Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Sixth Report

Annex Q

Letter to the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

from Mr D H Carroll, Divisional Planning Office


I refer to your letter of 9th March 2001 concerning the above.

  • The site is a low-lying area of farmland off Ballyrickard Road and close to the Inver River which is subject to flooding. The scheme is to fill the area with inert material, grade with topsoil and grass over.

  • A fully application for planning permission for an agricultural improvement scheme on 11.25 acres of land was received and validated by the Department on 1st December 1989.

  • The neighbouring properties were notified on 7th December 1989 and the application was advertised in the local press on 14th December 1989. This resulted in one letter of objection from a resident being received by the Department 22nd December 1989 objecting on the basis of access, traffic, and environmental grounds.

  • Roads Service returned their consultation reply on 8th January 1990 with no objections to temporary permission being granted for 1 year which should be defined in the planning approval.

  • Water Service had no objections to the proposal.

  • Environmental Health stated that a Waste Disposal Licence may be required depending on the type of material to be deposited.

  • The Department of Agriculture indicated that infilling should be kept back from the 3 watercourses on the boundaries of the site. Details of any discharge to a watercourse require the approval of the Department of Agriculture and details of any such proposals should be submitted for appraisal.

  • A copy file was forwarded to Environment Unit on 7th December 1989 for their consideration and recommendation. A recommendation of approval was received on 16th March 1990 subject to a number of conditions and informatives.

  • A letter was sent to Larne Borough Council on 2nd March 1990. This was to inform the Council that one letter of objection received regarding this application had not appeared on the schedule of applications to be brought before the Development and Consultative Committee at the meeting of 5th March 1990.

  • A letter was also sent to the objector on 2nd March 1990 informing him of the Department's contact with the Council informing them of his objection letter and to reassure him that his letter of objection was fully considered in assessing the application.

  • The application was brought to Larne Borough Council on 5th March 1990 with the Department's opinion to approve.

  • As result a decision notice was issued on 28th March 1990.

  • The Minister, Mr Needham, received a letter from a complainant dated 6th April 1990 concerning the following points:

    i.  the proposed use of the land;

    ii.  consultations between the Department of Agriculture and Planning Service regarding land to be brought into agricultural production;

    iii.  consultations with Conservation Branch and Fisheries Division;

    iv.  action Department would take if the site is left as a rubbish dump; omission of his letter of objection from the planning schedule going to Council meeting.

