10 February 2005 Edition
Call to investigate Sugarloaf dumping
There should be an immediate investigation in to dumping on the Little Sugarloaf in Wicklow, says Bray Town Councillor John Brady.
"I inspected the dump on 3 February and found at least ten violations of the licence conditions," said the Sinn Féin councillor. "It beggars belief that after all the dumping controversies this county has had, that we are still actively encouraging these situations. It is unbelievable. What will it take before people cop on and start doing things properly?"
"The permit to dump 60,000 tonnes of waste was reviewed and issued by just one person at Wicklow County Council," Brady explained. The waste is supposed to be soil and stones from the commercial site being built at the N11 end of the Southern Cross Road in Bray. The licence contained a number of conditions.
"My first problem is with the way the permit was granted," said Brady. "Why did that not go to the elected representatives for public consultation and review?"
Since he is not a member of the council that granted dump permission, Brady had no advance notice of the work. However, in recent days, truck convoys on the mountain could be seen from as far as the Vevay Road in Bray. It is not the first time the builders in the area have run afoul of planning laws. Last summer, a number of violations were discovered when the slip road between the Southern Cross and Killarney roads was being laid.
"The conditions laid down have clearly been breached," said Brady of the Sugarloaf dumping. "New roads have been laid down half way up the Little Sugarloaf. Trees have been knocked down. An Environmental Impact Statement really should have been done for a project this huge. How can just one person issue a licence for work of this magnitude?" Brady demanded. "Even if those lorries carried five tonnes each, that is 12,000 trips belching out diesel fumes, causing wear and tear on the roads and ripping up an extremely sensitive environmental area. As it is, the licence allows them to operate ten hours a day. The permit holders, SM Morris, have 15 lorries on the go at all times. They have even built a one-way system on the mountain to maintain the flow," said the Sinn Féin councillor.
"But I have more serious concerns following my visit to the dumping area half way up the Little Sugarloaf," he said. "What environment wasn't destroyed to make roads to get to site is now being ruined by the loads of material ending up on the side of the mountain. Sixty thousand tonnes is an awful lot. Fairly soon we will have a third Sugarloaf."
Brady said most of the violations relate to site controls. For example, the access gate is supposed to be locked out of hours and when the site is unattended. "That's presuming there is a gate," Brady noted. Another condition calls for written records to be kept of each load dumped.
"There is no one up there to keep a record. Trucks are just coming and dumping stuff," he said.
Wells should be in place and marked to monitor ground water conditions, said Brady. "There are none."
There is supposed to be a noticeboard at least 1,500 mm by 750 mm with permitee name, address, phone number and pertinent licence information. "You guessed it, there is no sign," said Brady.
"There is supposed to be a fence to delimit the dump area. Maybe it's back ordered, but there is no fence of any kind.
"There are also a number of worrisome lapses regarding monitoring," said Brady. "There is supposed to be an initial dump area for inspection. If any of the material is contaminated, it has to be quarantined and disposed of safely. Needless to say, that condition has also been disregarded.
"The dump area is limited to one hectare at any one time. It is plainly much larger than that."
"The depth of the material is supposed to be no more than 300mm. It is up to 2 meters in some places," said Brady.
Other problems were noted by the Sinn Féin councillor. "There is a roadway under a guy wire for one of the electricity pylons. The 'safety feature' there consists of a fluorescent jacket tied to the guy wire. Further along, a fence surrounding an underground reservoir was ripped up. That could be a safety problem for kids playing in the area.
"It boggles the mind. I went up there to inspect the work. I came back down in shock. Later, I picked up a daily newspaper and read yet another article about illegal dumping in County Wicklow — this time on Magheramore Beach near Brittas Bay. And even those dumpers we impose conditions on are allowed to operate at will. We have got to get our act together. The Sugarloaf site should be investigated immediately. And the licence process has to be overhauled immediately."