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Civil engineer Mick Duffy

Council rejects call for probe into ‘unauthorised development’

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CLARE County Council has been accused in engaging in an unauthorised development in one of its social housing schemes over the alleged failure to abide by one of its own planning conditions.

In recent correspondence with the council, engineer Mick Duffy called on the local authority to carry out an investigation into this alleged unauthorised development.

However, responding to Clare Champion queries, the Council confirmed it would not be following up on the complaint as the issue regarding Condition 3 was addressed in March 2022 under section 179(6)(b) of the Planning and Development Act.

“This section of the legislation exempts certain local authority development from the normal planning obligations where it is necessary to deal urgently with a situation which the Chief Executive considers is an emergency,” a spokesperson said.

“Having regard to the ongoing housing crisis and the levels of housing need in the county, the Chief Executive, Pat Dowling utilised his powers under this section to ensure the occupation of the completed units at Radharc an Oir by qualified social housing applicants,” the council outlined.

A Part Eight application for Clare County Council to proceed with the development of 18 houses at Boheraroan, Newmarket-on-Fergus was agreed at a local authority meeting on March 9, 2020.

In his submission to the council, Mr Duffy stated one of the conditions of the planning permission stipulated that prior to commencement of the development a connection agreement with Irish Water would include that a new outfall from the municipal waste water treatment plant was installed in place of the existing one to an SAC in contravention of the discharge licence.

The North Clare civil engineer pointed out there was no new outfall installed and the 18 residential units are now built and occupied.

Mr Duffy recalled a new outfall from the municipal treatment plan was supposed to be previously provided before the end of 2019, which is discharging in Lough Gash that is a designated Special Area of Conservation.

The civil engineer said the council will have to bring this outfall to another suitable water source such as a river as the discharge would still have some nutrients in it.

In an EPA submission to the council on February 2020, the environmental agency outlined Condition 3.7.1 of the licence for the Newmarket-on-Fergus agglomeration states that, “The existing discharges from the agglomeration directly to ground water has to cease as soon as possible and no later than December 31, 2019.

“Prior to the commencement of an alternative discharge, the licensee has to apply for a review of the certificate of this licence.

It notes that the discharge has still not cease and a request to review the waste water discharge licence has not been lodged with the EPA, as required by the waste water discharge licence for this agglomeration.

The council stated the EPA submission was noted together with the issues surrounding the outfall to Lough Gash. It was also noted that proposals to resolve the issue with the outfall are under consideration by Irish Water and are at feasibility stage.

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