Co Louth illegal dumper engaged in a 'cunning lie' against council

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Co Louth Illegal Dumper Engaged In A 'Cunning Lie' Against Council
Mr Justice Barr was satisfied from the evidence the waste poses a threat to the environment and human health.
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The co-owner of Co Louth farmland where illegal dumping has taken place engaged in a "cunning lie" when he asserted it was the local council that was responsible for the dumping, a High Court judge said.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr made the comments when he ordered John Prendergast to arrange for the removal of the waste and to take the necessary steps to remediate the lands at Millpark, Knockbridge, Dundalk.

Louth Co Council obtained the orders against John Prendergast who is joint owner of the 86.5 acre holding at Millpark, along with a tillage farm, with Rita, Enda and Eugene Prendergast. John manages the farm operations and the various other uses of the lands.

Drinking water

The River Fane, which is about 270 metres south of the site, is a source of some of the drinking water for the greater Dundalk area.

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The judge said John Prendergast's opposition to the orders was essentially that such waste as there was on the lands had been placed there by the council over a long number of years. It was also claimed he did not have the financial means to remove the waste and remediate the site.

While the amount of waste, including household and construction waste, had not been fully quantified, it was observed the depth of waste in one location potentially exceeded six metres.

Mr Prendergast did not have a licence and notices were served by the council requiring him to cease accepting waste and put forward proposals for its removal and remediation.

He did not comply and in June 2017 the council itself organised the removal of more than 1,000 tonnes of waste. At one point, the council had to get a search warrant with gardai to carry out an inspection because Mr Prendergast refused permission to enter.

Councillor

In an unsworn affidavit, Mr Prendergast alleged, among other things, that around 1994 he was approached by an unnamed local councillor and asked if he would permit material which was going to be dredged from an area known as Stephenstown Pond placed on his lands.

He said that being a young man at the time, and being anxious to assist the local authority, he agreed.

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He alleged that in 2002 to 2003 the council approached him again seeking permission to tip thousands of tonnes of engineering grade material on his lands.

It was not until 2005, he said, when the council itself was under investigation by the Department of the Environment in relation to unspecified activities, that it used a “heavy hands on” approach towards him.

They were, he said, the council was trying to pass the blame to him.

Planning matters

He claimed he was being used as a “pawn” to cover up what seemed to him to be corruption in planning matters and how the “seedy” workings of local government representatives and local government planning authorities, who worked hand in glove together, were trying to extricate themselves from a situation of their own making.

The council strongly denied the allegations and said it had never illegally dumped on the land.

Mr Justice Barr was satisfied from the evidence the waste poses a threat to the environment and human health.

He did not accept the purported defence in Mr Prendergast's unsworn affidavit.

"The court is satisfied that it represents nothing more than a cunning lie.

"Like all such lies, it has a scintilla of truth within it, so as to give the lie a veneer of credibility."

Road verge material

The scintilla of truth related to the fact that in or about 2002 to 2003, the council asked Mr Prendergast for permission to deposit topsoil and subsoil while road widening works were carried out nearby.

The court accepted this road verge material was separate and distinct from the stockpiles of materials which were identified during the inspection of the lands in October, 2018.

He did not accept the allegation of illegal dumping by the council from 1994 to date and ther was no evidence to back up this assertion.

“The court is satisfied that it is a lie”, he said.

He did not accept Mr Prendergast did not have the means to pay for remediation. If necessary, he and his co-owners can sell some of the lands to pay for the pollution and damage caused.

He made the orders sought.

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