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Unauthorised use of quarry site continuing, says Council


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Unauthorised use of quarry site continuing, says Council Unauthorised use of quarry site continuing, says Council

The unauthorised use of a site in Menlo is continuing despite repeated enforcement action by Galway City Council.

A spokesperson for the Council said it was now weighing up its options in relation to Lackagh Quarries site at Coolough Road which, it said, was being used as a fuel depot without authorisation.

An inspection of the site last year, following a complaint from residents, led to planners at City Hall issuing a warning letter in November.

In March of this year, an Enforcement Notice was issued by the Council in respect of “the unauthorised use of site for Fuel Depot at Lackagh Quarries”.

“To date no response to our Enforcement Notice has been received and, as a result, this site is scheduled for reinspection shortly. The next steps will be determined based on the outcome of the site inspection,” a Council spokesperson said.

The site has a lengthy history of complaints and enforcement, according to a planning enforcement file released under Freedom of Information (FOI).

The file, dated July 2023, said the first complaint about unauthorised use of the site for commercial purposes was February 2020.

A site inspection by the Council found ‘no activity’, with planners recommending ‘no further action’ other than monitoring of the site.

The following year, February 2021, two further complaints were lodged with the Council alleging a coal yard was in operation at the quarry, with a “large volume of trucks coming in and out of the site”.

The Fire Officer at Galway County Council in March 2021 also complained that they had received communication from the Health and Safety Authority about gas cylinders at the site.

The planning enforcement officer recommended a warning letter be issued.

The file was reviewed in May 2021 and found a submission from Keane solicitors on behalf of owners of the site, McHugh Property Holdings Limited, in which it was stated that their client “refutes the alleged unauthorised use of the site for a fuel depot . . . whilst it is used as a storage facility at present for coal, it has in fact been used for decades for processing and storage of concrete and quarry products”.

But a site inspection in August of 2021, “found that the site was still operating as a fuel depot”, according to the Council.

Another complaint in September 2021 related to “excessive noise” and the working hours of the fuel depot – a site inspection by the Council suggested the noise was not from rock breaking but from “the coal sorting and bagging machinery”.

The planner recommended an Enforcement Notice be issued to the owner, occupier and agent instructing them to “cease all unauthorised operations and return the site to its original condition”.

Another inspection in February 2022, found “the coal yard was in operation”, which according to the Council was “still unauthorised”.

During an inspection in March 2023, the Council was told the operators of the coal facility intended to move out by May, but a subsequent May inspection found that while they may have ceased trading, “the site still appears to be used as a fuel store”.

An enforcement was not served in July, according to the file, as “it appeared they were ceasing operations” but a letter was issued instructing them to remove all coal, gas, logs, and debris from the site.

A July 4, 2023 inspection said there “did not appear to be any operations ongoing” but “it appeared there was more bagged coal stacked close to the gate than there was on my previous inspection (in May)”.

A note in the file, following another inspection later in July, accompanied by the owner, found large stacks of bagged coal, logs and sticks. It said there was no bagging and sales of fuel at the site, but it was still being used for storage. It was recommended that another letter issue urging them to “regularise the unauthorised use of site for fuel depot/store at Lackagh Quarry Menlo”.

Last week, the City Council said it was due to reinspect the site again, after its enforcement letter issued in March was not responded to.

Pictured: A City Council inspection found coal stored on the site in July of last year.

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