THE High Court in Belfast has granted leave for a Judicial Review to examine a range of alleged flaws in the Pre-Application Consultation process carried out by Canadian gold mining company, Dalradian, operating in Tyrone.
The outcome of the Judicial Review has the potential to halt the plans to develop the gold mine, should it find that Dalradian has fallen short in its consultation obligations, and that the Department for Infrastructure has not fulfilled its statutory duty to ensure that the proposal of application notice, and pre-application community consultation, was robust and meaningful.
Leave for the Judicial Review against the Department for Infrastructure was granted on the basis that:
The Department for Infrastructure failed to have regard to material considerations including substantive flaws in the pre-application community consultation process when deciding not to decline to determine the Planning Application pursuant to Section 50 of the Planning Act.
The review is expected to take place in mid to late June of this year.
The successful granting of leave for the Judicial Review has been brought forward by Greencastle, Rouskey, Gortin Concerned Community known as ‘GRG’ representing the residents who stand to be directly affected by Dalradian’s proposal to construct a processing plant and waste storage facility on the area known as Crockanboy Hill.
The group, led by a professional advisory team, states that the pre-application consultation process carried out by Dalradian was vague and ambiguous and that the complexity of the scheme confused impacted residents.
Solicitor representing GRG, Andrew Ryan, Partner at International Law Firm TLT said today:
“The planning application is one of the largest and most complex to be submitted in Northern Ireland and it is therefore critical that the pre-application community consultation requirements have been met.
“This is the first Judicial Review of its kind in Northern Ireland and it is essential that there is a thorough examination of the procedures and the work of the Department for Infrastructure in allowing Dalradian’s planning application to be accepted and processed in view of the procedural and legal issues identified by GRG and its advisers.”
Planning Adviser representing GRG, Rachel Taylor, Associate at Planning Consultancy, Clyde Shanks added:
“There are, in our professional opinion, clear and substantive differences between the Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) that Dalradian asked the public to comment upon, and the Pre-Application Community Consultation drafted and submitted by the company as part of the overall planning application.
“A cursory scan of the materials presented to the public, and the reporting of the feedback, will, we believe, show that there have been significant and substantial flaws in this process.”
“The Department for Infrastructure also has, in our view, fundamental questions to answer regarding their scrutiny of this consultation process, particularly in the context of this being one of the biggest ever planning projects ever undertaken in Northern Ireland.”
“We find it remarkable, that with project of this scale and complexity, the Department of Infrastructure accepted the content of the PAN first time, without comment or feedback.”
Martin Conway, (Greencastle, Rouskey, Gortin Concerned Community) commented:
“We are the people who will be directly impacted by a processing and waste storage facility right on our doorsteps.
“The consultation event was not fit for purpose with little detail exhibited. This is in stark contrast to the planning application where we have been bombarded with a whole host of maps and drawings that should have been made available earlier for proper consultation, input and comment.
“We have a huge level of support from residents and community representatives who feel the same way. The fact that the High Court has granted leave for a Judicial Review shows how seriously this is being taken.
“Recently, we have noted that Dalradian has taken a decision to spend tens of thousands of pounds on advertising space encouraging people to back their project.
“This is a rather cynical attempt by an organisation who was aware that they did not carry out this consultation process correctly. Any support that they will gain this way will be under a false pretence.
“We look forward to the closer examination of the issues that have been brought to light with this Judicial Review, when, we hope, it will become clear that significant flaws have littered the community consultation from its design to its poor execution.”