use the new refusal powers, it would be great for everyone involved. No point in the law being changed if no one uses the new provisions. I foresee a dublin authority using it and the opportunity to be first to use will be lost. DOING THIS WOULD BE BOUND TO GET YOU IN THE TIMES AND LOOK GOOD FOR THE COUNCIL
 
I am not sure what Meath Council's policy is on dangerous dogs or your views regarding this matter. However I must say that I feel Dublin City Council have gone too far. Yes these dogs should not really be allowed in council flat complexes. But the suggestion in the times today that they should be banned nationwide is both cruel and excessive. The open countryside is a very different kettle of fish. People should be able to keep what they like but be liable for HUGE fines if they dont meet their responsibility to ensure the safety of the public. These dogs and their breed have a right to life on humanitarian and biodiversity grounds. Can you imagine a flat tenant being told on monday his 7 year old alsation has to be rehomed (realistically an impossibility) or put down due these new rules. Thats like taking someone child into care, people are attached to their dogs, this is draconian.Strict regulation and huge fines arethe answer not what is going to be in effect a cull in the Dublin City area. Alsations ans Rotweillers are not fighting dogs like the pit bull, alsations are loyal guard dogs they should under no circumsatnces be banned. Whether your future is in the council or the seanad you should fight for these dogs and their owners rights.
 
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