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Doherty moves to halt Mountfield Asphalt plant decision

15 March, 2006


Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has called on planners to halt the application from RJ Maxwell and Sons to build an Asphalt Plant in West Tyrone after receiving clarification from EU Commissioner Stavros Dimas that the practice of 'project splitting' to evade Environmental Impact Assessments was illegal and in contravention of EU Directives.

RJ Maxwell and Sons (Northstone) had applied to build an Asphalt Plant at Inisclan Road, Mountfield in West Tyrone on the site of an already established quarrying operation.

Mr Doherty moved to halt the imminent planning decision after Commissioner Dimas stated that the practice of 'project splitting', where planning is granted for an initial project and an Environmental Impact Assessment carried out before planning approval for further development is sought where there is an attempt to avoid further Environmental Impact Assessments for planning purposes, was illegal and in contravention of EU Directive 2003/35/EC3 in response to a question from Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou Mc Donald.

Mr Doherty and local Sinn Féin Councillor Declan McAleer have been fighting on behalf of the Help Our Mountfield Environment Group and the local community against the development of an Asphalt Plant at Inisclan Road.

Commenting on the practice of project splitting, commonly known as 'salami slicing' Mr Doherty said:

"The Directive states that projects that are likely to have significant effects on the environment cannot be split into sub-projects to avoid an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). RJ Maxwell and Sons has contended that it is covered for the development of an Asphalt plant operation at Mountfield because an EIA was carried at the outset of their quarrying operation at the Inisclan site. Up until now the planners have accepted this interpretation and were, I understand, ready to grant approval for the Asphalt plant, but in light of this clarification the planners and RJ Maxwell will now have to go back to the drawing board.

"Clearly, the production of asphalt has very different health and environmental implications over and above the normal quarrying operation, not least the issue of the emission of dangerous carcinogens.

"There is almost universal opposition to the development of an Asphalt plant in Mountfield and the local pressure group HOME has continually voiced the need for EIA was being carried out.

"As well as raising this new information on the consequence of this EU Directive with the planners Special Studies Unit and calling for an immediate freeze on the Asphalt Plant application, I have requested an urgent meeting with NIO Environment Minister Lord Rooker, to discuss the implications of the EU Directive in relation to planning service policy and to this application in particular.

"This EU Directive offers hope to the people of Mountfield that it can have legislative protection against the designs of powerful multi-national companies and its subsidiaries. Like the Rossport 5 case in Mayo this should offer inspiration to other communities throughout the country who face the same David versus Goliath situation. " ENDS

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