As per previous posts, the closing date for submissions on the proposed new waste facility at Kerdiffstown is this Friday. I would encourage all interested parties to make a submission (there is no charge to do so) and they can be sent via a simple email to the council environmental section at firstname.lastname@example.org. I include my own submission below:
22nd January 2014
Dear Sir / Madam,
I would like to make the following comments on the waste permit application for Kerdiffstown.
The area including site environs has an exceptionally poor history of waste management and enforcement actions. Given the previous history and local sensitivities it is of further concern that the current applicant has not attempted to engage with the local community or to assuage local fears. A reactive and somewhat belligerent interview on local radio by the permit author appears to have been the only communication with the local populace.
Whilst the application on face value describes an environmentally harmonious restoration project, I regret that previous practice has not demonstrated confidence in either the industry or the regulatory authorities to police such activity.
Bitter experience with the neighbouring A1 site taught a lesson that regulatory clout was sadly lacking when needed.
The application narrative also raises questions at times. Repeated references to prior discussions with state bodies suggests the application was in planning for some considerable time which begs again the question why no public consultation was attempted. However an almost opposite paragraph makes reference to a “pre planning discussion” taking place by telephone to the counter, an apparently very casual approach to adopt to an application of this nature (from both applicant and council). Which of the two extremes reflects the actual situation?
As to the technicalities of the application itself, there are appear to be many irregularities which have been well documented in a submission by the CAN group and which I include at end here also for completeness.
Some particular points of concern would include condition 2B of planning permission mandating all works to be completed within 3 years, granted in 2005. Even allowing for the extension (which may be ultra vires depending on interpretation of condition) the permit application refers to a five year time-frame of activity. I note a reference to the “fitness” of the applicant within the application – whilst the phrase “fit and proper” has a very specific and onerous definition within the financial service industry, as enforced by the central bank, I understand that Article 5 of the environmental regulations similarly includes a sister definition of “Fit and Proper” as it applies to the waste management industry. Without casting any aspersions on the applicant whatsoever, it is not apparent on the facts of the application that he has satisfied the specific requirements as they apply to the proposed activity. Further the application suggests there are no water courses in the environs, however the canal feeder flows adjacent to the site, the same canal feeder which overflowed at the Waterways site causing catastrophic flooding only four years ago. The river Morell, a tributary of the Liffey, also flows past the site.
Significant local concerns have been raised regarding traffic management, not only on the Monread road which is obviously a major concern, but also I understand the project involved a narrowing of the existing agricultural bridge across the M7. It has been put to me that this narrowing will restrict access to certain farm machinery and thereby curtail agricultural use.
The application appears to be targeted just below the minimum level to require a higher grade “waste licence”. If recycling activity is included (which is at least alluded to on the application) it suggests the volumes processed will be greater than those ultimately deposited at the site, in which case, the question arises whether the lower volume “permit” remains appropriate.
If the project does proceed, all concerned would of course expect the council to exercise thorough regulatory diligence and control. I note additionally the availability of a third party injunction which can be procured by interested parties (e.g. environmental watchdogs or local residents groups) without seeking leave from the regulatory authorities. Such an injunction may be sought under s.160 of the Planning and Development Acts. I would advise any such group to further seek a protective costs order in such circumstances which would insulate such a group from costs and render action feasible.
In summary, pending far greater engagement with the local community and in light of the frankly atrocious regulatory record in the vicinity, I would have very grave concerns about this proposed development proceeding at this time.
Please see here a related submission from the CAN group.