‘Willy nilly’ planning objections causing ‘mayhem’

CALL €2K Deposit should apply to objectors based outside county

Cavan County Council is to recommend that planning objections submitted by those living outside the county should be liable to a €2,000 deposit. The proposal came following a debate at the February meeting of the authority.

Councillor Winston Bennett tabled a motion calling on the council to write to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage requesting objectors to planning applications, who reside outside the district that is the subject of the application, submit a deposit of €2,000. The councillors proposal was that the deposit should not be refunded if the objection is overruled.

Cllr Bennett said it was “annoying” that the same names are cropping up in objections all the time.

The Fine Gael representative pointed to a number of projects that people from outside the county had objected to. He named two applications by local companies for quarries, Harton and Nulty, that were passed by the local authority but appealed to An Bord Pleanála by a Dublin resident.

The Ballinagh representative also referenced developments at Killykeen Forest Park by Cabu and Farragh Proteins for an LNG plant, approved by Cavan County Council, that were also sent forward to the planning appeals board.

He said objections in the name of R. Lee of Ranalagh were made to local projects with no idea of their importance to the local economy.

The councillor said there were a number of objections made by Peter Sweetman to a variety of applications to Cavan County Council.

Mr Sweetman is an environmental activist and the son of former Fine Gael Minister for Finance, Gerard.

Cllr Bennett said a €2,000 deposit would act as a deterrent to people making “willy nilly” objections for the sake of objecting, creating unnecessary work for an already overworked planning staff.

His party colleague Cllr Peter McVitty said that issue was a particular “bugbear” of his. He said he supported the motion 100%, but had no problem with people objecting to planning applications, so long as they were relevant to the area.

Cllr TP O’Reilly (FG) said there were a number of serial objectors who put in objections against applications by local companies employing local people.

Cllr Madeleine Argue (FG) said: “I really hope this motion goes ahead. It might stop a few of these boys who are causing mayhem.”

Cllr Shane P O’Reilly made reference to Mr Sweetman saying he was a 78-year-old wood turner who has “taken it upon himself to destroy any infrastructure project in the country”.

Supporting the motion Cllr Brendan Fay suggested that the €2,000 figure was not enough.

Cllr John Paul Feeley asked the executive if there was anything that could be done to ensure the veracity of the names and address supplied by objectors.

Director of Services Brendan Jennings said he understood the councillors’ frustration. Mr Jennings said some objections can cause a lot of difficulty for the applicants and can drag the process on for months and even years.

The Director of Service said the regulations are quite clear in what the council needs from those who submit objections; the name, address and the nature of the objections.

The council will now forward the recommendation to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage.