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29/09/2021

Live enforcement case open into Donegal firm Cassidy Brothers

Environmental concerns raised about Buncrana quarry

Live enforcement case open into Donegal firm Cassidy Brothers

Donegal County Council currently has a live enforcement case open in relation to Cassidy’s Quarry in Buncrana

Donegal County Council currently has a live enforcement case open in relation to Cassidy’s Quarry in Buncrana.

Replying to a question on the company’s planning compliance, from Cllr Terry Crossan at yesterday’s Inishowen Municipal District meeting, Killian Smith, Donegal County Council’s Executive Planner said Martin McDermott [Donegal County Council’s designated planner for quarries] was dealing with the enforcement.

Mr Smith said: “I can’t undertake to come back with a report on that at the moment but I know that officers from a number of sections, including Waste and the Lab, in relation to water, are active on the issue raised [by Cllr Crossan].

“We will address it if there is an issue there, in relation to protection of the ground and pollution prevention.

“Officers from the Waste Enforcement Section from the Lab, under Dr Joe Ferry, the Senior Executive Scientist and also Planning Enforcement are engaging with the developers and there is ongoing engagement.”

The Department of the Environment has no oversight role in ensuring Cassidy Brothers complies with the planning conditions attached to its 2019 application for a continuation of quarrying activity in Buncrana.

In a statement to Inish Times, the Department said it had “no remit in the regulation of quarries”

It added: “Specific quarries, regarding planning conditions, are a matter for the relevant local authority who granted the planning permission.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also confirmed it did not license the company, saying: “As Cassidy’s is not licensed by the EPA, I’m afraid I can’t offer you any information on this occasion.”

The Department of the Environment and EPA were responding to a series of questions put to them by Inish Times, regarding Cassidy Brothers’ compliance with four of the several 2019 planning conditions.

At the time of going to print, neither Donegal County Council nor the Irish Concrete Federation had responded to our questions either.

On December 4, 2019, Donegal County Council specified a number of planning conditions when it granted Cassidy Brothers planning permission for the: “continuation of quarrying activity over an area of approximately 17.8 hectares; extraction of rock by blasting and rock breaking means from an area of 11.3 hectares (within 17.8 hectare area); processing of rock using fixed and mobile plant and washing of material; continuation of use of the existing workshop, office, canteen, toilet facilities, weighbridge, wheelwash, settlement lagoons and all other ancillary facilities, construction of refuelling area and attenuation and settlement lagoons; landscaping and restoration of the site and all associated ancillary facilities / works. This application is accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment Report and a Natura Impact Statement.”

Condition 15 stated: "All oils or chemicals stored within the site shall be stored within bunded areas and such substances shall not be discharged or allowed to discharge into surface or ground waters on site. Oil interception traps shall be provided on drainage lines serving areas where oil products are stored or used.”

Donegal County Council has not confirmed whether or not it has he inspected the quarry to ensure it has the specified bunding or interception traps. It has not confirmed whether or not it is satisfied the bunding or interception tanks are in place as specified.

Condition 14 stated: “All vehicles carrying rock, stone or gravel from the quarry shall pass through existing on site wheel wash and water sprinkling system.”

Donegal County Council has not confirmed whether or not it has inspected the quarry to ensure the current system is adequate, as per the specified condition.

It has not confirmed whether or not the wash currently contains silt or is overflowing across the yard, into the pond near the entrance.

It has not confirmed whether or not the quarry owner has been contacted about remediation measures if this situation is ongoing.

Condition 6 stated: “Within a period of 12 months of the date of grant of planning permission all water [rainfall, groundwater and other discharges] flowing across the quarry area and all waters contaminated by the quarrying associated on site operations shall be discharged to the New Water Management System / new closed circuit system serving washing plant [new attenuation and settlement lagoons] and shall otherwise be in strict accordance with the new Water Management System.”

Donegal County Council has not confirmed whether or not it has inspected the quarry to ensure this specified planning condition has been met. It has not confirmed whether or not the water ponds at the quarry are new.

It has not confirmed whether or not large deposits of sludge have been dumped in and around a pond on the edge of the Mill River, surrounding two telegraph poles, in Cassidy's yard in Buncrana. These poles carry 40KV power lines from Letterkenny. It has not outlined how the ESB could enter this area to effect repairs in the event of an emergency.

Condition 4 has four subsections: A, B, C, D.

Again, Donegal County Council has not confirmed whether or not it has inspected the quarry to ensure all of the specified conditions are being met. It has not confirmed whether or not it has ensured all of the overhead and underground poles and lines set back in line with the new fence line.

It has not confirmed whether or not it has ensured the new fence line exists.

It has not confirmed whether or not it is aware there a pole in the middle of the road, with bollards around it, just outside the entrance and whether or not this is planning compliant.

Speaking at yesterday’s meeting of Inishowen Municipal District councillors, Cllr Terry Crossan said he has been approached by a number of constituents regarding quarries.

Cllr Crossan asked Killian Smith, Donegal County Council’s Executive Planner, when was the last time the Cassidy Brothers’ quarry had been inspected to ensure it is compliant on the conditions put on its planning approval?

Cllr Crossan added: “I have been asked about oils and other chemicals seeping into the environment and how this is guarded against.”

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