Concerns raised about Co Derry quarry
CONCERNS have been raised after a council confirmed it has awarded a quarry tender to a firm it recently issued an enforcement order against.
Causeway Coast and Glens council awarded a tender for crushed quarry stones to Ardstraw Quarries Ltd last month.
Days earlier it had issued a notice ordering the family-owned firm to halt operations at part of a quarry in an area known locally as Keady Mountain, which is outside Limavady.
It emerged this week that the council subsequently withdrew the enforcement notice because it was not served on the secretary of the company and is now considering issuing a further notice.
Some local people who claim Ardstraw Quarries is operating at Keady Mountain without proper authorisation.
The company, which also runs a second quarry outside Strabane which will be used to supply the council contract, insists it has permission to operate.
In March this year council planning officials issued an enforcement notice which was due to take effect on April 16.
In a letter it said "it appears that there has been a breach of planning control".
The notice to permanently cease blasting, processing of minerals and the removal of minerals relates to a designated area on the site.
Eight days later, on April 24, the council “approved a tender for the supply of quarry materials to Ardstraw Quarries Limited”.
Local residents have raised concerns about the quarry, which they say lay dormant for three decades before being reactivated in recent years.
Local man Billy Stewart last night voiced concerns about blasting linked to the quarry.
“We want an immediate halt and a proper geotechnical survey to be carried out,” he said.
SDLP assembly member John Dallat has also voiced concern.
“When does the council expect to re-issue the enforcement notice?" he said.
“Why has a stop notice not been issued?
He claimed the operation of the quarry has been “has been an absolute nightmare for hundreds of local residents but still operates unabated despite protracted correspondence with the head of the council's planning service”.
The council's planning department said a retrospective application linked to the Keady Mountain site was “deemed to be refused”.
A spokesman for Ardstraw Quarries said Keady Mountain was established in the 1930s and “has been in full operation since 1979 as per current planning permission”.
“We currently have applied to regularize the permission and as to the rest of the site the permission granted in 1979 of which we operate from remains legally valid.
“We work closely with all local governing bodies to be a responsible operator.
“The NI Health and Safety Executive, environmental health and the NIEA (Northern Ireland Environment Agency) inspect Keady Quarry regularly and have voiced no concerns to public health and safety.”
A spokeswoman for the council said it will use material sourced from the Ardstraw quarry site near Strabane “across its facilities”.
She added that permission was granted for ‘rock extraction quarry' in 1979 but “this permission does not cover all of the lands within the area known as Keady Quarry".
“Council uses products supplied by Ardstraw Quarries and is taking steps to ensure all materials supplied are extracted in accordance with all relevant legislative and regulatory requirements,” she said.