There have been a series of objections and expressions of shock and disapproval to a planning application for a new quarry in the county.
Booth Precast Products Ltd have applied to Laois County Council for permission to open and develop a new sand and gravel quarry in Abbeyleix.
The permission sought is for 20 years on 8.5 hectares at Knocknamoe and Ballymullen on the outskirts of the heritage town.
The planning application was received last month on January 8 and falls due for decision with the Laois planners on March 3.
The reaction to the application on the Council files has been entirely negative with objections from individuals, resident groups, An Taisce – The National Trust for Ireland, the Irish Peatland Conservation Council and the local Abbeyleix Bog Project.
Some of the submissions on the Council planning file number 207 speak of how ‘shocked’ and ‘horrified’ they are by this application for a new quarry development.
The proposed new quarry is right next to the community based and award winning Abbeyleix Bog Project, which is now regarded as an important national habitat and conservation site.
The Abbeyleix Bog Project has won national plaudits and kudos for its environmental endeavours and won heritage awards and recognition as a community driven endeavour. The project was visited by President Michael D Higgins in May 2017.
In their proposal An Taisce challenge what they determine is an incomplete Environmental Impact Assessment (EIAR) of the planned quarry. They also speak of the important ecology on the adjacent Abbeyleix Bog which encompasses almost 500 acres of diverse habitats.
They describe Abbeyleix Bog Project as a “national leadership example of community led ownership and management of a raised bog.”
The Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC) in their submission on the planning file speak of Abbeyleix Bog as “a strategic natural asset” and they express their concern over the impact of Booth Precast’s existing operations on the species and hydrology of the area.
The IPCC make it clear that if the new quarry is granted permission by Laois County Council they will appeal the decision to An Bórd Pleanála.
Local residents, which it is claimed in the submissions number about 200, state that they are concerned about the heavy traffic and intrusion of any new development.
One long-time resident in the area state: “We are horrified at the proposed expansion of the Booth Precast Concrete operations. A simple view of Google Maps satellite images will illustrate starkly the current defilement of the area in their existing works, which appears to have expanded beyond current planning stipulations unheeded.”
The Abbeyleix Bog Project note that they have been active in the area of restoration and rehabilitation of the bog for over 20 years.
“The Abbeyleix Bog Project has a cordial relationship with Booth Concrete and are shocked at this attempt in relation to this proposed development.”