High Court environmental rights constitution
The Four Courts Building Photo: Gary Barber

Supreme Court rules to restrain operation of unauthorised Galway quarry

November 7th, 2018

The Supreme Court today ruled that An Taisce is entitled to an order restraining the continued operation of an unauthorised quarry in Co Galway.

The case, taken by the environmental charity An Taisce, relates to the continued operation without planning permission of a quarry operated by McTigue Quarries Ltd near Tuam, Co Galway.

An Taisce previously sought High Court enforcement action under the Planning and Development Act 2000 as Galway County Council had failed to take enforcement action against the quarry.

In his High Court judgement, Mr Justice Barrett ruled that while the operation of the quarry was unauthorised, no enforcement order was issued with regard to its continued operation.

An Taisce appealed the judgment to the Supreme Court on the basis that the High Court judgement undermined the efficacy of the legal entitlement under the Act for the public and environmental organisations to seek action against unauthorised development.

The lack of enforcement, An Taisce argued, meant that a quarry operating with Environmental Impact Assessment required under National and EU law was intrinsically damaging and undermined the integrity of the planning process.

It its Judgment of the 7th November, the Supreme Court reversed the High Court decision to issue no enforcement order.

The judgement also referred to correspondence, which was cited in the case, suggesting that Galway County Council has been a customer of the quarry “using stone won from it for infrastructural development work.

“If true there is risk of conflict of role in such circumstances,” the judgement stated.

The decision also upholds the right of environmental organisations, including An Taisce and the public in general, to seek and achieve effective action against unauthorised development.

An Taisce’s Advocacy Officer, Ian Lumley, said that the Supreme Court judgement is an “important decision in upholding the integrity of the Irish planning process” where an authority fails to “exercise its responsibilities” in taking action against an unauthorised development.

About the Author

Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London

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