Wednesday, 24 February 2010

CLEAN successful at court against unauthorised bog road

CLEAN (Cavan Leitrim Environmental Awareness Network), of which I am a member, has released the following press release. I am delighted with the outcome of this high court case - and many thanks to those members who worked hardest on it.
Why was this necessary?
"On Thursday the 18th February the President of the High Court Mr.Justice Nicholas Kearns made comprehensive orders in favour of CLEAN Ltd. (the Cavan Leitrim Environmental Awareness Network) in respect of the High Court proceedings brought by that company against Leitrim Co.Co. regarding the unauthorised road building project commenced by the County Council over Boleybrack Mountain.It was contended by Clean that the works were illegal and in breach of the EC(Natural Habitats)Regulation 1997 and in breach of the Roads Act 1993. The Council were requested to cease works at the time but in response to correspondence received from Solicitors for Clean insisted that the works were authorised and lawful. Proceedings were instituted in the High Court challenging the Councils refusal to stop the project and same were vigorously opposed by the County Council. The case prompted much adverse comment from elected members of the County Council who insisted upon the entitlement of Leitrim County Council to carry on with this project.

The case was scheduled for a full hearing on Tuesday 23rd. February in the High Court. In advance of the case being called on Terms of Settlement were agreed between the legal teams for the parties and the said terms were handed into Mr.Justice Kearns and made an Order of the Court.

The Terms of Settlement provide that the Council consent to a declaration that the roadbuilding works the subject matter of these proceedings were unauthorised and carried out in contravention to the Habitats Regulations and the Roads Act in circumstances where they were not subject to a prior environmental impact assessment as required by this legislation. The Council are prohibited from further work on the site ,which is a protected site under EU law.

Furthermore the County Council have agreed to carry out a programme of remedial works to the site in consultation with National Parks and Wildlife Service ,the said programme for remediation to be agreed by the Council with Clean and their experts within the next 8 weeks. If agreement cannot be reached between the parties on the remediation , the matter will be listed for Court again on this aspect.

The High Court order provides that the County Council shall pay the legal costs of the case to Clean. Clean was represented in the proceedings by Nuala Butler S.C. and Yvonne McNamara B.L. instructed by Mr. Gabriel Toolan of Walter P.Toolan & Sons Solicitors Ballinamore, Declan McGrath B.L. instructed by the County Solicitor Mr.Gerard Gannon represented the Council.

Clean are very pleased with the outcome of these proceedings which has vindicated their position.However they consider it regrettable that they had to go to such enormous lengths (and risk of huge legal expense)
to protect this very delicate and pristine site from unlawful damage particularly as they had notified in advance both the Council and National Parks and Wildlife both of whom have extensive responsibilities in these matters."

Tony Lowes, spokesperson for Friends of the Irish Environment, commented:
"Friends of the Irish Environment have welcomed the Order of the High Court against Leitrim County Council’s road building in a European nature conservation site. ‘The success of a voluntary local environmental group in protecting this area from development highlights the failures of the National Parks and Wildlife to perform its statutory function, in spite of recent increases in its funding.’"

Wouldn't it be great if we had a first in this country - well, second, after Trevor Sargent's resignation yesterday - where politicians and institutions responsible would clearly state: we were wrong, we made mistakes, in so far...
Every craftswo/man knows that mistakes have to be recognised, admitted and analysed to get better. And to be able to advise others not to make the same mistakes. There is no "development", nor can a "smart " society develop, without this.

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