  • This was forwarded to the Department for a reply.
  • The Department replied to the Minister regarding the complainant's letter on 21st May 1990 addressing his concerns that the application was for inert material, not rubbish, grade with topsoil and grassed over. The Department advised that "surplus" land was not a material planning consideration and should be directed to the Department of Agriculture. The Department added that there was no consultation with Conservation Branch or Fisheries Division regarding the application and that Condition 04 refers to the prevention of slippage of debris into the river and consent is required under Informatives 02 and 04 to discharge to any watercourse. With regard to the issue of the site being left as a rubbish dump, the Department advised that enforcement action would be taken if Condition 05 is breached. The Department stated that the Council was advised of the objector's letter when it was brought to their attention that this had been omitted from the schedule.
  • The Department advised the complainant of these issues in a letter dated 12th June 1990.
  • The Minister, Mr Needham, received a letter of complaint dated 13th June 1990 in reply to the Department's letter dated 12th June 1990. The complainant stated that the Department had failed to address the central points of his previous letter of 6th April 1990 regarding incompatibility between the Planning Service's policies and that of the Department of Agriculture, and the granting of planning permission on land which has never been in productive agricultural usage. He also queried why "surplus" land was not a material planning consideration.
  • The Department received correspondence from the House of Commons on 12th September 1990 asking us to reply to the complainant's letter of 13th June 1990 through them.
  • The Department received a letter dated 8th September 1990 from the complainant advising them that the planning approval had been violated. It was alleged that Mr Beggs was dumping wood waste, plastic fertiliser bags, tree stumps, barbed wire and corrugated iron and that the site had been made into a public dump with various people depositing waste at a rate per load.
  • The site was inspected by a Planning Officer on 24th September 1990 and the access roadway was clean, gateway access closed and secured and infilling proceeding in accordance with the planning approval. However, one old tree stump was partially visible under the infilled face and a sheet of old corrugated iron was also noted.
  • A follow-up site visit took place on 28th September 1990 and the site was reported to be very well maintained and enforcement action was not supported.
  • The Department responded to the House of Commons correspondence on 28th September 1990 advising that further to site visits undertaken the infilling was proceeding in accordance with the planning approval. There was evidence of one tree stump and one sheet of corrugated iron protruding from the slope. However, on the basis of the appearance of the site enforcement action was not advocated. There was no evidence to suggest the site was being used as a public dump and any suggestion of collusion between the Department and the MP was strongly refuted.
  • A letter was sent to the Assistant Director of Town and Country Planning Service from the Divisional Planning Officer on 1st October 1990 concerning the dispute of the complainant and Mr Beggs (the applicant) and the complainant's suggestion of collusion between Mr Beggs and the Planning Office. The Department raised the point that the applicant was an MP and a member of the Larne Borough Council, and consequently there was considerable contact at all officer levels with him during the normal carrying out of his and the officer's duties.
  • A further letter of complaint was submitted to the Department dated 4th October 1990 enclosing photographs of alleged unauthorised dumping.
  • The Department responded on 12th October 1990 to the complainant's letter of 8th September 1990 stating that the Divisional Planning Office would respond to his letter.
  • The Minister responded to the House of Commons letter of 28th September 1990 on 23rd October 1990 outlining the background to the application, consultees and that the objectors views were taken into account during the assessment of the planning application. It also addressed the point that the future of agriculture and the countryside was not valid in respect of an individual planning application.
  • The Department responded to the complainant's letter of 8th September 1990 and 8th November 1990. The Department advised the complainant that the site was thoroughly inspected and the work was proceeding in accordance with the approved plans. Addressing the issue of materials dumped, it was stated that there was evidence of tree stumps and a small load of corrugated material. However, the Department assessed these infringements and was of the opinion that enforcement action was neither expedient nor warranted at this time, but the site would be monitored. The allegation of collusion was strongly refuted.
  • The complainant telephoned the Department on 12th November 1990 regarding the letter sent to him dated 8th November 1990 to indicate that he was not satisfied with the Department's response and action to date. The complainant alleged there was still collusion between the Department and Mr Beggs which was yet again refuted by the Department. He claimed that all of his correspondence to the Minister and the Department had not received replies. Furthermore, he claimed that dumping of household refuse was taking place on lands owned by Loughside Quarries and that some of this material was entering a local watercourse. He was not aware of any planning permission having been granted for the alleged dumping. This was to be investigated by the Department.
  • The complainant telephoned the Department once again on 15th November 1990 advising that Mr Beggs had leased the site to Mr McKee to carry out dumping to form the improvement scheme. He alleged that Mr McKee had sub-leased the right to dump on the land to others and that a DoE Roads Service lorry was on the land disposing of a load of asphalt. The Department advised the complainant that the Departmental responsibilities relating only to ensuring that the conditions of the planning permission were being met, but that the matter would be investigated.
  • The DoE Roads Service were contacted on 15th November 1990 to bring this matter to their attention.
  • The Department contacted the complainant on 20th November 1990 regarding the telephone conversation of 12th November 1990 to outline that all correspondence from him and been responded to.
  • Environment Unit visited the site once again on 2nd August 1993 but could find no breach of conditions of approval.
  • A letter dated 4th August 1993 from Larne Borough Council Environmental Health Department was received by the Department 6th August 1993. This was to alert the Department of their investigation into a complaint alleging the site was being used as a landfill site for controlled waste and to seek information relating to the licensing conditions for the management of the site.
  • The Department contacted the Environmental Health Department by telephone on 29th October 1993.

Dyers, Bleachers and Finishers Site, Inver Road, Larne:

This site has been the subject of two planning applications, one of which is presently a current application. Details are as follows:

1.  Application F/96/0067 for site of housing development by Mr T Topping was received on 15th March 1996. Outline planning permission was subsequently granted on 27th June 1996.

2.  Application F/2001/0038/O for site of residential development by Mr T Topping was received on 5th February 2001. This is a current application and no planning decision has been reached as yet.

14 March 2001

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 29 March 2001