Save East Kildare Uplands: My submission to ABP on the proposed Hudson Quarry extension, Eadestown

Glending Woods

Residents in Eadestown are currently campaigning against a proposal to extend quarrying into further areas at the edge of the existing quarry pit at Athgarrett / Red Bog. This is of significant concern to local residents for a number of reasons including loss of amenity, visual impact and sonic disturbance with blasts from the quarry shaking fittings and fixtures within nearby houses. Also the volume of trucks on local roads continues to be excessive for a quiet rural area.

I lodged an objection on the plans citing the above concerns, also the heritage value of the area with Glending Rath, natural wildlife and fauna including deer, owls, geese and birds of prey. In addition I expressed concerns that the Red Bog which is an area of special conservation, protected under Irish and European legislation, would be adversely impacted.  Well done to the committee who have done sterling work on preparing submissions and raising awareness on this issue.

Copy of my submission text also reproduced here for convenience:

PLANNING APPLICATION. Reg. Ref. 20/532 – Hudson Brothers Limited

Proposed continuation of aggregate extraction and processing as permitted under Reg. Ref. 07/267 that arose following S.261 registration of the extraction operation under reference No. QR42.

(B) The lateral extension of the permitted extraction activities in westerly and northerly directions at Athgarrett, Philipstown and Redbog, Co. Kildare.

I would be obliged for the following submissions be considered in relation to the above application at Eadestown, Co. Kildare and surrounding areas.

  1. I have concerns on the proposed extraction activities in this scenic area of the East Kildare uplands. Kildare is well known to be a flat county and really only contains three areas of significant elevation. The East Kildare Uplands, subject of this application, Ovidstown Hill at Newtown and Carrick in Clogherinkoe to the North West. As the foothills of the Dublin/Wicklow mountain range the East Kildare Uplands are an important heritage, tourist and natural amenity. I believe they should be protected from any further erosion of the type that is planned which has significant visual and physical detriment of a long lasting, permanent and destructive nature. See Appendix A.
  • As above, the area is recognised as a heritage area of natural beauty, terrain and fauna. The recent lockdown highlighted further the importance of protecting such amenities. Glending woods is a very popular walking spot and is immediately adjacent to the planned excavation site. As it is, it is visually jarring to emerge from the woods on that popular walk and come across the yawning quarry at the far edge of that amenity. Remediation efforts on that side would be welcome rather than further encroachment.
  • On top of Glending lies an ancient Rath which lore has it was constructed by Viking king McTurcail to guard the southern approach to Dublin. See Appendix B. The Blessington lakes and greenway are within the viewing vista and part of a prime tourist and amenity package. Buragage Mor was used during the filming of the Vikings TV series. At nearby Tipperkevin is an ancient font which was allegedly the baptism place of St Kevin before he founded Glendalough. There are plans in train to create a Greenway / Slí na Sláinte from Tipperkevin along the lakes and up into Glendalough.
  • On a related note, due to its proximity to Dublin, Naas and Blessington, combined with naturally occurring altitude which is rare in the county the area has become highly popular with cycling clubs and indeed hikers and walking trails. The new programme for government placing additional emphasis on the importance of and the intention to further develop and enhance such facilities and this area will be considered for same.
  • The Red Bog is a designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) site at EU level and as such is protected under legislation, inter alia, the European Union Habitats (RedBog, Kildare Special Area of Conservation 000397) Regulations 2018. SI 76/2018.
  • Under those regulations, certain activities in the vicinity of the SAC site can only be carried our with the express permission of the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. See Appendix C. Included within those specified activities are:

“ARC 03 – Blasting, drilling, dredging or otherwise removing or disturbing fossils, rock, minerals, mud, sand, gravel or other sediment”

The proposed development would appear to come quite unambiguously within scope.

  • To protect visual amenity in the case of this large quarry extension, would require very extensive tree planting and/or landscaping to possibly mitigate the massive visual effect that this quarry extension will have on the local landscape and protected views. It seems difficult to envisage any conditions that would reduce the visual impact. It is believed locally that previous restoration plans and conditions for the existing quarry have not been implemented by the applicant to date. These may constitute unauthorised developments in their own right, as well as raising concerns over future compliance.
  • Having represented the area for several years I am very familiar with the close knit, community spirit and rural character of the area. Large scale, obtrusive industrial development is not appropriate in what is both a heritage and a residential setting. Residents have described whole houses shaking with blasts from the quarry and disturbance of roof tiles, garden fixtures etc. These blasts also contain significant noise pollution and are an immediate detraction from an area of natural beauty and amenity.
  • With the Dáil last year declaring a biodiversity emergency and the new programme for government also emphasising the urgent need for conservation and enhancement measures, the impact of the proposed quarry expansion on the local eco-system is of grave concern. Disturbance to, displacement of and collision with mobile species such as birds (eg. For migration, feeding, nesting)” In this area are found Greylag geese and Whooper swans migrating to the Poulaphouca Resevoir, also breeding games birds (Partridge, Pheasants, etc.) Several species of birds of prey are prominent in this area, as well as a number of bats that roost and feed in the neighbouring dwellings. Deer are frequently present on the woods and hillside too and I have encountered them myself.
  1. The council have previously, and correctly in my opinion, found against both a proposed wind farm and landfill in this area, partly due to the limited, local, rural roads network. Extraction work of the type proposed would generate pollution from noise, dust, exhaust and other emissions whilst traffic on the local roads will increase. Much of the increased traffic being HGVs and plant machinery, passing close to busy junctions and local housing causing disruption, pollution, and danger to the inhabitants and the potential for accidents. This is already a concern which has been voiced within multiple meetings of the Naas Municipal District, without exacerbating volume further.
  1. There is little evidence of remediation or restoration on the existing quarry which has hollowed out significant tranches of the hillside over a period of decades without repair.
  1. I have discussed all the above with Cllr. Carmel Kelly, Mayor of Naas Municipal District and I can confirm that she shares and reiterated all of the concerns expressed.
  1. For all the above reasons and more I have significant concern at the proposed expansion and do not consider it appropriate. Thank you for considering my submission.

James Lawless TD

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