Kildare County Council,
9 August 2013
Objection to Grant of Planning permission
Planning Number: 13545
Local Authority: Kildare County Council
Applicant Name: Cleary Compost & Shredding Ltd
Development Address: Larch Hill, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare
We wish to object to any development consent for the above application as premature.
We have not been able to find any Environmental Impact Assessment or Appropriate Assessment or considerations thereof. We have particular concerns over the impact of this operation on the River Barrow, a designated Natura 200 site under the Habitats Directive and of the potential impact on the abstraction of drinking water at this location.
We would agree with Councillor Kennedy that there is insufficient information on this file about the environmental impact to allow a development consent at this stage.
We would support the concerns of the Inland Fisheries Ireland submission and draw your attention in particular to the recommendation that a groundwater monitoring programme be put in place should consent be given.
In fact the map seen of the ‘By-Pass' would suggest that it is nothing of the sort. The dictionary definition of a by-pass is 'to go round instead of through a town.' The proposed Bantry ‘By-Pass' will cut through historic areas of the town and isolate houses that are currently part of a tight knit community.
‘The fear is that a ‘quick and cheap' by-pass will be pushed through populated areas because of the economic circumstances which we will regret down the line, when traffic demands may be significantly reduced by the dramatic rise in the cost of private transport'.
‘If the maps currently held in the Bantry office of the local authority are part of a serious proposal, the public should be told now and the maps openly published.'
Re: Unauthorised fencing of uplands
May we at the outset congratulate you as fellow Corkonians on your appointment as Minister for Agriculture? We hope over the time of your tenure to work closely with you to ensure that the growing awareness by Irish farmers of their environmental responsibilities will be nurtured and extended, opening up the Irish farm holding to new processes and ideas, particularly in terms of cooperation with the Department of the Environment and compliance with key deadlines that you and your colleagues will be facing under the Water Framework Directive over the next three years.
We write now, however, out of an urgent and specific concern over new requirements and enforcement of fencing requirements by your officials under the Single Area Payments Scheme and under the Rural Environmental Protection Schemes 3 & 4. These require the permanent fencing of lands habitually open to the public for ‘recreational purposes or as a means of access to seashore, mountain, lakeshore, riverbank or other place of natural beauty or recreational utility'.
However, the recent letters issued to farmers from your Department insisting on the fencing of lands make no reference to this national legal requirement. A verbal check with Donegal County Council indicates that no such planning applications have been received for fencing in the last five years.
We understand the situation has been exacerbated by the need for farmers to spread the additional slurry now collected through the new facilities provided under the Farm Modernisation Scheme without exceeding the limits under the ‘Nitrates Regulations' for nutrient levels on spread lands.
Slatted House, Slurry Storage Tanks, and Mobile/Specialised Slurry Spreading Equipment were all projects which ranked in the Top Ten Farm Investment Structures by Grant Payments under Farm Improvement Scheme 2007 - 2010, according to the recently published Mid-Term Evaluation of the Rural Development Programme Ireland 2007-2013.
We have been informed that remote parcels of lands are being leased for these purposes from, for example, the State Forestry Board, Coillte Teoranata and these unenclosed upland areas submitted to the Department of Agriculture to give the appearance that sufficient hectareage is available to the farmer for slurry spreading.
We understand this practice is now wide-spread and is known colloquially as ‘map acres'. The leasing takes place solely to satisfy the requirements on maps and the land is generally left untouched. It is in part in response to this abuse that your Department has now enforced a requirement for permanent stock proof fencing for all lands under the Single Area Payment Scheme, apparently in the hope that this would make the practice uneconomical. It failed to do so.
The issue is not limited, however, to Area Aid Payments and has now been extended to REPs, where farmers have been advised that temporary fencing - electric fencing, for example - can no longer be used to ensure that cattle do not contaminate watercourses and are contained within even seasonally-used (‘booley') grant-aided lands.
Aside from issues of access, permanent stock-proof fences have other adverse environmental impacts. They may restrict the movement of wild animals with consequent fragmentation of habitat and detrimental impacts on biodiversity.
It is worth noting that the Department is informing callers that the increased stringency of the fencing requirements is required for disease control and that no exceptions will be permitted. Cattle, however, regularly ‘nose' through ‘stock proof' fences with the neighbouring herd, potentially transmitting bacterial and viral diseases. The only effective animal health fencing would require a cordon sanitare of circa 10 metres with fencing on both sides.
We have sought from Coillte Teoranata the extent of their lease/licensing and are writing to you asking you to ensure that any recipients of these funds over the last three years apply for retention permission from the respective local authorities and that from this point on, no payments will be made where the applicant can not show that he has the required planning permission.
The most recent audit report indicates that there are 125,000 farmers in receipt of Area Aid payments to a total of €1.25 billion.
Your previous experience as a Member of the European Parliament will no doubt allow you to appreciate the European legal perspective. EC Regulation 1782/2003 requires that ‘The full payment of direct aid should be linked with compliance with rules relating to agricultural land'. Section 10 further requires each recipient to ‘take the measures necessary to satisfy themselves that transactions financed by the ‘Guarantee' Section of the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) are actually carried out and are executed correctly, and prevent and deal with irregularities.'
Re: PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT (AMENDMENT) BILL 2009
We write to you to urge you to commence the remainder of the Planning and Development Act 2009 before leaving office on March 8, 2011. 28 Sections or parts of sections of the act have not been commenced.
Three critical measures are not yet in place.
• The first is to ensure that any projects that are undertaken which require an environmental impact assessment cannot under any circumstances be exempt from planning control. [Section 5]
• A second is the commitment to end the ‘retention culture' given to European Commission after a Judgment against Ireland by the European Court of Justice in 2008, particularly in relation to unauthorised quarries. [Section 6]
It took more than 3 years for the sections intended to control quarrying in the 2000 Planning Act to be commenced, and this inexcusable delay can not be allowed to be repeated.
The arrangements for addressing this situation though ‘substitute consent' procedures have also not been implemented.
• The third critical measure still not in place is the closing of the loopholes whereby quarries and industrial peat extractions which have continued for more than 7 years are immune from prosecution. [Section 47]
This provision has long been sought by Local Authorities to control not only rogue quarries but the wide spread industrial peat extraction by private operators for the horticultural trade where this loophole is seen as the biggest single barrier to development control.
Other Sections still not commenced are
• New provisions enabling Local Authorities to take over the infrastructure of ghost estates and pursue developers for the cost of completion are not in place. [Section 59]
• The presumption in law that any land zoned in a particular local area plan shall remain so zoned in any subsequent local area plan remains in place, in spite of the Act specifically ending this custom. [Section 12]
• Provisions of the Act which would clarify the status of the Ministers powers of intervention in development plans. [Section 21]
Some of these Sections, such as the one relating to the European Court of Justice ruling in Case C-215/06 of 3 July 2008 relating to the ‘retention culture', have been the subject of detailed Circular Letters and need no further Information Notes. Some are simplicity itself - the ending of immunity if an illegal activity continues for 7 years.
In these circumstances, we would urge you to sign Commencement Orders for these Sections as bone fides of your Government's commitment to the mandate of the people as expressed by your colleagues in the Oireachtas in enacting this legislation and the President in signing it into the law of the land.