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High Court challenge brought over halting site for Travellers displaced by new Dublin Airport runway

An environmental and planning company claims the site does not comply with Fingal County Council’s development plan.

Dublin Airport
Dublin Airport
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews

A HIGH COURT challenge has been brought against a decision to grant planning permission for a Traveller halting site in north Dublin.

The proposed seven-caravan bay development at Coolquay, Co Dublin will provide accommodation for Travellers who will be moved from a halting site at Collinstown Park, where land is required to build a second runway at Dublin Airport.

The challenge has been brought by environmental and planning company Coolquay St Margarets the Ward Development DAC.

The company wants to overturn a decision by Fingal County Council from 9 July last to grant planning permission for the seven bays, as well as associated buildings and services.

They were represented in court yesterday by Jarlath Fitzsimons SC, who appeared with Eoghan Foley BL instructed by Bernard L Gaughran & Co Solicitors, who said the the decision was unlawful and that it should be quashed.

Fitzsimons said the proposed development, located between the M2 and R135 roadways, would also require the demolition of an existing barn on the site.

It was claimed that the primary point of the challenge was that the proposed development convened the policies and objectives of the council’s own development plan for the area.

The lands in question are zoned for rural use, and there is no provision for Traveller accommodation in such areas in Fingal, Fitzsimons said, adding that the site is poorly served in terms of amenities, health and education.

Fitzsimons also told the court that members of the local Travelling Community in Fingal expressed a desire to be accommodated in group housing schemes, rather than at a halting site.

He said it was his client’s case that an appropriate screening report carried out on behalf of the council was deficient, and that the council had failed to conduct a screening for an environmental impact assessment of the site, which was required.

Counsel added that the proposed development was not consistent with proper planning of Coolquay because of reasons relating to flooding and drainage, and was in breach of the Waste Water Act.

The decision to grant permission for the site was also irrational, Fitzsimons said.

In its judicial review proceedings against Fingal County Council, the company is seeking an order to quash the decision.

It is also seeking various declarations, including that the council erred in law by not carrying out its environmental impact assessment on the site, and that the decision materially contravened the 2017-2023 Fingal County Council Development Plan.

The application was made ex-parte before Mr Justice Michael McGrath.

The judge directed that the application for permission to bring the challenge is made in the presence of the representatives for Fingal County Council, and adjourned the matter to a date in October.

The judge, who voiced concerns that the rights of other parties could potentially be affected by the application, said the council should be asked to provide an undertaking not to start the works until the case has been heard.

The company could return to court and apply for a stay on the proposed works if the council was not prepared to give such an undertaking, the judge added.

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Aodhan O Faolain

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