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Newport quarry refused permission for further development


Anton McNulty

AN application to further develop a controversial quarry near Newport which has been idle since 2006 was refused by the board of An Bord Pleanála.
Michael Geraghty of Rehins, Castlebar, made the application to An Bord Pleanála in respect to a rock quarry in the townland of Cartron which is approximately 5km east of Newport and close to the Newport to Castlebar Road.
The sandstone rock quarry which produced crushed stone and aggregate ceased operating in June 2006 on foot of a High Court decision that the quarry was unauthorised and is currently ‘mothballed’.
Mr Geraghty proposed to extend the quarry and continue extraction to a depth of 15m below the natural surface level. Approximately 240,000 tonnes of rock have been extracted from the site to date. Mr Geraghty also lodged a separate application for substitute consent with An Bord Pleanála (ABP).
The application by Mr Geraghty was opposed by Mayo County Council who claimed the existing quarry is unauthorised development and as a result the applicantion was invalid. There were also submissions from a number of residents of the area whose concerns included the potential emissions of noise and dust as well as vibrations caused by blasting.
Some local residents also voiced their concern over the access road to the quarry and over what they perceived as a lack of regard for the local community in past operation of the quarry.
In his response, the applicant argued that the application was valid and the proposed level of activity would depend on demand. The applicant stated that the road was capable of carrying a 20 tonne HGV and if it was upgraded it would be a positive outcome for residents.
Future development in the quarry, the applicant argued, will not have any significant future impact on the landscape or the nearby houses and will comply to all recommendations regarding noise and vibration.

No undue threat
In his report, Mr Stephen J O’Sullivan inspector with ABP stated that the proposed quarry would involve blasting twice a year and the removal of approximately 400 tonnes of material a day. This he said would not represent an undue threat to residential amenity but stated the minor road is not fit to carry the traffic that would be generated by the proposed development.
Mr O’Sullivan recommended refusal as the road serving the site is ‘deficient in width, alignment, structure and surface condition and is not capable of carrying the traffic’. He also stated that the proposed development would seriously injure the landscape and the scenic amenities of the area.
In a separate application for the substitute consent, the inspector Ms Deirdre MacGabhann stated that to permit substitute consent for the quarry would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area. She stated the quarry’s proximity to nearby residential development and the inadequate arrangements in place for the management of environment effects such as noise, dust, and water pollution as reasons for her recommendation for refusal.
The board of ABP refused permission in both applications.

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