SERIOUS questions are being raised by Gillogue residents about Clare County Council’s consent for an alleged authorised development stockpiling material at the rear of a factory compound for the long awaited €1.2 million Springfield Flood Relief Scheme.
The Clare Champion has learned the planning section has opened an Unauthorised Development file and one of their enforcement officers will carry out a site investigation.
Following the importation of thousands of tonnes of sub soil, Gillogue residents have asked why the county council didn’t request planning permission approval or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Deputy Cathal Crowe has called for the transportation of this material down to the farmyard where the OPW are based in Springfield earlier than planned when schools are closed during the Christmas holidays.
“It doesn’t make sense to have double movements of material, depositing it at the back of the old Burlington factory and then moving it a second time for the flood protection works.
“There is ample space in Springfield for this material rather than Burlington. There is a huge sense of relief in Springfield that flood protection works are underway.
“For residents in Gillogue, they believe this is another example of planning policy not being followed in their locality. I hope the local road will be upgraded next spring.”
It is believed no further material will be drawn to this site following a suspension of flood protection works due to weather conditions.
Gillogue resident, Aidan McNamara claimed at one stage three or four trucks per hour were using the substandard local road to transport material from Larkin’s Cross from 6am.
He claimed up to 30,000 tonnes of material may have been drawn to the site.
He said a huge mound of soil was transported to the site last summer before it was drawn out again before another huge volume was brought a few months ago.
“My son is woken at 6am in the morning when lorries are operating. If planning permission was granted there could be a condition for operating hours.
“Some soil was deemed unsuitable for the flood defence works so more soil was piled in on top of it.”
He questioned if any environmental impact assessment has been completed as the site is close to a Special Area of Conservation and a flood plain on the banks of the River Shannon.
Resident, Ray Wallace said the local road isn’t designed to take heavy goods vehicles and expressed concern the soil is coming close to the Blackwater River, which could cause flooding elsewhere in the locality.
Seán Lenihan, Senior Engineer, recalled the council was delighted to commence construction of the much awaited Springfield Flood Relief Scheme late last Summer.
“Given the prolonged spell of good weather, much work was done for the first couple of months thereafter however, the council had to suspend works on site in late October due to poor weather and ground conditions.
“Suitable fill material was previously been drawn to the site while operational and we will again be importing suitable fill when works recommence on site in the springtime for the purpose of constructing the necessary flood defence embankment there.
“The type of material required for this purpose is Class 2 material which is clean and inert, and for the period we were drawing it in, was sourced from a green field site in Raheen.
“During that time, all necessary consents and permits were in order as per the contract with the private Haulage Contractor commissioned to do the work on our behalf.
“Any materials currently being hauled to and stored at the Burlington site in Gillogue is a matter for the Haulage Contractor and Property Owners involved, as are whatever permissions, licences and permits that may be required.”
He pledged to refer this activity to the planning section who will investigate and, if required, take whatever enforcement action is deemed necessary.’
Haulier, Donal Ryan, said the OPW need a certain type of clean subsoil that isn’t readily available like stone in a quarry, so it has to be stockpiled to be ready when protection works resume next March.
Mr Ryan said he went to the owners of the former Burlington factory for their permission to deposit material on the site as this was the only suitable location in the locality.
“The last thing we want to do is to disturb residents. We are doing everything we can not to disrupt people.
“It is unfortunate because the Sp;ringfield job was supposed to start earlier, but it was delayed due to design issues. It should have been finished now.
“Gardai monitored the road during the summer and had no issue with the speed.
“Clare County Council has been out to view the site. The road sweeper was sent out to clean the road three times a day when trucks were operating in a one-way system.
“The quantities the OPW require for the flood protection bank isn’t easy to get. That’s why I had to go with this option. When the OPW needs this material next March where would we get it?
“This is the first bank we are doing from scratch. Normally, we are repairing a flood protection bank. We are trying to stop people from getting flooded.”
He pledged no more material would be drawn on a green area to the site and explained soil couldn’t be left on concrete to avoid contamination.
He said an Article 27 form concerning this deposition was sent to the EPA in addition to soil tests. If the soil was being left there permanently, he acknowledged a permit would be required.
He said the subsoil on the site has been sealed to limit run off from rain.
Zinc Properties spokesman, Brian Whelan explained soil has to be stockpiled on the site on a temporary basis because it can only be delivered to the Springfield site at certain times.
Mr Whelan outlined the company is acting as a facilitator for Clare County Council, the contractor and the OPW to get this work done without any payment from any party.
“The contractor has told us everything is in order from a licensing and point of view. We are happy to facilitate the flood protection work.”
by Dan Danaher